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I’m giving it a go again…why I bought a CSA share this year. Food for thought.

Our neighborhood got its first CSA share program (Community-Supported Agriculture) about 10 years ago, and I was an early subscriber. But, but, but…after a couple of seasons, I quit. Here’s why I quit my old CSA share program years ago and why I joined a new one this year!

Oh you people and your acronyms

CSA, or Community-Supported Agriculture, is a fancy way of saying I pre-ordered a summer full of farm-fresh but unpredictable weekly produce.

A local farmer gets some money up front to buy her seeds without going into debt, and I feel good about supporting her while mentally committing my family to cooking with farm-fresh produce all summer.

Not my first (CSA) rodeo

I quit a CSA six years ago, not because it wasn’t good but because it was too good. We got an abundance of produce. Produce fell out of our fridge. Organic produce that was ripped from the ground that day and needed to be washed and washed and washed.

My dad pitched in for produce pickups, as did my mom and sister. It became more and more difficult to find someone to help us to make it to the farm before it closed, fill our bags and drop them off. It was even harder to find a volunteer to wash it and prep it for cooking.

What brought me back

A new farmer opened up a business in my neighborhood. She’s inspiring. I tried her farm stand last year, and she sold all varieties of beans, squash and eggplants I never saw before (and I’m always looking for great farmstand finds!) She impressed me with her interesting choices.

Buying a share of her CSA program lets me support a local startup farm, connect with my neighbors and expose my family to some really unique produce.

Also, I am a lot more realistic with my ambitions now. If we don’t eat it within two days, it becomes a soup.

Here’s what I did with my first week’s share

My favorite were the fresh pea shoots, which are just the tops of the pea plants snipped off. Delicious if you just mix them with salad dressing. I added chopped onions, chive blossoms, and mint, too. The chive blossoms came with my CSA share, but they didn’t add much flavor, just a light purple color.

Field garlic got smashed into a soup made from the maitake mushrooms. I added chopped carrots and celery.

Radishes are one of my favorite vegetables. A nice helping of radishes showed up in my CSA share. I quartered and sautéed them with olive oil, sea salt and black pepper. After the radishes softened, I threw the washes radish greens on top and sautéed those, too!

Another thing I liked about this CSA, I don’t have to subscribe to flowers separately. She included a posey of mixed flowers.

And finally, the mixed bag of baby braising greens – bok choy, beets, chard and kale. My farmer suggested a stir fry or sauté, but since I didn’t eat the greens within two days, I’m going to follow my rule and make a soup.

And you?

Did you ever quit a CSA share program?

How come?

Would you go back?

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I wanted to know, maybe you do too?…2018 farmstand culture blog superlatives

Most popular posts of 2018 from

Since 2018 is officially over, I can now go back and see all the stats…and you can too. It’s a little blog voyeurism. Of course, I only launched this blog in September 2018. Given the short four months this blog was operating, here is a quick post summarizing the 2018 farmstand culture blog superlatives.

Most viewed post of the year

Hummm…maybe I should save the “most viewed!” reveal for last, but I chose to tell you first. Which must mean that there’s some even more interesting superlatives later in this post.

I was surprised by the post with the most views. Are you? What surprised me is that it doesn’t start with “how to” or a number (e.g. 5 best…). And it’s not explicitly about farm stands or natural living or gardening…even though that is mentioned. It’s not even a post suitable for an obvious Pin ad like a DIY sugar scrub would be.

Given that this post was so popular I can only conclude that you all correctly figured me out. I am a nauseatingly well-adjusted, happy and content person, and I should be sharing more about my thought process with you.

With 130 views in 2018, my Most Viewed Post is…

Why do I make life harder on myself?

Greatest number of likes

Do likes even matter? If you use WordPress, you can just scroll through 50 posts per minute, liking them without reading more that just the titles. It could seriously be some bizarre argument, and you might accidentally “like” it because the title mentions kittens. And who doesn’t like kittens? So cute and soft.

For the record, none of my posts are about bizarre stuff like that, and all of my titles are reflective of the content of my posts.

And with 68 likes (actually as of 1/9/19 cause I didn’t look on New Years Day) and counting…

Forgotten herb: balsam apple

Racked up the comments

Well, this shouldn’t be as much of a surprise to you as it was to me. The post with the most comments was also your most liked post of 2018.

Thirty-six of the currently 43 comments on this post happened before January 1st…

Forgotten herb: balsam apple

Least love

Ok, it’s not really a superlative any post wants to be awarded, but it’s still interesting. One of the concepts I had when I was inspired to start blogging was to encourage and challenge you to be more mindful when shopping at farm stands by trying to rank your top 5 items. I have a whole series on this blog showing you my farmstand5’s.

My sad little post with the least attention, receiving the fewest views and comments in 2018 with a grand total of four views was…

Best 5 items at Killam & Bassette Farm Stand, Hartford, CT

Top Instagram picture

If you follow me on Instagram, maybe you noticed about two months ago I started writing mini-blog posts as comments with my Instagram pics. I was stuck on the down slide of the follow-unfollow game, watching my follower count slip every week. So with nothing to lose, I started doing what I do well, accompanying my mediocre photography with interesting commentary.

I’m a big fan of the “tell-me-something-I-don’t-know” approach and that helped stabilize my follower count. It also helped me get 245 impressions on this photo of half of a flock of turkeys in my backyard accompanied by the absolutely fascinating story of how Connecticut repopulated the wild turkeys the colonists had eradicated.

Highest impressions on a Pinterest pin

Oh Pinterest gave me the greatest thrill one morning last October when I had my first pin get 19,000+ views and dozens of clicks through to my post on Swedish Dishcloths. That was my first pin to get thrilling, but it was not my most popular pin of 2018. False start.

The honor of being my most popular pin in 2018, with 20,851 impressions, 22 clicks and 11 saves in three days…because I only posted it on December 29 was…

My husband did not like my collection of essential oils very much until they helped his upset stomach. Try this custom blend of three essential oils that I use on my family when someone has a stomach ache.

3 of the best essential oils for upset stomachs

My personal favorite post of the year

Hey, at least I’m not kidding myself. I know this quiet little post hasn’t received a ton of attention and won’t be my claim to fame. It’s just one I really enjoyed writing. It’s one I return to on occasion to make me smile. I had the idea for this post before I started the blog. It was one of the posts I knew I was destined to write.

All of the other posts mentioned here are your favorites from 2018. This was mine:

Weeding is winning

Thank you for sharing this journey through the 2018 farmstand culture blog superlatives with me! Have a great day today. Oh and, did I miss any posts you think should deserve an honorable mention? Go ahead, let me know in the comments.

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How I made one change to stop wrinkles around my mouth

Tiffany Burns writes at

I’m 37 now. And two years ago, I started to notice wrinkles around my mouth. If you thought I was going to tell you about an all-natural cream or DIY face mask to reverse the signs of aging, I’m not. I used something much more immediately effective to stop wrinkles around my mouth from getting worse.

Actually, to be more specific, it’s mostly one line one the left side of my mouth that’s becoming deeper as I age. What?! I just kind of assumed that it wouldn’t really happen to me.

Wrinkles happened

Really? Tiff, you didn’t think you’d get wrinkles? Hey, I was young, and oddly enough, in terms of keeping me in a cloud of denial, it helped that my husband is five years older than me.

When we met I was only 18. Our circle of friends is older than me, mostly. I always looked much younger than the people around me. I was in high school. They were college grads. They were born in the 70s. I was born in the 80s. From their perspective, I didn’t even look like I was aging.

Looking younger became part of my self-identity. The young one. A kid. Youthful, glowing, young-looking skin. I didn’t think much about wrinkles. Didn’t need to, they weren’t going to happen to me.

Times change

But then, I noticed wrinkles on our friends, mostly around the eyes for the ladies and between the eyes for the guys. At first, I felt a combo of heartache and hubris.

(Hubris is just Latin for being a self-centered ego-freak jerk. I needed an “h” word to flow with heartache.)

Heartache because I don’t want them to look older. If our friends look older, that means we have to confront our parents getting older and all the things we still want to accomplish or we have to start settling for reality and we’re moving into a new phase in life and I was comfortable in the youthful phase and now our youth is gone and time is passing and you can never go back and ahhhh. Life is so short.

Hubris because deep in the back of my mind I thought, “better her than me.” What a jerk. As if I was so immune and not just five years younger. And, actually I also felt a little annoyed at my friends. Why wasn’t he taking better care of his skin? Why is he letting those creases get so deep? Lazy. After all, I had to look at his wrinkles and see my own mortality. And, shouldn’t looking at your friends’ face be all about you, anyway?

But then, pretty much the day after I turned 35, I saw this…

Fair skin mouth line wrinkle

There’s no filter or editing on that photo. My skin is that fair.

Little did I know, but noticing my first real wrinkle on the left side of my mouth started me on a process. If you’re older than me, maybe you are already further down this process than I am. If you are younger than 37, consider this a heads up.

Rationalizing aging

I started looking at older people, really noticing their wrinkles and wondering what they looked like when they were young and how they are coping with looking into the mirror at a face that shows time. How do they feel when they look at the lines on a loved one’s face?

Do they even see what I see? Do we all see our wrinkles differently? I don’t exactly stand in front of the mirror and try out all of my daily expressions so I know what they look like. Of course, a person’s perspective changes with age.

It’s more of a study now for me, a study of people almost like works of art. Art that shifts and changes every day. Interesting art. There’s a real beauty in aging. Isn’t there? You gain so much. You wear your life experiences on your face. You may resemble the people of the past – people you’ve lost – but you are your own. You get your own wrinkles. All yours.

What am I learning

Number 1, before you drive yourself crazy for no good reason…and before I give you any tips about how to stop wrinkles around your mouth, eyes or forehead, accept your wrinkles.

Find a place where you are ok with your wrinkles, your friends’ wrinkles, your parents’ wrinkles. And take the shortest road from here to that place.

Accept that you are growing older, like you did when you were a kid, like back when you viewed aging as moving toward something good not away from your youth. Worry about things you can really impact in your life, not the things that are inevitable.

I lost two cousins my age over the past two years. Most of us know someone who would gladly trade places with us and our wrinkle worry. Accept a wrinkle here and there and smile bigger. Make more laugh lines because you’re alive if you’re reading this.

Someone who has a real, serious health problem doesn’t have the luxury to sit around and ponder his wrinkles. Someone out there isn’t worried about one small wrinkle around her mouth because she’s got to face her mortality in much more painful or real ways.

Ok, that’s on the table now. Big reveal

Stopping my wrinkle

Alright so, you came here to find out the key step I took to stop the wrinkles around my mouth. I told you it wouldn’t be a cream or peel, and you know it’s all-natural because that’s my whole gig.

It was a pillow. A very specific pillow.

Following my 35th birthday, and the aforementioned appearance of the wrinkle that started it all, I spent a month or so doing internet searches, trying stuff, buying stuff, and asking people what they do to stop wrinkles. I studied my laugh line during different parts of the day, before wine/after wine, before/after coffee, and before/after sleep.

During that time, it become more about educating myself than scrutinizing my face or my vanity. It started to become a personal experiment on my little wrinkle guinea pig.

Making some switches

After a month’s worth of research, I was pretty well convinced that satin should be part of the equation. A general lack of sleep, not drinking enough water and sleeping with my face all scrunched up on the edge of my foam-rubber pillow was making the wrinkle worse, but research suggested a smooth, gentle satin pillowcase would at least help with one of those things.

Plus, every morning when I woke up, I noticed the wrinkle was deeper and would smooth out over the day. Yet, at night I could feel myself getting into a cozy position with my face scrunched up on the wrinkle, like folding a piece of paper in half and running your finger down the crease. Every night.

How I stopped wrinkles around my mouth

My super secret find to stop wrinkles around my mouth was actually this x-shaped satin pillow.

I put this x-shaped satin pillow on top of my cozy, squishy foam rubber pillow every night. I even travel with it, and this one, all-natural, inexpensive trick helped stop my wrinkle in its tracks.

The criss-cross shape let’s me rest my chin and forehead on the satin and my cheek in the space between. My skin stays flat or slightly taught all night instead of scrunched up on the edge of my old cotton pillowcase.

As a result, my wrinkle is still 35 even though I will be 38 next month.

x shaped satin pillow to keep wrinkles at bay

And still…

My perspective is better. Left-side-of-my-mouth wrinkle will get deeper over time. And, I will smile at it. We’re cool now. I’ve grown accustomed to the small shift in my appearance since that wrinkle happened.

Not to mention that I realized the one slightly crooked tooth I have on the bottom will influence my smile and probably keep my future wrinkles pretty asymmetrical around my mouth. Ok. No problem. Sounds structural and I like my crooked mouth, it is jaw-droppingly similar to my great, great grandmother’s smile. Nice connection to the past.

Was that the only thing?

No. But, I do think the x-shaped satin pillow was the most impactful change I made to stop my wrinkle. The results were almost immediate. When I woke up the first morning with my new pillow, the line wasn’t any deeper.

That said, at least three other small, all-natural changes I made in recent years probably helped, too, but this post is long enough, don’t you think? I’ll cover those another time.

While I put those posts together, I have a few other skincare posts you might enjoy:

Natural skin and hair care

Skincare advice from 80 years of glowing skin

DIY coconut sugar scrub feels like you’re on vacation

Two common diy skincare ingredients you should think twice about

My clothes are selected by an online stylist at Stitch Fix. I pay a styling fee. They ship me boxes of clothes to try on. I send back what I don’t want through the USPS and pay for just the items I keep. Love it. Get a box every month.

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Why do I make life harder on myself?

Zoomed in on woman's eyes

Do you tend to make choices that differ from the “norm”?  It makes your search purpose harder. I have to come clean with all of you…

in that, I have this habit of choosing the road less traveled. Well, that’s one way to put it.

There’s this guy at work who always edits my commentaries with “just say what you mean, Tiffany”, which is…that I pretty much consistently choose to do things differently, and in the process, I make things harder on myself.

Do I thrive on that? Guess that’s one interpretation. Any psyche majors reading this? That deserves a smiley face emoji.

smiling emoji
Photo by on

Say what you mean

My choices often stand out from the crowd. Like…my major wasn’t business > wasn’t finance > it was Real Estate Finance.

And, back when I was in grad school, I went for an interview for a summer internship. Oh, I should explain about the importance of the SUMMER INTERNSHIP to MBA candidates.

Securing a fabulous summer internship is the goal for an MBA student during her or his first year of studies. When you are getting your MBA, you and your peers spend a lot of time talking about your internship goals, timing and dreams. If you land the right internship, you can plot your career course and earning potential.

Back on topic: once while I was at an interview for a summer internship, my potential employer left a printout of the interview schedule down on a table in front of me then left the room. I saw that I was the only one interviewing for a research internship. Sounds like evidence of the road less traveled, at least it was more than a decade ago when I was in grad school.

Things worked out well for me. Oh, no, I didn’t actually get that job. Yeah, I was surprised, too. But, a good friend did, and I ended up with an internship in NYC. Which was great, because I got “living in a big city” out of my system when I was young and have enjoyed my retreat back to the Connecticut countryside ever since. Like really enjoyed it, like I have homestead envy.

What happened to make me question my approach now?

Considering the big picture…I’m probably questioning my approach right now because I’m facing a life transition as I finish doctoral classes, wrap up my dissertation and think about “what’s next”.

But, then again, it’s really a reflective time for all of us, isn’t it? The year is ending. We are all making plans for a new year, new phases of life, and thinking about purpose.

In a class last weekend, we had a long discussion on exploring purpose. The theme of the day’s lesson was: What is a professor’s purpose? But, you don’t have to be studying to be a professor for this to resonate. Insert any other role you fill into that question.

I guess that discussion stayed with me.

Hearing more about what was on my classmates’ minds about their purpose, how your purpose changes, how we all go through phases when we think more or less about it. The quiet time after the holidays – as the new year is starting –  is a pretty reflective time for most people. Possibly, it’s a time when we think more about purpose.

What’s on your mind as we approach a new year?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not wishing this year to end. I try never to wish time away. It’s too precious. Doesn’t mean I don’t plan for the future though.

What are your personal goals for the new year? My biggest goal for the new year is to recommit.

For the past three years, my attention has been split between too many things. In the new year, I want to be more deeply involved in my kids’ sports and clubs. I want to be that mama who’s coordinating snacks and singing songs with them in the car on the way to practice. In the new year, I want to follow through on more dinner plans with my husband. We thought we would never slow down, even after having kids, but we did. Forget that. Let’s keep that in the past-tense. We should reconnect over a quiet date night a little more often. And, then there’s my career. In order to go back to school part-time, I had to carve some time out from building my career, and in the new year, I want to devote a little more energy to my work.

Bonus thought: Guess what? For the gardeners among us, the dawn of a new year means we get to start planning a new layout, choosing new seed varieties, and feeling Spring fever again soon. Holy cow, I get Spring fever like crazy after the turn of the year. Seedlings, here we go again.

Ok, and the blog?

Of course, this blog. It’s been an amazing start. Thank you for being a critical part of it! You are reading this, and I am appreciating you for it. I hope something resonates in your search for purpose.

I’m committed to bringing you new articles, new perspectives and the play-by-play of the construction of a new window garden in the new year!

At the time I’m writing this post, I have 35 draft posts in the works. My blogging platform does me the kindness of showing me that number, at the top of my screen, every time I open my dashboard.

Oh wow, I guess I have a choice. Those 35 outstanding, half-written, partially-researched, mini-works of blog art could weigh on my shoulders like 35 bricks…OR, I can think of them as 35 bricks in a walkway, a path we can lay and follow in the new year. One of those choices is a lot more appealing than the other. It’s the same thing, just reframed. Like, black cats on your brick walkway could just be adorable kittens who want to play. No bad luck required.

black cat on a brick path

How about your blog?

Do you have a blog? Please leave a link to it or a recent article in the comment section. We’d love to see your labor of love and support you in the new year!

I know it’s not always easy. There are days when things seem to be moving in slow motion, and it’s frustrating.

At least you can always feel welcome to retreat to this community to share your ideas and be supported. I’m happy to help you find ways to reframe the frustration and look forward to the virtual conversations we’ll have as we all begin a new year.