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Life is too short to eat bad food! Sharing great recipes, farm life, stories and photography from our Northern California dairy farm.

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December 21, 2016

Easy Last Minute Cookie Recipes

It's the week of Christmas, every night of the week is booked, the kids are ready to be done with school for holiday break and I have cookies to bake for the annual cookie exchange that I am invited to and not a whole lot of time to do so.

I need something easy and quick to bake that will look fabulous and  fancy.  Both of these recipes are super easy and from scratch and one I cheated a bit.

If you're in a bind as to what to bring as a last minute treat, keep these in mind...

Raspberry Ribbon Pistachio Bars

1/2 pound unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 cups flour
1/2 cup salted pistachios, chopped
3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Combine softened butter, sugar and egg.  Beat until blended.  Stir in flour.  Spread half the dough into a 9 x 9 pan.  Bake for 10 minutes and remove from oven.

Spread jam to within 1/2 inch of edge.  Add pistachios to remaining dough and blend.  Drop by spoonfuls over jam to cover.

Bake 35 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes and cut into squares.

(Thank you, Jonni D. from Novato for the recipe)

Peppermint Oreos

1 package of Oreo Cookies
1 package of Peppermint Kisses
Edible Decorations

Unwrap and melt peppermint kisses and place in a microwave safe container.  Melt the kisses at 30 second intervals, stirring at each 30 seconds until melted.

Dip each individual Oreo Cookie in melted chocolate and place on waxed lined baking sheet.  Add edible decoration to the top.  Allow to cool.

Kids LOVE these!

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December 19, 2016

Surviving the Holidays ~ Caregivers

With Christmas fast approaching, we are all busy with last minute details and errands that need to be done.  Having elderly family members in your family might mean it's time to modify the holiday schedule that you have become accustomed to.  If you are a family caregiver for an ill or cognitively impaired individual, you may not be looking forward to the holidays; more work, more company (including those who may not realize how their presence and demands impacts on your schedule and work load), and additional stress on you and the person you care for.  First and foremost, the comfort of our impaired loved one should be taken in to consideration, even if that means reluctantly modifying past holiday traditions that may add more confusion or stress to your loved one.

Holiday gatherings easily show off an individual’s deficits. Imagine how confusing it is to be impaired and surrounded by people who know you, but you have no recall. Think about the constant noise (music, bells, etc.), bright lights and decorations that distort your sense of who and where you are. Imagine going to a family party with foods that no longer may be recognizable to you or that you are unsure how to eat.

So some good advice is to learn to set realistic expectations—for you and your family member.

For your loved one:

  • Attempt to maintain a regular schedule whenever possible.
  • Simplify: shorten visits and events. You do not have to accept all invitations. Determine which ones might be the most important or provide the most joy to your loved one.
  • Watch your family member’s reactions. Pay attention to their stress levels and make adjustments as necessary.
  • Attempt to limit visitors to smaller, sporadic groups. This might be a perfect time to let other family members “visit” while you (caregiver) take a nap, Christmas shop or quietly read a book. If you must attend a large gathering, locate a quiet spot to leave the crowd for a “time out.”
  • Make introductions with explanations. Act like you are introducing the visitor to your Mom or Dad.
  • Maintain the familiar. Old traditions, familiar music, reading/signing holiday cards or other simple customs can be enjoyable and feel comfortable to the impaired individual.
  • Pay attention: unthinking guests may offer your 90 pound mom on heavy medication the “spiked” eggnog, or mom might forget she is lactose intolerant and make herself a cheese plate.
  • Keep physical conditions in mind. A person in pain or with special medical needs should be asked how much and when they want to participate. Don’t insist that they do. Give them an “out” if it becomes too exhausting. Needless to say, ask family who are sick to visit at another time.
  • Where possible, solicit your loved one’s involvement in simple preparations—cooking, cleaning, sorting, etc. Most importantly, thank them for their help. Everyone likes to be appreciated.
  • Get involved and do something (anything): a short walk to look at Christmas decorations, an animated holiday musical that encourages simulated dancing or swaying, decorating a tree - these are all possible activities.
  • Reminisce about past gatherings, traditions or people. It’s time to bring out those old photo albums!
  • Be prepared! Make sure you have a supply of medication, incontinence products, quick snacks, some baby wipes and an extra sweater when going out.

As a caregiver:

  • Set reasonable expectations for yourself. You cannot do everything, and, most importantly, you don’t have to. Do you really need to make 5 kinds of cookies when you can go to Costco?
  • Maintaining the same schedule and simplifying the season will go a long way in easing your stress.
  • Ask for assistance! Ask family members to come sit with mom and dad while you do errands. Better yet, ask them to bake the holiday cookies or come help you clean the day before Thanksgiving. Learning to ask for help will make for better caregiving. After dinner coffee when mom is taking her nap is a great time to bring up whatever ongoing help you need.
  • Self preservation: remember to take care of yourself first. Airlines advise you to put on your oxygen mask before your child’s so you can clearly and safely care for another. Self care helps you maintain your health, your patience and your sanity.
  • Forget about perfection! A lopsided tree, gift cards instead of an actual boxed presents or a bakery pie will not detract from what’s important about the season. Spending time with family, keeping mom or dad comfortable with the gathering, and sharing the love will create a much longer lasting memory.

Thank you to Igor Lebovic, the CEO of Kindly Care, who emailed these helpful tips to me to share with you all.

Follow Igor Lebovic on Twitter:
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November 9, 2016

Napa Valley Santa Train!

I have yet to experience the Napa Valley Wine Train, but it is on my bucket list....especially with it only being 40 minutes away.  I was just notified that the Napa Valley Wine Train will be treating over 900 underserved children to the Santa Train Experience for this holiday COOL is that!?!  If you're vacationing in the Napa Valley, this might be something you want to look into!

The Napa Valley Wine Train to Treat Over 900 Underserved Children to Santa Train Experience November 19 through December 29

Holiday Train Featuring Santa and Friends Partners with Sleep Train’s Ticket to Dream Foundation and Multiple Bay Area Charities

NAPA, Calif. (November 9, 2016– The Napa Valley Wine Train, an engaging and memorable experience that echoes the glory days of train travel, is excited to announce a partnership with Sleep Train’s Ticket to Dream Foundation providing the opportunity for foster children from around the area to experience the all new Santa Train free of charge on Saturday, November 19.  Additionally, the community is encouraged to donate an unwrapped toy at any Bay Area Sleep Train location. In turn, everyone who donates a toy at designated store locations, will receive a discount voucher for tickets to ride the all new Santa Train.  On the 19th, The Napa Valley Wine Train is also extending the Santa Train experience complimentary to the children of All Stars Helping Kids, Sonoma Mentor Alliance, Northern Lights School, Ricky Watter Kids, Cope Family Center, Boys & Girls Club of Napa, Aim High, United Playaz and Family Service of Napa Valley.  The festive Santa Train will run twice a day, seven days a week from November 19 to December 29.

“This year’s Santa Train is a whole new experience and we’re thrilled to be partnering with Sleep Train’s Ticket to Dream Foundations as well as the Bay Area’s most deserving children’s charitable organizations,” said Pat Colee, Chairman and Founder of Noble House Hotels & Resorts.  “It makes us very happy to share this magical adventure with kids that might not otherwise have had the opportunity to experience it.”

The Santa Train experience allows guests to embark on an all-new musical and interactive journey to Santa’s Workshop accompanied by some of Santa’s best friends. Magical wristbands will light up the train while guests enjoy hot chocolate, cookies, and holiday treats while they await Santa’s arrival. 

The Santa Train will run twice a day, seven days a week from November 19 - December 29 and will be closed on November 24December 24, and December 25.  The first train departs to Santa’s Workshop at 5:00 p.m. and returns to the train station at 7 p.m.  The second ride departs at 8 p.m. and returns to the train station at 10 p.m.

Train fare for the Santa Train starts at $55 per person and guests will have the chance to take a photo with Santa Claus before departing the station.  Free Parking is available in the Napa Valley Wine Train’s parking lot and space is limited.  For reservations, please call (800) 427-4124.  For more information about the Napa Valley Wine Train, please visit

About the Napa Valley Wine Train
One of the few active historic passenger railroads in the United States, the Napa Valley Wine Train offers an engaging and memorable experience that echoes the glory days of train travel, with fine dining service, multi-course meals cooked to order, Napa Valley scenery and ultimate relaxation aboard exquisitely restored antique rail cars.  The Napa Valley Wine Train features vintage Pullman rail cars faithfully restored with Honduran mahogany paneling, brass accents, etched glass partitions and luxurious armchairs that evoke the spirit of luxury rail travel at the beginning of the 20th century.  Conveniently located in downtown Napa and easily accessible, the Napa Valley Wine Train offers a car-free transportation option that bring guests from San Francisco to Napa Valley via the San Francisco Bay Ferry.

About Sleep Train
Sleep Train, an award-winning company, is ranked the #1 bedding specialist in the West. Sleep Train offers customers superior service by professional and knowledgeable sleep consultants and the best selection of famous brands, such as Beautyrest®, Sealy®, Posturepedic®, Tempur-Pedic®, Stearns & Foster®, and Serta iComfort®, as well as premium adjustable beds, futons, and wood and metal accent beds at the guaranteed lowest prices. Sleep Train’s award-winning Foster Kids Program actively contributes to its community through ongoing donation drives that benefit the West Coast’s more than 80,000 foster children. Sleep Train boasts nearly 300 locations in the West. Sleep Train is Your Ticket to a Better Night’s Sleep®. For more information, please visit www.sleeptrain.comor call 1-800-378-BEDS.

About Ticket to Dream Foundation
The Ticket to Dream Foundation is dedicated to providing hope and opportunity to foster children across the nation, so they can just be kids. Ticket to Dream raises funds, spreads awareness, hold in-kind donations drive and find new experiences for foster children to create happy memories. Working with corporate partners and community supporters they believe foster children can have a childhood filled with opportunity. For more information visit

About Noble House Hotels & Resorts
A privately held company for more than 30 years, Noble House Hotels & Resorts, Ltd. was founded in 1979 by owner Patrick R. Colee as a commercial property development group, transitioning in 1994 to a hotel ownership management company. Headquartered in Seattle, Wash., the corporation owns and manages an upscale portfolio of 18 distinct and visually captivating properties spanning the U.S.  From luxury resorts in Seattle, Wash. to Jackson Hole, Wyo. and the Florida Keys, each property maximizes and showcases its physical setting. Noble House is continuously growing, operating 45 hotel restaurants, bars and lounges, showcasing local culture and inspiration from local surroundings.  With a philosophy that emphasizes “location, distinction and soul,” Noble House Hotels & Resorts exemplifies individuality, dedicating itself to creating and managing exceptional properties that contribute to their communities, staying true to local history, culture and ambiance. 
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September 13, 2016

Favorite Pumpkin Recipes

Fall is in the air here in Northern California.  Fall is my favorite season because of the crisp mornings, the leaves thinking about changing colors, football and last but certainly not least.....everything PUMPKIN.

I'm a pumpkin fan.  From pumpkin spice lattes to pumpkin muffins, I can't get enough.  I even stocked up on pumpkin scented candles.

To celebrate Fall, here are some of my favorite, from scratch, pumpkin recipes.....

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins (click to see recipe)

Healthy Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip can eat these for breakfast!

Dreamy Pumpkin Ice Cream from Scratch.....oh so good.

I hope you're enjoying your ease in to fall as much as I am.  ~Nancy

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August 17, 2016

If You Mess With The Bull.....

Out of  the couple of hundred dairy cows that we have on the ranch, we have just a couple of Holstein bulls that stay with the herd.  While different breeds of bulls vary in aggressiveness, Holstein bulls are considered to be one of the most aggressive.  The bulls we have are young, two or three years old and pretty tame, given their age..... Although not tame enough for me to find myself on the same side of the fence as them. Tame or not, I'm terrified of these large, muscular creatures.

Just the other day, while our kids were being filmed for a California Milk Advisory Board video, I amused myself by filming one of our bulls, Rocky, while he was vocalizing his protest to my close proximity......two fences in between us.

A good reminder to all to always stay on the other side of the fence from a Holstein bull.

CMAB Filming

Rocky, the Bull
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August 1, 2016

Watermelon Summer Slush

Watermelon is both of my kid's favorite summer fruit.  I'm a huge fan as well.  There is almost nothing better than biting in to a cold, juicy slice of the sweet fruit.  Watermelon is 90% water and is a great source of hydration as well.  So very thirst quenching!

August 3rd is National Watermelon Day and to help us all celebrate, I wanted to share this lucious looking recipe for Pomegranate Watermelon Summer Slush sent to me by Sparkling Ice.

above photo courtesy Sparkling Ice

But first, here are some fun watermelon facts that I learned about at a farm tour at a Monsanto farm I attended.
  • Over 1,200 varieties of watermelon are grown worldwide
  • Every part of a watermelon is edible—even the seeds and rinds
  • Watermelon is a fruit and a vegetable—related to cucumbers, pumpkin and squash
  • Some watermelons are yellow, and have a sweeter, more honey-like flavor than the pink-fleshed kind 

Pomegranate Watermelon Summer Slush

1/2 Personal-size seedless watermelon, chilled, cut & cubed (about 5 cups)
1/3 Cup Sparkling Ice Pomegranate Blueberry or Sparkling Ice Strawberry Watermelon
2 Tablespoons lime juice
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 to 2 Cups ice
Small watermelon wedge, spear of blueberries a few pomegranate seeds (optional for garnishes)

In a blender, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Garnish as desired and serve in a hollowed-out watermelon shell for a fun "fish bowl" inspired drink.

Cherry Ginger Watermelon Mocktail
Black Cherry Sparkling Ice
Fresh Ginger

Cut the watermelon and scoop out the flesh. Peel and cut a small portion of the ginger. Mix both ingredients in a blender, strain for any seeds. Add into highball glass and top with Black Cherry Sparkling Ice. For a fun twist, add a watermelon wedge as a garnish.
above photo courtesy Sparkling Ice

And now for the "adult" recipe......

Sparkling Watermelon Vodka Lemonade
3 Cups seedless watermelon pieces
3 Lemons, juiced
1/2 Cup Vodka
1/4 Cup Fresh Mint
2 Cups Lemon Lime Sparkling Ice

In a blender, puree the watermelon and lemon juice, strain through a sieve into a drink pitcher. Add mint, vodka and Lemon Lime Sparkling Ice, then stir. Serve over ice and garnish with fresh mint.
above photo courtesy Sparkling Ice

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July 6, 2016

Clover Stornetta Greek Yogurt Pancakes

We, as a family, had the pleasure of participating in our hometown's 4th of July parade, honoring Novato's 2016 theme, "Across the Generations".  We put together a float with the help of Clo the Cow from Clover Stornetta, who walked with us and our local feed supply company, Hunt and Behren's, using their beautifully restored vintage hay truck.

Such a fun day riding and walking down Grant Avenue with Clo the Cow and handing out 400 half pints of chocolate milk to the parade spectators!

Even our little Chloe got into it as well...

Clo the Cow shared with me, one of her favorite breakfast recipes for Greek Yogurt Pancakes and wanted to be sure I shared the recipe with all of you!  Enjoy!

Clover is celebrating its 100th anniversary with the release of an organic Greek yogurt line! Not only is Greek yogurt delicious, but it's also nutritious, providing you with added protein, improved digestive function, and the calcium you need for healthier bones. If you love Greek yogurt, we've got a great recipes for you to try!

Breakfast: Greek Yogurt Pancakes
Time required: 15 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Yields: 5 pancakes
Here's what you'll need:
  • 5 ounces Greek yogurt
  • one egg
  • half a cup of flour
  • a teaspoon of baking soda

Combine the egg with the yogurt, then mix in flour and baking soda to create a thick batter. Scoop onto a greased and heated griddle, cooking for about two minutes on each side. Serve with your choice of toppings!


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June 29, 2016

Jinx's Story....Only at the Fair.

We just came off of a week at the Sonoma-Marin Fair, held in Petaluma, Ca.  This is one of our family's favorite small town fairs where many kids have the chance to show their animals that they have been raising and caring for all year long.  Many many memories are made at our county fairs every year, nationwide. 

This little Jersey heifer, Ginny, was given to Paige by a family friend, Regina. We are proud to say Ginny is the very first Jersey that has ever lived on the Grossi Dairy over the past 70 years it's been in existance!  Paige has always had an affinity to Jerseys because of their sweet faces and their light coloring....their looks  remind her of baby deer.  Ginny did Paige well at the Sonoma-Marin Fair....she helped Paige achieve a 1st place ribbon in the Showmanship Class.  

Bryce also has a super sweet Holstein cow named Jinx.  She's three years old, is pregnant with her second calf and he entered her as a 'dry cow' at the fair.  Dry cow simply means she is not milking at the time because she is preparing to give birth and is enjoying a couple of months off from milking.

In my eyes, Jinx is just a big lap cow.  Similar to a dog but much, MUCH larger.  Instead of her sitting on our laps, we sit in hers.  Sweetest bovine creature EVER.

She loves scratches behind her ears and under her chin and loves to give late night, very wet kisses in the barn.

Sweet Jinx surprised us all on the last morning of the fair.  Our nephew, Cameron, had set his early morning alarm for 4 a.m. to milk his cow, Lucy, when he discovered a little bitty head protruding out of Jinx at that same time.  After waking us all up with this discovery, Dominic helped Jinx finish her labor by pulling the calf  the rest of the way out and Jamie was born at 4:15 a.m and approximately 10 days early.

A sweet little heifer, that looks alot like her mama and with the same sweet disposition was here to share the last day of the fair with us and ALL who came by to visit.  People were amazed that she was just hours old....maybe the youngest calf people had ever laid they're eyes on, in real life.

Just a couple of hours after Jamie was born and after being licked clean by her mama, Jamie stood on all four hooves.

It's amazing to me the natural instincts that happen immediately with a newly born calf.  She found her mama and nursed.

Jinx is the ever loving, caring mama.   With the comfort of her 'human family' never leaving her and her baby's side, Jinx seemed happy to share her newborn baby with the public.

One proud mama and a memory that our family and many other families will never forget at the Sonoma-Marin Fair this year.

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May 24, 2016

Top Tips For Safe Internet Usage For Kids

Our kids are ages 11 and 9.  They are right in the midst of the ever loving world of technology and Dominic and I have talked about the best ways of limiting their usuage of it over the summer time break.

Chores come first:

In the Morning:
  • Make your bed
  • Eat breakfast
  • Get dressed
  • Brush your teeth
  • Brush your hair
  • Feed and water your rabbits and dog....and cows, if applicable at the time
  • 20 minutes of reading
  • Clean up 1 room / tv or bedroom
  • Play outside for 30 minutes
  • Make, draw or build something creative
  • Help someone in the family (ask if there is a job you can do....water the garden)

Then you can play some video games or have TV time.

However, all parents know there are some parts of the Internet they don’t want kids exploring. Here are 5 great tips from the experts at Clean Router for keeping kids safe online all year long.

#1 - Talk with your kids!  The dangers of the Internet are very real, but arming your kids with knowledge can be one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal.  These should be very age appropriate discussions.  For instance, for a 5-year old you can give instructions as simple as, “If you see someone without their clothes on, turn the computer or device off immediately and come get mom or dad.”  Or, “If you see someone being mean to someone else, make sure you show a grown up.”  As your kids get older, the discussion can change accordingly.  But starting the discussions early is important.  You can choose - you can teach your kids - or else the Internet can teach them!

#2 - Install filtering at the network level to filter all of the devices in the house.  Choose a powerful option like the Clean Router. The Clean Router allows parents to manage all of the devices in the house with one central control.  It filters and manages everything connected to your home WiFi so you don’t have to worry about any content you deem inappropriate leaking through on a device you hadn’t or couldn’t download filtering software to.

#3 - Make sure that Internet usage is done in the open. Make sure that family computers are located in high traffic areas. Make sure that laptops and tablets are not used in bedrooms or private parts of the house. This keeps kid’s online activities open for discussion and much easier to keep an eye on.

#4 - If chores aren’t completed change your WiFi key and don’t give it to the kids until those chores are done!  With most routers this is a very simple task that can be done in a few minutes and can be a very effective way to motivate kid to get chores or homework or whatever finished!

#5 - Make sure you have all of your kid’s social media passwords and check their social media accounts regularly.  If kids know you are looking at what they are doing on the different social media platforms they will be much less likely to be talking to people they shouldn’t or taking part of cyberbullying or other behaviors that they know you wouldn’t approve of.  This is a digital world now - so be a part of their digital lives!

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May 8, 2016

Marin County Farmers' Market at The Fork

Last weekend Dominic and I had the pleasure of attending a campaign kickoff fundraising event for the Market Hall and Canopy for the Marin County Farmers' Market.

Photo courtesy of AIM

The goal is to raise enough funds to build a permanent  and sustainable structure and canopy to house the Marin County Farmers' Market's local agriculture, small businesses, farmers and ranchers . This way farm fresh food will be available year round and we can shop and stay dry simultaneously.

The local farm and agriculture community is small and very important to me and my family. Although our family does not sell product at the farmer's market, we have many friends and family that do utilize the opportunity to grow, raise and then sell their products to our local community through the farmer's market.

The Farmers' Market provides local farmers and ranchers, along with special food purveyors and artisans direct access to more than 15,000 people every week.  It is critical for survival to these local farmers and ranchers to have a venue like this available to them to directly associate and connect with the community.

The fundraising event was held at one of my favorite farm to table venues around....The Fork at Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company.  If you haven't tried their award winning Point Reyes Original Blue or others, you should if you get the chance.  Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese is made from the Giacomini family's own herd of Holstein cows, raised right there on the farm.

If you want to read and see more about the Marin County Farmers' Market or The Fork, click on the links above!
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April 27, 2016

Passport Wine Weekend of Dry Creek Valley

There comes a weekend every April that I longingly look  forward to.  A weekend like no other in Sonoma County.  I hope for nice weather, happy to have a driver and spend time with good friends as we clink our glasses through Passport Weekend in Dry Creek Valley.

Beginning our journey at 10 a.m., we head out to our first destination and to meet the rest of our group.

Selby Winery.  Where we check in, pick up our passports and begin a full day of tasting delicious wines, paired with fantastic bites.

Selby always does it right with their Mardi Gras themed party.  Alligator Stew, baby cake, Mardi Gras girls, beads, music, magicians and fortune tellers....just about everything Mardi Gras.  We were well on our way to a fun and tasty day.

Another favorite on the list of approximately 50 wineries is Mauritson Family Winery.  As the saying goes, "Know Your Farmer"....well we are friends with the grape growers for this winery and loved their Rockpile Zinfandel.

Chef Charlie Palmer cooked up some mighty fine cuisine...I could have eaten the shaved beef atop a parmesan crisp all day.  

Here's most of our group with wine maker, Clay Mauritson and chef, Charlie Palmer.

Onward we go.

More wine.  More food.  This is the largest vat of paiaya I have ever seen.

It's a good thing they stamp your passport at every winery because by the end of the day, they all sort of get blended together in my memory bank.

Until next year....

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