Monthly Archives: September 2013

A Solution to the Food Desert

I planted a vegetable garden, and this is so monumental it warrants a blog post. Historically, my track record with plants is grim, but I am determined for my black thumb tendencies to grow at least a few vegetables this season.

I’m am motivated purely by the fact that we will probably never, ever have a Whole Foods, and I am tired of cutting into produce and having it look like this:

A very rotted red bell pepper that looked completely normal until I cut into it.

A very rotted red bell pepper that looked completely normal until I cut into it.

This actually happens a lot. My biggest struggle when I first moved here was the lack of acceptable produce. I realize now that we were very spoiled in New Jersey and D.C. I also realize that Shreveport could probably be categorized as a “Food Desert” when the Farmers’ Market isn’t in session.

“Food deserts are defined as urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. Instead of supermarkets and grocery stores, these communities may have no food access or are served only by fast food restaurants and convenience stores that offer few healthy, affordable food options.” (http://apps.ams.usda.gov/fooddeserts/foodDeserts.aspx

We have two main grocery stores in town, and their displays are nice, but the pickings can be slim. Apples are generally mushy, green beans are usually moldy, and cucumbers are always flaccid and limp.

This isn’t to say we lack flavor. Louisiana is known for its cajun cooking, and we definitely have plenty of that, which is great for a night out. We also have every fast-food chain imaginable.

But, in my efforts to avoid living off of take-out and rotted peppers, I have planted a vegetable garden for the fall.

I bought seeds from the very helpful experts at Lex Plant Farm. (The basil seeds were free from a Mrs. Meyer's soap purchase.)

I bought seeds from the very helpful experts at Lex Plant Farm. (The basil seeds were free from a Mrs. Meyer’s soap purchase.)

We’re starting off with carrots, green onions, and basil (those were a freebie), and when it cools down, I’m hoping to add in some beets or broccoli, or both. We’ll see how this goes. I have no idea what I’m doing.

The fertilizer contains blood meal and smells like a slaughter house. Gidget was all over this.

The fertilizer contains blood meal and smells like a slaughter house. Gidget was all over this.

The basil pots! This is technically a summer herb, but it's hot enough still (95 degrees) that I think we can pull this off for now.

The basil pots! This is technically a summer herb, but it’s hot enough still (95 degrees) that I think we can pull this off for now.

The 2 x 2 raised bed for our garden.

The 2 x 2 raised bed for our garden.

We’re five days in and I haven’t forgotten to water anything yet. I’m already feeling victorious.

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The best news ever.

IMG_0925I received the best email right before Labor Day Weekend.

All summer I had been working with a group of wonderful individuals to complete an application to bring Girls on the Run to Shreveport. On August 30th, we received official word that we were approved and Caddo Parish will be home to the next GOTR Council!

For those of you unfamiliar with the program, Girls on the Run is a 501c3 organization that empowers girls in 3rd – 8th grade. We inspire girls to be joyful, healthy, and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum, which creatively integrates running. By the end of each season, the girls are physically and emotionally prepared to complete a celebratory 5K race.

This program means so much to me. When I lived in Washington, D.C., I worked as the Race Director for the Girls on the Run – DC Council. Every season I was always inspired and motivated by every young girl at our end of season 5K. Each and every girl always crossed the finish line with such enthusiasm and a sense of accomplishment that it was as if they each had just won the New York Marathon. I am SO beyond excited that Girls on the Run is coming to Shreveport!

We have a lot of work ahead of us – first step is raising $7,500! Yikes! You can visit our fundraising page here and you can also learn more about the program through this great 3-minute video.

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Road Trip: Fort Worth, Texas

Last month we celebrated Rich’s first full weekend off in two months, by taking a road trip to Fort Worth. We had never been, and we were curious to check out the sister city to Dallas.

Fort Worth has such an adorable downtown, and the shops offer a lot of unique gifts without being overly cheesy and tourist-driven. Since there are almost no chain stores, the downtown has a truly authentic feel.

We stayed at The Ashton Hotel, and it’s one of the city’s oldest historic landmarks.

IMG_0907The hotel has been fully restored, but there are still fun little elements that remind you of its historic charm. The room key, for example, is an actual key. (We had a heightened sense of anxiety the entire weekend that we would lose it.)

IMG_0908The fun thing about Fort Worth is that there is definitely an outdoorsy, cowboy element that permeates the area. We spent Saturday on the river, kayaking alongside the city’s borders.  We rented a tandem kayak (from Backwoods Kayak & Canoe Rentals). I don’t have any pictures of this, but Rich did most of the paddling while I made feeble attempts to match his swift strokes.

That night we were complete nerds, and went to see 1964: The Tribute at the Bass Performance Hall in town. We brought the average age down about 30 years, but the band had great energy and it’s hard to beat classics from The Beatles.

Bass Performance Hall

Bass Performance Hall

On the balcony right before the show!

On the balcony right before the show!

Inside Bass Performance Hall

Inside Bass Performance Hall

1964: The Tribute

1964: The Tribute

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Filed under Road Trips, Southern Living, Summer 2013, Travel