Sunday, November 30, 2014

Dried Basil Gift Set


My herb garden overflowed with basil this summer.  And somewhere in the middle of harvesting all those fragrant leaves, a savory little idea struck.

I should dry all this basil, sew up some simple little muslin pouches, attach a pretty and tasty recipe, and sell these for Christmas.

And so I did.

The first product of the Potted Goose is now available to you.

Each pouch contains 1 tablespoon of basil straight from our garden - enough to make two batches of my favorite spaghetti sauce.  And once you make your own spaghetti sauce, you'll never buy a jar from the grocery store again.

Nothing against store bought spaghetti sauce.  But when your house fills with the savory aromas of tomatoes and herbs, you'll completely understand.

The recipes and attached basil pouches will make simple gifts for teachers, neighbors and friends.  Or, they'll stuff nicely in the stocking of your favorite mom, grandma, or anyone who has loved ones to feed.

Ready for delivery or shipping this week.  $5 each.  (Shipping available, and charges will vary.)

Contact me soon - only a limited quantity available.

Have a savory and saucy Christmas, my friends.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

To everything there is a season

We were 200 miles into the 219 mile trip to our Thanksgiving destination.  I had seen a handful of Christmas lights strung on houses, far too many blow up snow-men in front yards, and listened to countless Black Friday ads on the radio. 

By the look and sound of things, we had skipped right over autumn and Thanksgiving and moved into Christmas.

And here I am, early on Thanksgiving morning, the coffee’s brewing and the turkey’s on its way to the oven, wondering why we hurry so much to the next season, while the joy of the current season is right under our nose.

I spent the better part of 10 years helping with a leadership program for college student called Changing Seasons.  I was blessed to work with a team of creative and talented people who developed the concepts behind this conference.

The essence of the leadership event was that each season of the year evokes an element of personal growth.  Rooted in the seasons of agriculture, these concepts easily play out in the lives of every one of us.

Winter is a season of preparation; spring a season of emergence; summer of growth; and fall of harvest.

Maybe it’s the season of life I’m in right now, maybe it’s the holidays; maybe it’s the cold that just won’t quit pestering me, but whatever it is, I feel myself holding fast to the current season, while change is coming at me faster than a Black Friday blow-out sale.

My little family is in an intense and extended season of growth.  The kids are outgrowing shoes and clothes daily.  They’re losing teeth; gaining vocabulary and social awareness; dribbling basketballs; writing in cursive; reading chapter books; Britta’s even insistent on putting on her own shoes and brushing her own teeth.  It’s a summer-time kinda fun - watching our little garden bloom and grow.

But on the horizon, the seasons are changing.  A time of preparation is nearing for this momma Goose.  Our extended season of growth will march on, blooming and surprising me every day.  But the day that all of my children spend all-day, every-day in school is coming at me just as fast as those Black Friday sales.  My mind wanders into a season of preparation often. 

I try my best not to hurry this current season along.  Even in the hurried, hectic moments when I’m rushing to prepare the next meal, helping with multiplication homework, consoling #3 who was just whopped by #2, and wiping up spilled milk, while Brent walks through the room, muttering, “16 more years, 16 more years.”

And so, for the balance of this Thanksgiving Day, my heart will be on savoring the season under my nose.  The kids are up now, the coffee pot is empty, it’s time to put together some breakfast, begin the final holiday meal preparations, get everyone dressed and keep 10 kids outta the kitchen so my mom, sisters and I can get this meal to the table in time.

My mind will surely wander to Christmas lists, decorations, party preparations, shopping the sales, and the next set of holiday travel plans.  Even while the most joyful moments are right under my nose.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, my friends.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A little longer...

Nell was so eager to start Kindergarten that the mere mention of the word school made her entire little body shake.

She bounced out the door that first day, eager and fearless.

So when the call came around lunch time on the fourth day of school that Nell had fallen from the playground equipment and likely broken her arm, I knew the time away from school would hurt her almost as much as the pain itself.





















And while I was sad for her; frustrated at risky playground equipment; and unsure of how to care for her; I see those days now as a small gift of time to hold my baby girl a little longer.










































Nell was the kind of toddler and preschooler that was fun to have around the house.

Another trip to the grocery store?  Smiling Nell preferred to sit in the back surrounded by the groceries.

Bathroom cleaning day?  She loved to scrub the toilets.

Dishes, dishes and more dishes?  It was her job to rinse.  And provide the musical entertainment.

Of course, there was cookie baking, sand-box playing, coloring and reading.  Her zest for life wasn't just for the fun stuff; she made the mundane a little brighter.

When she left for that first day of Kindergarten, I wasn't sad.  I was happy for that bouncy little girl. And thankful I had the chance to spend every day with her in preparation for life as a school-aged girl.

A broken arm just may have been God's way of giving my bouncy little girl and I a few more special days together.





















A few days to cuddle, to paint her nails, to wash her hair in the kitchen sink, to carry her from room to room.  A few more days as a little girl close to her momma; one final reassurance that my bouncy little girl is ready to take flight as a school girl.























Broken arms are sometimes so much more than broken arms.  They're a chance to hold our babies just a little longer.


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Clearing the air

Let's clear the air about a few things.

Phenomenal Fashion was not an attack on high school girls.

If you read my piece and believe that to be true, then I'm sorry.  No harm intended.

Yet...

Did my piece say these girls lacked in accomplishments, athletic talent, musical abilities, character or compassion?  Absolutely not.

Did my piece say that today's clothing choices detract from all the good that young people represent?  Absolutely.

I used my experience as a mom of young girls in watching fashion trends to be analogous to what's happening across the country.  And across the country, teenage fashion blurs the line between stunning and sexy.  My preference is for teenage girls to look stunning.  Sexy (albeit unfortunate) belongs elsewhere.

I believe in challenging young people.  To study harder.  To stand in front of a room and exude confidence.  To practice harder for the next game.

I find it hard to believe I'm the first person to challenge young ladies to employ some modesty.

My approach is that of tough-love.  I expect much from my children.  And, in return, I strive to give them my best.  I'm just not into fostering a false sense of self-confidence.

And so, I'm just not into lauding young people when I know they're capable of more.

Back in "the day," my mom would have told me I had a good game no matter how lousy I played.  My dad wouldn't let me go to bed until we practiced how to seal a more effective box-out.

Young people need a dose of both: unconditional praise and a challenge to do even better the next time.

Every smart, beautiful, talented, compassionate teenage girl has the ability to stand-up to culturally accepted fashion standards and choose better.

And I'll remain steadfast in my challenge to be phenomenally fashionable.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Phenomenal Fashion

I've been taking my girls to our community's promenade since they were little. The girls put on dresses and necklaces and clip-on earrings and faux feather boas, and we go see the fancy dresses. 

At the end of the night, we pick our favorites.  Pink dresses and full skirts always score well with the girls.  The blue and grey shades always catch my eye.

Lately, it seems, the hem lines have been getting shorter.  The backs more open.  The neck lines plunging deeper.  The high heels taller and taller.

And each year, we've noticed.  Since about Kindergarten, Noah has expertly used the word "inappropriate."  Nell fumbles over the syllables, but it will soon be part of her vocabulary, too.

We return each year, the girls hoping for something poufy and sparkly, and I, quietly watching in the back for that young lady who’s willing to take a stand against teenage fashion trends and don something elegant, classy, and sophisticated.  The girl who’s ahead of her time; who’s fearless in the face of pop culture.  The girl I want my little girls to grow up to become.

So when this year’s Homecoming candidates rode past us in the back of pick-up trucks during the parade, I was once again watching for that girl.

And I was disappointed.

When I see Homecoming candidates, I see girls on the verge of becoming young women.  I see girls who represent years of hard work and achievements.  Girls standing up for our school; our community; our churches. 

But when their arms reach longer than their hem lines; when their back is fully exposed on a chilly October evening; when their skirt inches higher as they walk, it’s so very hard to see those accomplishments; so hard to see a role model for my little girls when they’re wrapped in barely enough fabric.

Fashion isn’t the absolute definition of a person.  But that old saying…

…what you do speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you say…

…seems to apply here.

What you choose to wear can convey messages that are positive and driven and accomplished.  The right dress has the power to say, “I’m proud of who I am.  I’m proud of my school and my community.   I’ve worked hard to be standing here today.  And I will represent you well going forward.” 

Finding that dress is not so easy.  And especially not easy on a week’s notice in the midst of a busy senior girl’s schedule.  And even worse when you’re a tall girl with an athletic build searching for a dress in the juniors department.  (I am that tall girl with an athletic build.)

But it’s possible.

Thanks to my much more fashionable mom and sisters (and to watching dozens of What Not to Wear episodes while taking care of my baby girls), I know how to find clothes that fit, that are fashionable, and that express who I am.  I have learned how to choose clothes that flatter the good parts, and to hide the not so good parts.  And thanks to the internet, I don’t have to go far to find them.

Loft, Anthropologie, J Crew, Old Navy, Gap, Boden---are some of my favorite places to shop.  I look for sales.  Or, I find inspiration and recreate with pieces I can find at Target or Wal-Mart that suit my budget.

These clothing lines offer classic pieces that have staying power in my wardrobe, and offer plenty of modern fashion for even the most stylish among us.

I have warned Brent since the girls were little: we will drive farther and spend more money to find clothes that the girls and I can agree on in terms of fashion and sensibility.

He gets it.

But our influence will wane as the girls grow up.  They’ll be looking to pop culture, to the girls at promenade, to the Homecoming candidates for their influence.

So I’m asking you now: be a fashion leader, not a fashion follower.  Let your fashion sense show us the smart, independent, driven, compassionate girl you are.  Choose elegance.  Sophistication.  Stand up to the lesser standards and be something phenomenal.

Because my little girls are watching…and they wanna be just like you. 

(Here's a few homecoming alternatives I adore...)






Thursday, July 24, 2014

A good thing

I was a first generation 4-H’er.

My parents grew up in the north-end of working-town St. Joseph, Missouri.  My dad was a jock.  He played competitive sports year-round, and spent his free time rounding up the neighborhood boys for a few innings on the sandlot.  Weekends were spent on his grandparent’s farm in Kansas.  4-H simply wasn’t on his radar. 

My mom, eager to escape a childhood riddled with painful memories, found security and stability in my dad.  She wanted her own family, her own home.  She wanted her turn at building a lifetime of happy memories.  4-H wasn’t on her radar, either.

They married at 19.  My dad finished up college, wrapped up a college sports career, and five short years later, bought a farm and moved his wife and three – soon to be four – babes to an 80 acre paradise in northeast Kansas.

4-H was suddenly on their radar.  A wholesome, fun, family-oriented experience perfect for a new-to-the-farm family.

I joined the Circle B 4-H Club.  We bought a pen full of market hogs and picked up a Hereford bucket calf at the Atchison Sale Barn.  I sewed a calico-print skirt with help from my Grandma, and made cookies and a craft project with my momma. 

The summer of 1988 marked our first Doniphan County Fair. 

This summer, while standing in the barn of the Ellsworth County Fair – looking over Noah and Tucker’s bucket calves – my Dad reminded me of why 4-H was just the right fit for our family.

On a sweltering evening at the market hog show, late July 1988, the competition was heating up in the swine showmanship class.  At eight-years-old, I was oblivious to it all, trying to keep track of a fast-moving hog and wiping the sweat from my brow with a bristle brush intended for my pig.  (Actually, I think my brother did that, but it adds a nice touch, doesn’t it?)  The oldest daughter of a more-seasoned 4-H family and member of our club, was a show-woman to be reckoned with.  She was in the running for Grand Champion, but when the judge passed her up and gave the nod to another showman, her mom threw a camera across the bleachers in disgust at the judge’s decision.

While the crowd looked on in disbelief, my dad stood under the eaves of the hog barn, smiled and thought to himself, “This 4-H thing is gonna be good.”

We went on to enjoy about 15 more summers of wholesome, fun, family-oriented county fairs.  And 15 summers of heated competition in the show ring.  There are boxes of trophies and ribbons filling closets at my parent’s house.  And enough wonderful memories and treasured friendships for us to cherish forever. 

The Circle B 4-H club boasted 40-plus members at its peak in the mid 90’s.  We had solid exhibitors and competitors in nearly every project.  We vied for the herdsmanship award every summer under the watchful eye of our club leaders.  By the time my youngest sister, Molly, was in high school, there just weren’t enough kids left to keep the club going.  Last fall – ten years later – my brother, and a number of the kids who were a part of the better days of Circle B, reinstated the club.

Our kids are now 4th generation Kansas 4-H’ers; thanks to a long 4-H legacy in the Goss and Dechant families participating in the Finney County 4-H Fair.  As members of the Elkhorn 4-H Club – they're part of a group of hard-working, no frills kids who can have as much fun at a big city water park as they can in a barn.  And a group of kids who pay attention to the youngest among them – this momma of young un’s loves that.

This 4-H thing is good for our family for reasons no different than the reasons my dad discovered many summers ago in that hog barn.  It brings our family together through meaningful work.  It allows our children to channel their interests and passions.  It provides opportunities to lead; and to work as a team.  And it puts our children into a nurturing, yet competitive, environment.  Because after all, the world doesn’t give everyone a ribbon for just showing up.

I sometimes wonder if we’ve pushed our family into a 4-H and farm lifestyle because that’s where Brent and I are most comfortable.  But when I see Noah blossoming in the show ring, Tucker tackling chores with a very grown-up sense of responsibility, Nell whispering to the chickens, and Britta hungry to just keep up with her siblings, my mind rests.  The Goss and 4-H just go together.

Brent's dad, Larry, in 1964.  Obviously.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Bridging the Gap

Every year in early summer, upwards of 10,000 women descend upon the Overland Park Convention Center to attend the Just for Her Expo.  They come with their moms, sisters, daughters, aunts, neighbors, and best gal pals for a few hours of girl time.

They come to shop for purses, boutique clothing, house cleaning gadgets and luxurious bathrooms renovations.  They come to sample chocolates and wine.  They come to listen to live music.  They come for mini spa treatments.

It’s everything a girl could ask for.  It’s everything this farm girl loves to escape to the big city for.

This year marked my first trip to Just for Her.  And instead of shopping and massages, I was parked behind a booth, alongside another Central Kansas farm gal, volunteering for a farm women’s advocacy group called Common Ground.  And we were charged with the task of doing just that – striking common ground between farm girls and our suburban counterparts.

The goal was to engage in conversations about food.  The draw was bold questions printed across the booth’s backdrop: Have questions about where your food comes from?  Concerned about hormones in your food?  What’s all the worry about GMO’s?  The giveaways included a flexible cutting board and a notepad for grocery lists.  The results were, err, well, interesting.

I thought GMO’s were a bug.

I buy raw goat’s milk for my family from a farmer near Kansas City.

I’m worried about losing the family farm.

I just started juicing.

There aren’t hormones in poultry?  Really?

I remember visiting my grandparent’s farm, but I don’t think my teenage son has ever seen a farm.

I don’t like that they give all the animals antibiotics.

So, you’re saying organic production uses products to control weeds and pests, too?

I don’t have a vegetable garden.

Do you work for Monsanto? (Followed by an over-exaggerated wink.)

I began each conversation the same way: “I’m volunteering on behalf of Kansas farm women, and we’re here to provide information about your food from its source.”  Where the conversations went from there was not always what I expected.

Beyond cute purses and wine tasting, there simply wasn’t much common ground.  The gap between Central Kansas farm women and Johnson County women is much greater than the 208 miles between us. 

Sure, there were some positive conversations.  I made contact with an eager young gal who writes a newsletter for KC Metro moms.  She said she’d love to have articles about food contributed from Common Ground.  Another go-getter ran a women’s executive club, and we chatted about exchanging business leadership training for education about food production.

But the vast majority of conversations were riddled with misinformation and rampant with fear.  Some wanted to listen and were eager to learn more; others ruffled their feathers and moved on.

In each short encounter, I did my best to leave the conversation with this, “No matter where you fall on the food purchasing spectrum – from local and organic to modern and conventional – it’s important you get the information about your food from the farmer.”  Then, I handed them a flexible cutting board and flashed my most sincere, Kansas farm girl smile.

Bridging the information gap between producers and consumers is a marathon – not a sprint.  It doesn’t happen quickly.  And the road to the finish will take us to places farmers have never been before – the halls of an Overland Park Convention Center, the pages of an urban mom publication, the offices of suburban executive women. 


Common Ground and it’s supporters – the Kansas Soybean Commission and the Kansas Corn Commission – get it.  They understand that one conversation at a time, we can reconnect consumers with the faces behind their food.   And if that means meeting suburban consumers on their turf – in the shopping and dining mecca of our state – twist my arm, I’ll be there.