The Whole Story: Are full-fat dairy products actually good for you?

By Disa Cornish

hansenbutterOne of my favorite snacks growing up was one my dad would make. And his mom, my grandma, served it with dinner in the trailer at the lake in Okoboji. A bread and butter sandwich. With “tooth butter” – butter thick enough to leave tooth marks when you took a bite. Sometimes we’d shake things up and sprinkle a little sugar on it for fun. Or a couple of pickle slices. But bread and butter was usually enough.

Then I grew up and learned about “eating healthy” and “cholesterol” and “low-fat” and other things that were part of a balanced and nutritious diet. Bread and butter sandwiches were not on the list. Nor was the 2% milk we always drank for dinner. Skim all the way.

But in the last few years I’ve heard some rumblings about fat being – gasp! – good for you. Specifically, animal fats like dairy. We’ve rounded up some research findings and medical evidence for why full-fat dairy products like butter and whole milk are actually better for you than their low-fat alternatives like margarine and skim milk.

  • Some vitamins are fat soluble – they are absorbed with fat. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are all fat soluble. If you don’t eat enough fat, your body won’t be able to absorb those vitamins properly. Deficiencies in these vitamins can cause problems in the brain and the body.
  • Hansen-Whole_MilkEating higher fat dairy products may actually help you keep the pounds off. A 2013 study of men in rural Sweden found that men who didn’t eat butter and drank low-fat milk at the beginning of the study were more likely to become obese. Men who ate more whipped cream, butter, and whole milk at the beginning of the study were less likely to become obese. And, in another review of European studies, consuming dairy was linked to lower risk of obesity.
  • Eating margarine instead of butter may increase your risk for heart disease. All the way back in 1997, the Framingham study in Massachusetts found that people who ate margarine instead of butter had an increased chance of developing coronary heart disease over 10 years. In other words, eating margarine raised their risk of having a heart attack. People who ate butter had no change in their risk.
  • Real food is better for you than fake food. The more food is processed and changed from its original form, the more important vitamins and minerals are lost. Butter and whole milk are whole foods, unchanged and left just the way nature intended.

So…think about it. If you’re a margarine person, maybe think about switching it up from time to time and adding butter to your family’s table. If you’re a skim milk person, consider drinking a glass of 1% or whole milk once in a while. But the bottom line is that you shouldn’t be afraid of a little whipped cream or butter now and then. It’s the sugar and processing that should make you stop and think!

Sources:

“Butter is Back” by Mark Bittman; published in the New York Times online on March 25, 2014. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/26/opinion/bittman-butter-is-back.html?_r=0

“7 Reasons Why Butter is Good for You” by Kris Gunnars; published online at http://authoritynutrition.com/7-reasons-why-butter-is-good-for-you/

“A Different Kind of Love: Fat and Me” by Jennifer McLagan; published online at http://leitesculinaria.com/66559/writings-why-animal-fat-is-good.html

“The Full-Fat Paradox: Whole Milk May Keep Us Lean” by Allison Aubrey; February 12, 2014 story on National Public Radio online at http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/02/12/275376259/the-full-fat-paradox-whole-milk-may-keep-us-lean

Five Things I Love About Food

By Aaron McNally

Moo Roo Assistant Manager

Working for a family dairy that produces, bottles, and distributes its own high-quality products (and retails other high-quality items as well) has been incredibly inspiring for someone who loves food. Day in and day out, my time spent working with and for the Hansens has given me much opportunity to consider all of the elements that prove food is one of the most important things in a human being’s life. I’ve jotted down five things that immediately came to mind.

 

Dairy foods provide nine essential nutrients and are one of the most affordable sources of nutrition.

Dairy foods provide nine essential nutrients and are one of the most affordable sources of nutrition.

5.) Food is essential. 

Everyone eats, or should. If not … well, I‘d hate to think about it. Almost all of the nutrition the body takes in comes from food. But more than that, what we eat, and how that food is prepared, can substantially influence our mood, the health of our skin, our digestive system, and our heart’s ability to perform its all-important job. Without food, no life. And without good food, no good life.

4.) Food connects us to our region, and our world.

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Hansen’s Dairy sells a variety of high-quality Wisconsin cheeses. Wisconsin is one of the top dairy producing states.

Every segment of these United States (and, indeed, the entire globe) carries with it some regional cuisine. Oftentimes, this cuisine is inspired by what ingredients are readily available. This unites people to their region in the most fundamental way. Whether it’s an Iowan eating an ear of sweet corn during the summer, a resident of New Mexico eating a dish spiced with heirloom green chiles, or someone in Maine enjoying fresh clams, everyone in every region has something that they associate with their geographical identity, whether they realize it or not. Even in the age of widespread global distribution of food, local abundance still characterizes a region’s style.

3.) Traditions are passed down through food. 

Family’s ethnic histories are passed down through dishes that stay in the family, and the smell or flavor of a favorite traditional food ignites emotions in a way that even the arts can not. In addition, learning how to cook is often an activity shared by grandparents and parents with their children and grandchildren. And who hasn’t instantly remembered a deceased relative when they were presented with, say, a certain type of cookie, or some classic casserole. And, like the regional connection that is made by certain available ingredients, regions and neighborhoods are often defined by their particular style of cooking, uniting friends and strangers alike via shared tastes.

2.) Culture is experienced through food. 

People come together over food in a way that they do no with nothing else. Dining with others offers an opportunity to share and communicate even with strangers. Food is always a staple at gatherings, reunions, athletic events, block parties, and awards ceremonies. But beyond the regional elements mentioned above, food can serve as the center of religious rituals and seasonal ceremonies, and can be the binding cement in certain urban environments where diverse residents might otherwise seem at odds with one another. Foodies flock to certain coveted spots, inspired by social media, and saveurs worldwide associate themselves with foreign friends via shared affection for certain culinary hotspots. In every tourism-heavy locale, the sale of food is an economic staple, not only because those travelers need to eat, but because these cultural hubs are in part defined by the variety of cuisine they serve.

1.) Eating involves all five senses.

My personal theory is that this is much of why we have such an emotional connection to foodit’s a wam-bam, all-inclusive sort of thing.

Visually, a chef takes great pains to make sure that an entrée has been properly “plated,” and this arrangement on the plate can sometimes seem like a variety of sculpture. When summer vegetables are in season, a full palette of vivid color can be seen across a table. (And rich, deep, or bright colors are often indicators of a food’s nutritional content.)

People may like or dislike something based on texture alone. When something is browned on top, it means not only a bit of color, but also a crunchy texture. Creaminess, chewiness, toughness, softness … these things can make or break a meal, and a lack of attention to them might prove a poor cook’s lack of technique.

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The aroma and sounds of the grill can easily ignite the appetite.

Aroma triggers immediate memories, instantaneous transport to Grandma’s house or the grade-school cafeteria. But it can also whet the appetite of someone not all that hungry before sitting down at the restaurant and smelling the light smoke wafting off the grill. Maybe I will have something after all.

Meanwhile, sizzles and crunches are omnipresent amongst culinary experiences. And in the preparation and serving of food, there are clangs and clatters of knives, skillets, spatulas, and plates, and the bubbling of beverages being poured into glasses. Add some laughter and chatter, cue a little music (preferably live) and voilà! You’re on your way to a very memorable experience.

Flavor might seem to go without saying, but its connection to mouth-feel, aroma, and the visual and auditory sensations we’ve been discussing makes taste perhaps the most important element of all. Like the five senses, the five major flavors (sweetness, sourness, saltiness, savoriness, and bitterness) span a gamut of psychological possibilities. And the very word “taste” indicates whether or not we might value a certain person’s opiniondo they have it? Have they been paying attention?

***

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Ice cream is one of the delicious dairy products made on the Hansen farm.

Every day, I get to see all of these elements at play in the world of the family dairy, and amidst Iowa’s agriculturally-driven culture. What could be more exciting? If this piece has your taste buds’ attentions piqued, stop by one of our retail stores or consider taking one of our farm tours. Additionally, consider eating at one of the many restaurants that boast an attitude of “Buy Fresh, Buy Local,” or just get out and attend a summer barbecue or church potluck. Or heck, just treat a friend or family member to dinner — homemade or restaurant procured. There’s an inspiring life of food surrounding us, and amidst it an infinity of blessings.

 

 

 

 

A Cow’s Salad Bar

Ever wonder what the Hansen dairy cows eat to produce such great tasting milk and dairy products?

To keep our cows healthy and help them produce high quality, great-tasting milk, they are fed a meticulously calculated mixture of dried cracked corn, distiller’s grain, linseed meal, corn silage, alfalfa haylage and vitamins and minerals. Our cows have more balanced diets than most people!

Let’s take a closer look at these ingredients.

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  • Dried Cracked Corn:  These dried corn kernels broken into small, coarse pieces are high in carbohydrates and starch.

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  • Dry Distillers Grain:  As ethanol production uses only starch from the corn kernel, the remaining protein, fat, minerals, and vitamins make distillers grain. Instead of throwing the kernel away, the cows make use of the remaining nutritional value. It’s like eating the chicken after you’ve used its feathers to stuff your pillow!

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  • Linseed Meal:  A byproduct of extracting the oil from flaxseed, linseed meal is high in protein and fiber.

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  • Corn Silage: The entire corn plant – stalk, leaves, cob, and kernels – is chopped into small pieces, resulting in a feed that is loaded with fiber, thiamin and carbohydrates.

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  • Alfalfa Haylage: A grass crop that is cut and fermented, alfalfa haylage is a roughage material that provides protein, calcium and carbohydrates.

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  • Vitamins and Minerals: To round out the cow’s diet, they are given 1.5 lbs of vitamins and minerals including calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur and sodium bicarbonate.

Our Favorite Dairy Snacks – for June Dairy Month!

In honor of Dairy Month, we decided to show you a few of our favorite easy to make dairy snacks!

Smoothies: A great way to beat that nasty Iowa heat. Combine yogurt, milk, ice cubes and your favorite fruits and blend to make a tasty, refreshing treat! For an extra-thick smoothie with added calcium, include a spoonful of milk powder. For addition protein, toss in a spoonful of peanut butter with a banana and vanilla yogurt – yum yum!

Ice Pops: A great snack for kids on the go! Mix leftover smoothies from the above recipe or 100% fruit juice, yogurt and fruit like raspberries, strawberries or blueberries. Pour into ice cube trays and pop in the freezer for a sweet, frozen snack!

Parfaits: Parfaits are easily made by layering yogurt, fresh fruit and granola or chopped nuts. Looking for something a little different? Use cottage cheese in place of the yogurt!          Image (photo from blueprintforbeauty.com)

Mini Pizzas: A tasty, filling snack. Simply spread pizza sauce onto a whole grain English muffin and top with a small handful of shredded mozzarella cheese. For a heartier pizza, add lean hamburger, Canadian bacon and green peppers or mushrooms. Pop it in the oven for 3-5 minutes and enjoy your yummy, cheesy snack!

Fruit Pinwheels: Spread cream cheese and/or protein-packed peanut butter onto soft, whole grain tortillas. Add small pieces of fresh fruit, then roll and slice.

Quesadillas: Pack whole grain tortillas with shredded cheese, beans, corn, tomatoes and onions. You can also add cooked, cubed beef, pork or chicken. Heat in the microwave until cheese is melted. Serve with sour cream and salsa.                                                                                                                      Image (photo from babble.com)

Fruit Kebabs: Layer fruits like berries, melon and pineapple on a kebab stick. Serve with yogurt or a dip such as softened cream cheese with a touch of drizzled honey and a drop of vanilla.

Whole Grain Waffle Sticks: Transform messy whole grain waffles into an easy-to-eat handheld snack by slicing them into small rectangles. Serve with softened cream cheese and fruit spread.

For additional recipes and to learn more about dairy foods, dairy farms and healthy eating, check out these websites:

  • Midwestdairy.com
  • Dairyfarmingtoday.org
  • 3aday.org
  • Nutrientrichfoods.org

Leave your favorite dairy recipes in the comments below!

Test Your Knowledge of Hansen’s Dairy!

This month, Hudson’s 4th grade class visited Hansen’s Dairy for an educational field trip. To test their listening skills, we put together this 20-question quiz.

Have YOU visited the Hansen’s farm lately? Want to test your knowledge about Hansen’s Farm Fresh Dairy? Give the quiz below a shot!

Or, if you’re curious to learn more about Hansen’s Dairy and their products, call 319-939-2187 to schedule a tour of the farm and creamery!

Hansen’s Farm Fresh Dairy Quiz  

1)      How much water does a cow drink in a day?

1 gallon                 20 gallons            40 gallons

2)      About how much food does a cow eat in a day?

90 lbs                             120 lbs                  140 lbs

3)      What is a baby kangaroo called?

Joey                              Kid                          Bobby

4)      Do male kangaroos have pouches?

Yes                 No

5)      What’s in the silos?

Corn silage                  Milk                       Beans

6)      About how much does a full grown dairy cow weigh?

1,000 lbs                       1,400 lbs               2,000 lbs

7)      What breed of cows do the Hansens have?

Holsteins     Guernseys          Angus

8)      How many times a day do the Hansens milk their cows?

Once                             Twice                    3 Times

9)      Where did the original wallabies come from?

New Zealand                      France                  United States

10)   How many stomachs does a cow have?

One                               Two                       Four

11)   Are cows herbivores or carnivores?

Herbivores                  Carnivores

12)   How long is a cow’s gestation period?

4 months                     9 months             12 months

13)   About how many gallons of milk does a cow produce each day?

10 gallons                    20 gallons            30 gallons

14)   At what temperature does the milk come out of the cow?

80 degrees                  101 degrees       202 degrees

15)   How big are calves when they’re born?

40-60 lbs                      80-100 lbs            120-140 lbs

16)   What is a young female cow called?

Heifer                           Guilt                      Filly

17)   What do the Hansen’s do with their bull calves?

Sell them                     Milk them           Keep them as pets

18)   What does pasteurization do?

Adds flavor                                 Removes the fat              Kills bacteria

19)   Which dairy product do the Hansen’s NOT produce?

Butter                           Cheese Curds                    Yogurt

20) How many teats (“spigots”) does an udder have?

3                              4                              5

Answers:

1) 40 gallons           2) 90 pounds                    3) Joey                  4) No

5) Corn Silage          6)  1,400                       7) Holsteins             8) Twice

9) New Zealand           10) Four                       11) Herbivores           12) 9 months

13) 10 gallons          14) 101 degrees           15) 80-100 pounds        16) Heifer

17) Sell them           18) Kills bacteria             19) Yogurt            20) 4

A tribute to Daddy during June Dairy Month

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Daddy sharing his cows with Reese on his first Father’s Day. She’s a little scared in this photo but has really warmed up to them now.

Since today is Father’s Day, and June is National Dairy Month, I decided to share what makes my husband the best dairy daddy.

Blake loves showing our kids (Reese, 3, and Beckett, 1) all about being a farmer. Reese has already had a lot of hands-on experiences with cows and is discovering all the different aspects of raising them.

I love how he is instilling in our children (and his nieces and nephews) his love for animals. He is patient, caring, sensitive and kind, both in his work life and home life. He works hard until he gets the job done, then comes in and plays hard with the kids.

I love watching Blake be a dad. I would be proud if our kids grow up to be a farmer — or a parent — just like him.

Written by Jordan Hansen

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Reese feeding calves (and thinking the bottle is for her)

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Daddy lets Reese milk one of our most docile cows

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Part of doing chores means feeding the wallabies.

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Even inside the house, Reese enjoys looking at cows with Daddy.

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Beckett gets a closeup view of our 7-week premature calf Eyelash.

 

“Live as though you’ll die tomorrow, farm as if you’ll live forever” Sustainability at Hansen’s Farm Fresh Dairy

Dairy farmers work diligently to uphold their legacy as good environmental stewards, and the Hansens are no different. Taking care of the land makes healthy cows, and healthy cows produce high quality milk. Most importantly, sustainability makes the world healthier for future generations. Here at Hansen’s Dairy, we implement many sustainability practices to help keep the planet healthy.

1) Water – The Hansens are very conscious of how they use water. When the cows are milked, milk comes out of the udder at 101°. A cooling system uses water to chill the milk to about 60°. This process helps keep the milk fresh from the farm to your refrigerator. That water is then recycled and given to the cows to drink.

2) Manure/Fertilizer – For every 1,000 pounds a dairy cow weighs, she’ll produce about 80 lbs. of manure each day. With 300 Holstein cows on the farm, that adds up quickly. Manure is cleaned out of the barns twice a day and pushed down a pipe that runs to a manure pit behind the barn. This pit holds 1 million gallons of manure. The manure is emptied from the pit twice a year, recycled and used on crops that are grown as feed for the cows, bringing its use full-circle.  The Hansen’s high-tech equipment injects the manure directly into the soil, minimizing the odor, runoff and atmospheric losses while adding rich nutrients to the soil and replenishing its fertility.

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3) Crop Rotation – The Hansens implement crop rotation to help replenish nitrogen in the soil. Crop rotation is also an important part of insect and disease control. Because many insects prefer to eat specific crops, continuous growth of the same crop gives them a steady food supply, and the insects’ population increases. To avoid this, the Hansens plant a field with alfalfa hay for four years and then corn for the next two years.

4) Conservation – The Hansens till their fields minimally and use contour and waterway systems to minimize topsoil erosion. When fields are frequently tilled, the topsoil becomes light and loose and can blow away in the wind. Contour farming minimizes erosion by planting crops around a hill, following its elevation contour lines, rather than planting in rows straight up the hill. These rows slow water run-off during rainstorms to prevent soil erosion and allow the water time to settle into the soil. Waterways provide paths for rainwater runoff to escape the field without taking precious topsoil with it.

5) Corn Usage - When the Hansens make silage for their cows to eat, they chop up the entire corn plant: stalk, leaves, corn, cob and all. This ensures none of the corn plant goes to waste. When the Hansens do harvest just the corn kernels, the rest of the plant is chopped up to make cornstalk bedding for the cows.

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The crops the Hansens take from the land to make feed for their cattle returns to the land as fertilizer in the form of manure. Being good land stewards, the Hansens try to make sure everything taken from the land is replenished.

Twins – Twice the Fun!

Twins are very unusual in cattle, and if you’ve taken a tour of Hansen’s Dairy, you know that of the 200 calvings each year at Hansen’s, about five sets of twins will be born. Female twins born at Hansen’s will get matching names. For example, names of the female sets of twins on the farm have included Flip and Flop, French and Fry, Shoe and String, and Lois and Lane.

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But when a heifer and bull are twins, that heifer may be sold and raised for beef production instead of becoming a milking cow at Hansen’s Dairy. This is because 90% of the time that heifer will be sterile (unable to get pregnant). If she can’t get pregnant, she won’t be able to have a baby and produce milk.

When we tour guides tell our guests about this phenomenon, they often ask what causes this. After a little research, I found that these sterile heifers are called freemartins and that the heifer’s sterility is caused by blood vessels becoming interconnected between the heifer and bull. The blood then flows from one twin to the other, and male hormones like testosterone circulate and interfere with the heifer’s sexual development. The male hormones then masculinize the female twin, and the result is a sterile female.

Listed below are several interesting facts about freemartins.

· For the most part, the male twin is largely unaffected by sharing blood with his sister.

· Freemartins will have masculinized behavior and non-functioning ovaries.

· These heifers will behave and grow in a fashion similar to castrated male cattle (steers).

· It is very difficult to determine by palpation if the heifer will be fertile until she is about 6 months old.

· At any age, a simple blood test can be done to detect the presence of male Y-chromosomes in the white blood cells of the heifer to determine if she is sterile or not.

· In about 10 percent of different sex twins, no fusion of blood vessels takes place and the female remains fertile.

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· In fraternal twins, it’s possible to have two Holsteins with different colors. The photo shown is a Black & White Holstein with a Red carrier gene. She was bred to a Red & White bull and had a Black & White/Red & White twins.

· Freemartinism is the normal outcome of mixed-sex twins in all cattle species and also occurs in sheep, goats and pigs.

Blake Hansen: Cattle Ob-gyn

About 200 calves are born each year at Hansen’s Dairy, and Herd Manager Blake Hansen serves as a type of cattle ob-gyn for the expecting cows. While difficulties during labor are uncommon, difficult labors are very hard on the cows and can lead to diminished milking productivity and decreased fertility. For these reasons, Blake keeps a close eye on the cows near the end of their 9-month pregnancy.

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Though each cow is different, Blake will see several indications that a cow is close to labor. In the week before calving, her feed intake decreases and her udder will start to swell. Young heifer’s udders can start swelling as early as 1 month before labor. Several days before labor, the ligaments on the tail head cave in slowly, then drastically when labor is only hours away.

During the first stage of labor, the calf is being forced toward the birth canal and the cervix is beginning to dilate. Because of the dilation, the base of her tail may appear to have a kink in it. At this point, the cow will be moved inside the barn to the maternity pen so she can deliver her calf in a dry, clean space.

Shortly after, the water bag will appear from the vulva. It will resemble a small reddish-brown balloon filled with water, or the bag may burst inside her. When this bag breaks, the cow will feel a release of pressure and she’ll get up to investigate. If she makes no progress for a half-hour after the water bag has appeared or burst, Blake will help the cow with her delivery.

During the second stage of labor the contractions become strong and coordinated. They will come 3 to 5 minutes apart. The cow will often lie on her side begin to push. She will be visibly straining.

Within an hour after the water bag has appeared, two small white hooves should emerge from the vulva while still in the embryotic fluid bag. After a few minutes, the nose will follow, then the shoulders, body and hind legs. The cow will immediately stand and turn to clean the calf with her tongue.

80% of births are unassisted and calves will enter the birth canal correctly, with their front feet first and nose between their knees. But sometimes, the calves may have limbs twisted, be backwards (breech) or too large.

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The above picture, from Oregon State University Extension Service (http://ans.oregonstate.edu/sites/ans.oregonstate.edu/files/extension/cattle/CalvingSchool-theCalvingProcess.pdf), shows a calf entering the birth canal in the correct position.

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The above picture, from Oregon State University Extension Service (http://ans.oregonstate.edu/sites/ans.oregonstate.edu/files/extension/cattle/CalvingSchool-theCalvingProcess.pdf), shows a calf in the birth canal with its front leg pinned back. A cow with her calf in this position would require some assistance during labor.

backwardcalfThis picture, from Oregon State University Extension Service (http://ans.oregonstate.edu/sites/ans.oregonstate.edu/files/extension/cattle/CalvingSchool-theCalvingProcess.pdf), shows a calf in the backwards (breech) position. Blake must quickly deliver the calf before the cow is pushing too much, or it will be hard to reach in and grab the hind legs.

The third and final stage of labor is the passing of the afterbirth. The cow’s uterine contractions will continue in order to expel the remaining fetal membranes. This will last anywhere from 1 to 12 hours.

Some tour participants are lucky enough to witness a calf being born. It’s wonderful to see the miracle of life before your eyes!

Written by Kelby Robb

Making butter — a fun and tasty snack

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Hansen’s Farm Fresh Dairy makes butter on a much larger scale, but the process is essentially the same.

Making butter is a fun, easy experiment — it’s educational and delicious. Try this at home with your kids. No old-fashioned butter churn required!

This activity will yield just enough butter for a single piece of bread or several crackers. For larger amounts of butter, use more heavy whipping cream and a mixer to thicken the cream. As a bonus, you can also make your own buttermilk by following these directions.

To start, purchase a quart of heavy whipping cream from Hansen’s Farm Fresh Dairy.

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Hansen’s Dairy tour participants shake their jars of cream.

Pour 2 tablespoons of the heavy whipping cream into a small sealable container (preferably glass, like a baby food jar).

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The chunk of butter is clearly visible after draining the buttermilk.

Seal the container and shake it vigorously for 3-5 minutes. The cream will start sticking to the sides, but you’re not done yet. Suddenly, a chunk of light, fluffy butter will clearly separate from the watery buttermilk and you’ll be able to hear it start slapping around in the jar. Once you hit this point, it’s important to stop shaking the jar (don’t over shake). The cream turns to butter because of the agitation and the warmth of your hands.

The butter isn’t ready to eat quite yet. Drain the buttermilk (the excess liquid) from your container. Next, spoon up the butter left in your container and dip it into cool water to rinse the remaining buttermilk from the butter.

When the excess water is gone from the butter, sprinkle on a small amount of salt, or even some fresh herbs, and spread it onto your bread or crackers. Enjoy your homemade butter!

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Let us do the work — try a tub of Hansen’s Dairy butter!

To store leftovers, put the butter in a sealable container and refrigerate it.

Written by Kelby Robb, Hansen’s Dairy intern

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