Thursday, March 27, 2014

An Experiment in Living Locally


I am thinking about adopting a "locavore" challenge for 23 weeks. With the opening of the farmer's markets, and my own seeds starting to sprout, I am thinking of only buying, and eating local products from April 6, until September 14. This would not only include food purchases, but also clothing and decor purchases. No big box stores, no Amazon, no cute etsy purchases from New York, and Arizona. Local artisans, clothing makers, farmers, etc. Obviously there would be some exceptions. A few I have thought of would be...

*Gas for our vehicles
*Toilet paper (there's just no way around it)
*Items needed for work (study materials, maps, uniforms, etc)
*Items already in the pantry or freezer (example: coconut and olive oil)
*When we are traveling to another state (example, when we go to Missouri for Baker Creek Fest), we are allowed to purchase local products from that area, and if necessary, eat out.

Does this mean giving up my beloved almond and cashew butters? Bananas? Saturday night date nights? Perhaps. The thought is this, if I can support my local economy by only buying local Tennessee products (including some Arkansas and Mississippi farmers who service my local farmer's market), and at the same time bolster our health by eating in season, local, organic products, why wouldn't we? As I said, it is a challenge, and an experiment, obviously I cannot foresee the future, so I don't know what other pitfalls I may encounter, or if we will be able to make it all 23 weeks. I am excited about the prospect, though. I am not sure if Matt will be following this 100%, but he has agreed to try when he is at home.
If I think of other "issues" I will add them, and I will try to blog the entire experience, what worked, what didn't, places I shopped, links to local artisans, etc.

Today...
Currently reading: On The Way Home: The Diary of a Trip from South Dakota to Mansfield, Missouri, in 1894, By Laura Ingalls Wilder, and, Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology, By Eric Brende*

Thanks for reading,

Wendy :)

 *I think I will add occasionally add a few questions to remember what I was doing (reading, listening to, traveling to) at this time.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Barnheart

I love this...

Barnheart: It's an Epidemic
By Jenna Woginrich

There's a condition that inflicts some of us and I can only describe as Barnheart. Barnheart is a sharp, targeted, depression that inflicts certain people (myself being one of them) as harsh and ugly as a steak knife being shoved into an uncooked turkey. It's not recognized by professionals or psychoanalysts (yet), but it's only a matter of time before it's a household diagnose. Hear me out. It goes like this:
Barnheart is that sudden overcast feeling that hits you while at work or in the middle of the grocery store checkout line. It's unequivocally knowing you want to be a farmer -- and for whatever personal circumstances -- can't be one just yet. So there you are, heartsick and confused in the passing lane, wondering why you cannot stop thinking about heritage livestock and electric fences. Do not be afraid. You have what I have. You are not alone.
You are suffering from Barnheart.
It's a dreamer's disease: a mix of hope, determination, and grit. Specifically targeted at those of us who wish to God we were outside with our flocks, feed bags, or harnesses and instead are sitting in front of a computer screens. When a severe attack hits it's all you can do to sit still. The room gets smaller, your mind wanders, and you are overcome with the desire to be tagging cattle ears or feeding pigs instead of taking conference calls. People at the water cooler will stare if you say these things aloud. If this happens, just segue into sports and you'll be fine.
The symptoms are mild at first. You start glancing around the internet at homesteading forums and cheese-making supply shops on your lunch break. You go home after work and instead of turning on the television -- you bake a pie and read about chicken coop plans. Then some how, somewhere, along the way -- you realize you are happiest when in your garden or collecting eggs. When this happens, man oh man, it's all down hill from there. When you accept the only way to a fulfilling life requires tractor attachments and a septic system, it's too late. You've already been infected. If you even suspect this, you may have early-onset Barnheart.
But do not panic, my dear friends. Our rural ennui has a cure! It's a self-medication that that can only be administered by direct, tangible, and intentional actions. If you find yourself overcome with the longings of Barnheart, simply step outside; get some fresh air, and breathe. Go back to your desk and finish your tasks knowing that tonight you'll take notes on spring garden plans and start perusing those seed catalogs. Usually, simple, small actions in direction of your own farm can be the remedy. In worst-case scenarios you might find yourself resorting to extreme measures. These situations call for things like a day called in sick to do nothing but garden, muck out chicken coops, collect fresh eggs and bake fresh bread. While that may seem drastic, understand this is a disease of inaction, darling. It hits us the hardest when we are farthest from our dreams. So to fight it we must simply have faith that some day 3:47 PM will mean grabbing a saddle instead of a spreadsheet. Believing this is even possible is halfway to healthy. I am a high-functioning sufferer of Barnheart. I can keep a day job, long as I know my night job involves livestock.
Barnheart is a condition that needs smells and touch and crisp air to heal. If you find yourself suffering from such things, make plans to visit an orchard, dairy farm, or pick up that beat guitar. Busy hands will get you on the mend. Small measures, strong convictions, good coffee, and kind dogs will see you through. I am certain of these things.
So when you find yourself sitting in your office, school, or café chair and your mind wanders to a life of personal freedom, know that feeling is our collective disease. If you can almost taste the bitter smells of manure and hay in the air and feel the sun on your bare arms, even on the subway, you are one of us and have hope for recovery. Like us, you try and straighten up in your ergonomic desk chair but really you want to be reclining in the bed of a pickup truck. We get that.
And hey, do not lose the faith or fret about the current circumstances. Everything changes. And if you need to stand in the light of an old barn to lift your spirits, perhaps some day you will. Every day. For some, surely this is the only cure.
We'll get there. In the meantime, let us just take comfort in knowing we're not alone. And maybe take turns standing up and admitting we have a problem.
Hello. My name is Jenna. And I have Barnheart.

Friday, February 28, 2014

This season

This cute list comes from this blog. It seemed like a nice way to remember what we are doing at this season in our lives.




Making: A cute banner, and baby stuff galore, for baby showers for friends.
Cooking: boiling water for tea... ?
Drinking: herbal tea
Reading: A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson andThe Hippocrates Diet by Ann Wigmore.
Wanting: Spring! The warm weather we have had has completely ruined the end of winter for me.
Looking: forward to to the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Spring Planting festival. I've been wanting to go for years and this year WE ARE GOING!! I cannot wait. The line up is amazing, and I cannot wait to meet the Gettle family! "Come and join us and 7000 gardeners at America's premier event of seeds, plants, music, culture and the celebration of historic foods. Enjoy a sense of community with fascinating seed collectors, renowned musicians, national speakers, historic demonstrators, food activists, home schoolers, western re-enactors, organic growers, gourmet chefs, free-thinkers, historic farm animals & poultry, Ozarkian crafters, trendy vendors and herbal hippies..." Yes, yes, yes!
Playing: outside! Zulu (the pup) and I have been loving this weather. She loves when we can stay out and walk more that 20 minutes at a time.
Wasting: time...writing this blog post, haha.
Sewing: Pillows for our bed.
Wishing: we had a huge backyard, and it was time to start our garden (can you tell I'm ready for spring??).
Enjoying: Feeling creative.
Waiting: to find out where Matt's job will take us. It's exciting and frustrating not knowing when and where you can put down roots. I try not to think that way, but it's hard to feel 100% commited to a place, job, etc. when you know you may be moving anywhere in the next year.
Liking: That it is Friday! Yay for the weekend!
Exploring: Using a sewing machine.  "Man, I feel like a woman."
Loving: Our new heaboard! I can't stop gushing over it. (Sorry, I'm not sorry.) I plan to write a post on it this weekend with my very primitive DIY instructions.
Hoping: warmer weather hits Memphis, soon.
Marveling: At what a little sunshine can do for a person. :)
Needing: to do dishes.
Smelling: the herbs drying on my rack in the kitchen. Wonderful.
Wearing: My mocassin slippers ALL THE TIME. Sometimes Matt has to remind me to take them off before heading out the door. Thankfully I have only forgotten and accidentally worn them to work once.
Following: Ukraine
Noticing: how much stronger I'm getting since adding a pilates class to my yoga rotation. Even though I miss the relaxation and long poses, I think I am becomingly slightly addicted to pilates.
Knowing: myself.
Thinking: all the time! My head is constantly spinning, going one million miles an hour trying to keep up with my crazy ideas.
Feeling: free.
Bookmarking: Blogs. Always on the lookout for new blog reads.
Opening: the books...ugh. Just got my study guides for the Series 7 Securities Exam. Yay me?
Giggling: with my husband. we have had some lovely conversations and fun, lately.
Feeling: Excited! About the future, about right now, just everything.

Obviously sunshine and springtime were on my mind.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Organizing, Budgeting, and a Meal Plan

Two of my goals for 2014 were 1) to become more organized, and 2) to stick to my grocery budget. I also get asked the question, "What do you eat?" all the time, so, I wrote up a meal plan and grocery list to knock out all three. Usually I just go to the grocery with a few things in mind, and then buy anything else that sounds good. It has worked for the past few years, but every night is a game of, how do I make beans, mangoes, and sauerkraut into a delicious meal? This is my attempt to challenge myself to stick to my meal plan, budget, and to answer the age old question, "what does a vegan eat?"

A few notes-
The "prep" work for some of these dishes (beans, bread, etc) simply means soaking the dried beans and cooking them (tip: I add a piece of kombu to the cooking water to aid digestion), and for bread, well, making and baking it. I try to eat a 100% whole foods, home cooked diet. We may occasionally hit up the Whole Foods salad and hot bars, or Cosmic coconut for a kale salad, or soup and smoothie, but for the most part I cook all of my meals, and the majority of Matt's (unless he has an overnight flight, then he goes to Mellow Mushroom and eats pizza, ha!).

Also, I didn't specify, but all foods are organic (if possible), vegan, and gluten free.

My classes are listed next to the dates, because it reminds me I need to have an easy throw together dinner for those nights when I go straight from work, to class, then come home to a hungry husband.

I eat (drink) the same breakfast almost every day. I just like it that much. Occasionally I'll have a green vegetable juice instead, but for the most part this banana-almond smoothie is my go-to.

Many people ask why I eat gluten free. Do I think gluten is the root of all evil and you should quit eating it? No, but I have a gluten intolerance. Not eating gluten has naturally kept my autoimmune disease from flaring, kept me off the terrifying medications my Doctors were trying to keep me on, and has truly given me back my life. If you are having issues, get the test, or just stop eating gluten for 30 days and see how you feel. If you, like my husband, can tolerate gluten just fine, then eat, my friend, eat! If you would like more info on this, just ask.

The grocery list is simply the things I needed for this meal plan, but is not a complete list of everything you would need to make the meals below.

Without further ado, this week's meal plan...

Meal Plan for January 31-February 7

31-Jan  Friday
Dinner- Baked potatoes topped with back bean chili and no-cheese sauce (a mix of veggies, raw cashews, and nutritional yeast), and steamed broccoli
1-Feb  Saturday (Body Sculpt)
Breakfast- Banana-Almond Smoothie
(Frozen banana, baby spinach, almond butter, almond milk, ground flax seed, cinnamon/cacao)
Lunch- Leftover chili and no cheese sauce atop quinoa, with steamed broccoli
Dinner- Veggieful Salad with blackened tempeh and a lemony-herb vinaigrette
2-Feb  Sunday (Yoga)
*Prep beans and bread for the week
Breakfast- Banana-Almond Smoothie
Lunch- Smashed Avocado & Garbanzo massaged kale salad
Dinner- Broccoli no-cheese soup, small salad, and homemade bread
3-Feb  Monday (Yoga)
Breakfast- Banana-Almond Smoothie
Lunch- Leftovers from last night's dinner
Dinner- Mushroom stroganoff, steamed greens with garlic, and a salad
4-Feb  Tuesday
Breakfast- Banana-Almond Smoothie
Lunch- Leftovers from last night's dinner
Dinner- Black bean tacos w/ corn tortillas (make your own), salsa, guacamole, veggies, and no-cheese sauce
5-Feb  Wednesday (Pilates)
Breakfast- Banana-Almond Smoothie
Lunch- Leftovers from last night made into a taco salad
Dinner-  Veggie lettuce wraps with rice noodles, tempeh, and spicy  almond-tahini sauce
6-Feb  Thursday
Breakfast- Banana-Almond Smoothie
Lunch- Use leftovers to make an Asian noodle salad
Dinner- Sweet potato with creamed kale, small salad (make 2, 1 for lunch tomorrow)
7-Feb  Friday (Sew Memphis)
Breakfast- Banana-Almond Smoothie
Lunch- Leftovers from last night
Dinner- My sister is coming to town!!!
*Snacks- Apples, clementines, green juice

Shopping List
Lemons-5
Limes-4
Apples-8
Clementines-1 box
Bananas- 2 bunches
Yellow Bell Pepper-4
Red Bell Pepper-4
Green Onions-2 bunches
Onions-1 bag
Mushrooms-3 pkgs
Shallots-2
Broccoli-3
Romaine hearts-3 pkgs
Baby Spinach-1 pkg
kale-3 bunches
chard-3 bunches
Potatoes:
2 Baker
2 sweet
Avocado-4
Cherry Tomatoes-1
Cilantro-2 bunches
Parsley-2 bunches
Cucumber-2
Celery-2
Tahini- 1
Nutritional Yeast
Cacao Powder
Apple Cider Vinegar
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Raw cashews
Quinoa
Quinoa Noodles (for mushroom stroganoff)
Brown Rice Noodles (for lettuce wraps)
Masa (corn meal for making the tortillas)
Tempeh-2


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sprouting, and lessons learned



Sprouts are delicious. I have always been a lover of them. Mung beans sprouts on top of soup or salad, alfalfa sprouts in your sandwich, can't get enough! For Christmas, my husband, Matt, gave me some new varieties I had not tried sprouting before, lentils and garbanzo beans, yum! We have also started sprouting wheatgrass for our juices. It's such a fun activity, I love coming home  from work and checking on my little "garden." The thing about sprouts is, you have to do a lot of waiting. Sprouts take patience. Now, compared to other plants, sprouts are ready to eat very quickly. With most varieties, from the time of soaking to consumption only takes about a week, but the thing is, aside from watering them, and making sure they are properly draining, all you are doing is waiting.
There is a lesson to learn from all this. Sometimes, we treat life like sprouts. We are so worried about the end result, where we see ourselves in ten years, what we want to do once we get (insert goal here), how we will feel once we lose 10, 20, 30+ pounds. We believe happiness is a destination, and we sit around waiting for whatever it is that will take us to it (a person, a promotion, etc.). The thing is, the only thing keeping us from being happy at this moment is us. Happiness is not the cause of something, happiness is a choice, a state of being. At this moment, as I write at my desk in a cramped apartment, I could easily say, "Once we have a house, and an office, and all the storage we need, once I have the yard and beautiful garden I want, then..." Instead, I choose happiness today, at this very moment. I am happy because I have a roof over my head. I am happy because I have a loving husband to share my cramped living quarters with. I am happy because I have a lovely little kitchen garden working hard at sprouting away, right at this very moment. But even without any of these "things," I can choose happiness. I can find something positive and focus on it. I do not have to wait to sprout and become my full potential before I get to be happy. I think choosing happiness is part of what grows us, what pushes us to who we are supposed to be, and where we are trying to get to. It's not a de-motivator, it is the ultimate motivator! And can we all agree this world needs more happy? The only thing keeping us from being happy today is us.
Well, I'm off to water some wheatgrass.





Thanks for reading,

Wendy

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The First Post

I decided to start a blog. I know, I know, everyone and their Grandma has a blog now. I am late to the game. This blog won't be on any specific subject, more a way to journal memories. I want to share a small look at our lives. A way to connect with faraway family and friends.
Currently, Matt (the husband) and I are renting, while saving up to buy land and build a small, happy home. I dream of owning land to garden, and trees to climb and hang hammocks from. A big backyard for the dog and (future) kids to run through. A laundry line to hang clothes from. Until then, I'm a happy "kitchen farmer" who grows herbs, sprouts seeds, and brew kombucha in our little apartment kitchen. Join in on our successes and failures (and maybe pass along a little old timer wisdom) in this crazy, lovely life.

If you read this, thank you.

-Wendy :)