Monday, December 15, 2014

Solidify Our Vibrancy

There was something about the small white padded envelope that was stuffed into my mailbox that stirred emotion deep inside me. I recognized the handwriting on the envelope, just like I would the voice on the other end of the phone before the days of caller id. Inside the package was a birthday card full of wisdom and a rose quartz heart. Rose quartz represents love, is known to heal the heart, calm emotions, and even help to release suppressed emotions. Sitting on my couch, just in from a long day at work, the small box open, the card still in my hands, I could feel my eyes well up with tears. It was the gesture that caught me off guard, the sentiment.

Technology has graced us with so many gifts, but it's also dulled our vibrant connections. While a constant stream of text based well wishes throughout my birthday lit me up with a smile, none of them brought a rise to my heart like the white padded envelope or a voice on the other end of a call. Even a phone call is a rare gesture these days, when a text can so easily do the job, a call solidifies our vibrancy. A single day out of the entire year it's nice to be reminded of our connections, it feeds my heart and soul.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

We Needed Milk

There was no sign of sunshine out my bedroom window. I tossed and turned, knowing I wouldn't fall back to sleep. I have an unspoken rule to not get out of bed while it's still dark out, unless I absolutely have to. Then my mind focused on the fact that we are going on three mornings with no milk in the house. Two days in a row I drank coffee sans milk. TWO DAYS.

So I dragged my ass out of bed and went to the store, at 6:30 am.

It wasn't light out yet and the first sign that I should not be functioning outside my house at that hour, was a car coming head on towards me head where normally two lanes travel east. What in the world was going on?!? Oh just some magically appeared overnight road construction, bright lights, and a glimpse of a ginormous hole dug out in the westbound lanes. I safely pulled into the parking lot.

I tried to focus on what I needed as the brisk air came rushing over me walking into the store. I grabbed a basket instead of a cart, which was mistake number one. A basket is always my attempt to keep it simple, only what I can carry. Remember I was just running in for milk, that damn milk they put in the very back corner of the store, curse grocery store designers.

Oh my goodness, there was inventory going on, all these random people with hand scanners. Then to top it off, they were rearranging the shelves. The cereal aisle was GONE, the shelves were empty. Why me. I powered through, waking more with each step, I felt like I was in a dream. Fruit, bread, puffs, two KIND bars, gallon of organic milk, yogurt. I put down the heavy milk to pick out the yogurt, then I grabbed some organic chicken tenders. I got to the register and truthfully looked around like where the hell is the milk I came in for? Oh yeah, the milk I set down to pick out my yogurt? I told the woman running the self checkout registers that I had to go back and get the milk I spaced. My check out did not go smoothly, a container of yogurt I picked up was cracked and leaking. The quart of yogurt I picked up instead of my gallon of milk needed to be put back on the shelf. I accidentally scanned an item getting out my reusable bag and I could not figure out what item it was.

I've come to two conclusions, self check out should not be open until people are properly caffeinated or I should just stay in bed until the sun rises.

Do over?


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

My MasterChef Junior

Somehow last year we discovered Master Chef Junior, even without having broadcast television. Maybe it was fate, as the girls have become devoted to Chefs Graham, Gordon, and Joe. Not to mention, they are incredibly inspired by the contestants ranging in age from 8 to 12. Granted they've always been great helpers in the kitchen, but now they want to take charge. Tonight, Sj made dinner, full on by herself, the entire meal. Rice which she cooked with turkey bone broth (we had already prepared after Thanksgiving) topped with a sauté of turkey, carrots, onion, kale, and herbs. Of course she even garnished the dish with fresh parsley because isn't presentation just as important as the food itself?


How lucky am I? Trust me, I know. 

Side note, here's a funny interaction I had on Twitter with Graham Elliot because he's awesome!




Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Welcome, XXIII

Twenty-three. 23. XXIII. Twenty-three is one of the most powerful prime numbers, only second to seventeen in my opinion. Although, thirteen is my favorite prime number and culturally speaking we could easily agree that thirteen carries the heaviest cloud of superstition over it.
Redwood Forest, 1993
And today, December 2nd, marks twenty-three years J and I have been together. More importantly, December 2nd was the day we picked to mark our anniversary of being together. We were hanging out a lot before the 2nd, but a year into it and I felt like we needed a commemorative date. While the cliche is, in a blink of an eye, I can't really quite fathom how twenty-three years have passed. How do you wrap your arms around that? Two decades and three years. I could think of a hundred ways to make the number and I'm not quite sure it would solidify the magnitude of this milestone.

This human being came into my life when I was a child. While the first sight of him left my heart racing and cheeks red, over the next few years our friendship blossomed. Once we became romantically intertwined, we never once hit the stop button. I never saw twenty-three years into our future, but here I am basking in it. I contemplate how the chemistry stays so incredibly vibrant and our communication styles fail time and time again, only to be reinvented. We continue on, navigating new territory, learning from yesterday and discovering just how wonderful twenty-three years later could be.

It's like everything and nothing has changed, simultaneously.

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Monday, December 1, 2014

December. D E C E M B E R. December.

December arrived with a double take. This morning I was half asleep, did one of those eyes closed blind reaches to grab my iPhone from my nightstand, pressed the home button to see what time it was, when my eyes transfixed on Monday, December 1. DECEMBER. I was instantly awake, December woke me right up. I've found with December, it's sometimes easier to hop up and buckle in, and enjoy the roller coaster ride that ends with Auld Lang Syne.




Thursday, November 20, 2014

Winter Swept In

Winter swept in during the night and then somehow in a depressing turn of events, the sun managed to disappear for days. I sat in my chair at work looking at the tree branches swaying in the wind, blowing snow released from the branches in every direction. A dimmed orb was hiding behind the murky clouds trying desperately to break free. Packed snow turned to ice, our new normal becomes timid approaches to stop signs and holding hands to navigate the icy patches together. If one of us goes down, we all go down. Sometimes I see the light fluffy snow for it's sparkles, it's light reflecting properties, and pause to appreciate it. That pause typically turns to rapid movement indoors with a simple, yet forceful bone chilling gust of wind. The sun keeps fighting to come back. I feel like tomorrow may be the day when I'll close my eyes, turn my chin skyward, and welcome the rays back on my skin.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Whole Foods Market, Hostess and Party Go-To's

It's simply that time of year when even an invitation to a party becomes a thing. Does this sound familiar? Oh no we need to bring a side dish, by the way honey I said I'd bring dessert, what are giving your sister the hostess? Our plates are already so full, sometimes 10 minutes is all we have to spare on our way to a party. That's why my holiday party drive by is always Whole Foods Market.

Side dish, gluten free, dairy free, nut free? I certainly can find that at WFM. With out having the pressure of doing the cooking for dietary needs, I trust Whole Foods Market to have an option.

Dessert? Cranberry Apple Pear Crostada is always a hit and at $7.99 I can pick up two! We also love all of their petite desserts and pick up a dozen or so for smaller gatherings, they are so festive.

Cheese and Crackers? Here are some of my favorite picks. A couple unique cheeses always spruce up an appetizer spread. Or if you are feeling really adventurous and have like 20 minutes to peruse the cheese shop, create a Charcuterie Board which is always a hit.

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Disclaimer, I was compensated by Whole Foods Market as a WFM Ambassador for this post and giveaway! Content is purely at my discretion. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Fall For prAna

Autumn has finally arrived in Colorado, we've had gloriously mild weather, warm sunshine filled days. I felt the need to pull out some sweaters, maybe add a few new pieces to my wardrobe to freshen up my good old standbys. The girls and I took a little after school trip to Pearl Street to do some window shopping. I was lured into the prAna shop, by their window display and arrival of the Fall 2014 line. I walked by once and the second time on our way back to the car, the girls were like, let's go in! The new fall line feels just as good as it looks, the three of us found ourselves touching the sweaters, the cozy fabrics lining jeans and tops. PrAna creates this wonderful balance of progressively styled active wear, made with all my favorite fabrics. Their lifestyle lines are perfect for the office and weekend outings. Here are some of the pieces I tried on and I have to admit, with chillier temperatures in the forecast I am really regretting not picking up the white Mariska jacket. I may have to go back in for it.


Beyond wanting close to everything in the store, I have fallen for prAna's journey towards sustainability. Coming off of election week, no other notion has hit harder than every dollar I spend is a vote. Every product I buy is a vote for a company that I stand behind and the practices that I believe in. It absolutely makes a difference to me what materials are used in the clothing I wear, where and how it was produced (Fair Trade is a top choice). I look forward to sharing more information about prAna's business practices in future posts. 

On the trail in my new Halle Pant, easily cuffed when the sun came out! 

More info:



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I was compensated by prAna for this post, all content is my own.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Road Tripping With My Favorite Allies...

…Fully loaded we got snacks and supplies. It's time to leave this town, it's time to steal away. Let's go get lost, anywhere in the USA. Let's go get lost, let's go get lost. 
 -Red Hot Chili Peppers (Road Trippin)

There's something about traveling the open highways of the west that just speaks to me, speaks to my nature, speaks to my heart. The car gets loaded, I buckle up, sit back and take in the vast expanse just beyond the window. The sky meets rocky outcroppings, followed by the mountains consuming the sky, dried out plants silently calling for water to fall from clouds that aren't present, a sky blue like no other blue you've ever witnessed. The west is magnificent, full of splendor, captivating, alluring and it's just out my window. A blur sometimes, but my goal is to remain focused.

My eyes leave my handheld device for long periods which fills me with pride, I won't find anything inside a phone that will nourish my soul like nature's beauty. Faster than I anticipate, 6 hours passes and we are happily at our destination.






Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Non-GMO Awareness Month with $25 Whole Foods Market Giveaway

Did you know it is Non-GMO awareness month? Back in 2013 Whole Foods committed to providing GMO transparency in labeling of products sold in it's stores by 2018. I must admit, when the announcement was made, it felt so far away, but in this moment it feels right around the corner. 

So, what in the world are GMO's? 

GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. A GMO is created in a laboratory by altering the genetic makeup of a plant by splicing the DNA with foreign proteins and bacterias, viruses or other plants and animals. A Genetically Modified Organism can not occur naturally, it is created in a laboratory through genetic engineering by the manipulation of that plant/organism's DNA. Most importantly, a GMO is patent protected by the corporation that created it in their laboratory, which ultimately hinders third party and government research into their safety.

Why label GMO's? 

Unfortunately we can not see what ingredients were genetically modified with our eyes. It takes lots of personal energy to decipher which products "may contain GMO's" versus which products are clean and free of laboratory created organisms.  Here's a list of the most common GM crops:


High-Risk Crops**:
  • Alfalfa (first planting 2011)
  • Canola (approx. 90% of U.S. crop)
  • Corn (approx. 88% of U.S. crop in 2011)
  • Cotton (approx. 90% of U.S. crop in 2011)
  • Papaya (most of Hawaiian crop; approximately 988 acres)
  • Soy (approx. 94% of U.S. crop in 2011)
  • Sugar Beets (approx. 95% of U.S. crop in 2010)
  • Zucchini and Yellow Summer Squash (approx. 25,000 acres)

How To Support Non-GMO Month:

1. Buy organic, USDA regulations prohibit the use of GMO's in any product certified Organic. 

2. Look for the NON GMO Project label, this product has gone through a 3rd party certification process to ensure it is indeed free of GMO's. 

3. If shopping at Whole Foods, check out their 365 Everyday Value® products. Ingredients are sourced to avoid GMO's and hundreds of them have been NON GMO Project certified and the rest are in process. Here's a list of NON GMO Project verified products you can find at Whole Foods Market. 


 

Related information, Food Allergy Facts:

Up to 15 Million Americans have food allergies.

According to a study released by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, food allergies increased approximately 50% between 1997 and 2011.

Why have food allergies sky rocketed since GMO's were added to our food supply? Are we allergic to these foods or what has been done to them in a laboratory which is causing reactions in our bodies?


Sources:
Food Allergy Research and Education,
**Non-Gmo Project 
EPA regulates Bt Corn as Pesticide

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I have a $25 Whole Foods Market Gift Card to giveaway!
To Enter:

1. A comment equals one entry, comment as much as you wish, I will transfer over FB comments. Please leave a valid email address if you comment as anonymous.

2. Contest will close on Friday October 24th, 2014 at 10pm MST. 

3. 1 winner will be chosen from comments by Random. Org and notified via email.

4. Address must be provided within 24 hours or a new winner will be selected, the gift card will be shipped directly by the supplier of the giveaway.  

5. Open to US residents only. 



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Disclaimer, I was compensated by Whole Foods Market as a WFM Ambassador for this post and giveaway! Content is purely at my discretion. 


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Update the winner is comment #17, Neil K! I will be contacting you for your address. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Celebrating American Cheese Makers

photo source: WFM blog
October is American Cheese month and there is no better way to celebrate then by consuming some American made cheese! Did you know that Whole Foods Market employs over 200 Certified Cheese Professionals, which is more than half of the entire world's certified cheesemongers? Beyond all the accolades, I love sourcing cheese from Whole Foods for a variety of reasons. In the cheese department, you can try it before you buy it, just ask for a sample. My top reason for loving Whole Foods for cheese (other than the employees in the cheese department) is that you don't have to commit to the portion that is precut. You can ask someone to cut a portion to your exact specifications. This simple service has allowed us the opportunity to purchase and try a variety of cheeses, even a few that may be out of our normal budget. Confession, I love splurging on cheese.

My favorites and a few new ones we tried!

Haystack Mountain Applewood Smoked Chèvre is a local cheese, we've been buying for years. I love all of the Haystack Mountain's Chèvres. (goat)

Humbolt Fog by Cypress Grove, produced in Arcata, California. (goat) We've loved this cheese for years and have a special connection to Arcata, so are bellies are extra content when we eat it!

Kite Hill artisanal nut based cheeses. Great to add to a party platter for guests that have dietary restrictions!

Point Reyes Blue Cheese (cow) from California, you always need a blue cheese to bring a well rounded experience to a cheese plate! Zing! We also love Rogue Creamery from Oregon!

We always have a cheddar on our plate as well, but I urge you to talk to someone in the cheese department of your local Whole Foods Market and try a new cheddar! Venture out.

Related Links:
Cathy Strange, @WFMcheese is the global cheese buyer for Whole Foods Market and I love following her on twitter!

American Cheese Society Certified Professionals Directory (find one near you, great resources as well)


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Disclaimer, I was compensated by Whole Foods Market as a WFM Ambassador for this post. Content is purely at my discretion. 


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Total Lunar Eclipse, My Kind of Magic

4:15 am came faster than my mind had anticipated. I rolled over to look out the window and see if I could catch a glimpse of the moon from the comfort of my own bed. Nope. I got out of bed, pressed my nose onto the cold glass and let my eyes search for a glowing white orb. Nope. Dammit, reality hit me, I was going to have to put on pants, more than likely a sweatshirt, and a hat before heading out in the dark to watch the lunar eclipse. As I was about to open the front door, instinctively I grabbed the wool blanket off the sofa. The concrete sidewalk was cold on my feet, that just moments ago were snuggled under a down blanket. I walked fifteen paces and turned around, there it was, the moon aglow entering into the first phases of the eclipse. The moon magically hung in the clear night sky, the bottom beginning to show hints of a beautiful burgundy meets pumpkin, red and orange melding on the surface, the earth starting to cast it's shadow, the sun coming up from behind our backs, a glowing white crescent was hanging on the top right side to the very end.

A shooting star flashed across the night sky.

my super cheesy iPhone photo! I HAD TO!
It got dramatic around 5:20 am, the moon just disappeared. Sun, earth, moon aligned in that very moment and we were witness. We found ourselves laughing a lot, on the front lawn, curled up in blankets, appreciating the quiet of our surrounding and captivated by what we were witnessing. It didn't feel ridiculous to be up at that time of the morning, it felt magical. I thought about how many hundreds of thousands of pairs of eyes were staring into the night sky, waiting and watching, just like us.

As soon as the moon dipped below the Rocky Mountains, I gathered up my warm blanket and went directly back to bed, not to return to a slumber, but to be still and ruminate on what I had just experienced. Sleep can come tonight. A blood moon, total lunar eclipse, the type of splendor memories are made of.

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Sunday, October 5, 2014

Paint Meets The Page: Stay The Course

Last night, I could've turned on the computer and watched something on Netflix or mindlessly surfed the web, but I didn't. I picked up my cup of murky grey paint water, walked over to the sink, dumped it out, and refilled the cup with clear water. I watched the muddled grey paint leave my brush as I rinsed it clean. I was discontent with not being able to accomplish what I had set out to do earlier, simply fill a page in my sketchbook, so I started fresh. I put classical music on and propped the dj style headphones on my ears. I opened to a blank page and wondered what would happen.

For me, the creative process is not being in love with what I produce. It's simply taking the time, staying the course, remaining on the page when more times than not, my brain is telling me to rip out the page. Be done, let it go. At one point late into the evening I looked down and saw about 3 remaining blank inches on the page. I could see the finish line, I was almost there, and I saw it through to completion. I set down my brush and smiled, turned my journal upside down, and just observed what was on the page before me. What I created is not framable, it's simple a page in a sketchbook journal. It will remind me of the night I didn't give in to disappointment. It will remind me that if I push on through, I can find harmony when I feel like it has otherwise escaped me.

Life lessons, they come sweeping in unexpectedly sometimes.

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Saturday, October 4, 2014

Paint Meets The Page

Today I felt the desire to pull out my watercolors and release some paint on the pages of my sketchbook. I wasn't looking to complete a piece worthy of hanging on the walls, I was just giving my brain some creative space, asking it to accept what was spilled onto the page, allowing my hand to move freely and create.  Sometimes when I paint I feel anxious because so many aspects of the process lack control. I can't control how the paint meets the page, already wet from a previous brush stroke, or how the paint appears one way on my pallet, but vastly different in my sketchbook. 

Meh.
I fought my mind today, a few times. I started panting a purple flower I had taken a photo of last week on a hike. I applied the paint really thick and it almost appeared like acrylic, instead of watercolor. The heaviness of it irked me. I happily drenched my paint brush with water, applied it to the flower, and washed it away. A faint purple wash remained on the page. I moved onto organic lines and brush strokes, different thicknesses, mixing colors, allowing shapes to meet, and keeping shapes isolated. At one point I was really enjoying how it turned out and then I felt the overwhelming desire to rip it out of my sketchbook, so out it went. I couldn't capture what my mind was craving. 

I sat back, looked at the page on my bed and felt disappointed. I decided it was about the process, watching the paint leave my brush, waiting to see how vastly different the paint dried on my page versus when it was applied, fighting my mind that just wanted to see all the white of the page swallowed up by harmonious brush strokes. Accepting today was not the day I would experience that harmony. 

…maybe next time.