Wow, another week has passed. This week was a little bit special for me, as Thursday was my birthday. (!)
I don’t like to celebrate my birthday. I’m a bit of an introvert, and it always feels a little uncomfortable to ask a bunch of people to come out and celebrate the fact that I was born. Instead I usually get weird and awkward about it, brushing the occasion under the rug and hoping no one (besides my parents and brother) will notice.
But about a month ago I went to my friend Casey’s house to celebrate her birthday, potluck style.
It was delicious, fun, relaxed and even though I barely knew anyone there it was still one of the best parties I had ever been to. I was infused with happy warm feelings for weeks afterward. That night I realized that all you really need to have a good night is a bunch of great food and awesome people in a room together. So, in the interest of keeping my priorities in focus this year, I decided to go for it. I was going to have a birthday party and invite awesome people to eat good food, tea party style.
With the help of my talented roommate Erin (taking foodie photos in the image above) the apartment was adorned with balloons, streamers and flowers.
And my mom came into town for a couple of days, helping me make a table full of food.
We made vegetarian rolled grapeleaves, baklava, hummus with red pepper infused olive oil, bite-sized cucumber bowls with chive/garlic cream cheese or hummus filling, a lemon bundt cake with lemon frosting, chocolate brownies with chocolate frosting (the best brownies I have ever made in my life), and a cheese and cracker board. Friends throughout the evening brought quiche, homemade pizza, chickpea flat bread, berries, fancy bread and cheese, banana bread with chocolate chips and more. I made pot after pot of tea, and we pulled out our entire array of mugs.
And lots of awesome people came and ate and were merry. It was everything I hoped for. Combined with my paperwhites blooming on the eve of my birthday, it was as close to perfect as it could be. Thank you to everyone who came and made this birthday special!
In other news this week, I had another photo shoot with Chloe from The Style Project! The weather has finally decided to be full on winter, which has posed some location issues. This time we tried our first indoor photo shoot, at the Goodman Community Center. It was interesting, since this was the first time our aesthetic tastes really diverged. One thing I really like about this consistent collaboration is learning how to meld two different visions into one. We’ll be doing another photo shoot this week (hopefully outdoors) that will hopefully be more to both of our liking, but here are a few of my favorites from this past session!
In other style related news, one of Chloe’s blog posts from last week was featured on the Ruche blog this week as well- woot woot!
I also had the privilege of taking photos at the No Coast Kitchen dinner last Monday night… here are a couple of teaser shots. Full post to come this week.
And through it all I’ve been holding steady to my Kombucha Challenge! 23 days of booch and counting. I continue to notice a lack of sugar cravings, that has also extended to caffeine and a general reduction in appetite. I’m craving fresher, simpler foods and becoming more sensitive to foods that don’t agree with me (gluten and dairy). I feel like my system is clearing itself out, allowing me to notice small changes and shifts that I hadn’t before. I like it a lot, and with the end of January just a week away, I’m beginning to think about what my February Challenge should be. Perhaps a cleanse? If you have suggestions, I’d love to hear them!
The winter doldrums and heartbreak blues still have me in their clutches with some regularity, leaving me feel creatively and emotionally drained. My mantra for this past week is a reminder sent by way of magnet,
Never never NEVER give up.
I guess if I just keep on doing what I love to do, the pieces will fall into place… right? What is your favorite mantra to stay on track and inspired?
Hope all of you are entering this last week of January with something warm in your tummies and something smile-worthy in your heart. Thanks to all of the wonderful people in my life, I am fortified with both.
I’m having a difficult time accepting that today is the 15th of January. We finally have snow on the ground and my birthday is on Thursday, but time still feels unmoored. I know part of that feeling comes from being lost inside my head, sorting, filing, grieving and releasing. Each day feels incredibly long but when I look back it’s over in the blink of an eye. I wonder if there’s a technical word for this kind of feeling, this productive melancholy.
Fortunately for me, there have been a few great reasons to get out of my head and in tune with my surrounding over the past several days.
#1: Another fabulous photo shoot with Chloe from the Style Project. I am really enjoying having this standing collaboration with Chloe. Not only is it great to have a set photo opp to keep me developing as a photographer, it’s fun and interesting to meld our two (sometimes dissimilar) styles together, to create images that we both are happy with. Her favorites from look one appear on this post, and look two are featured on this one. Here are a few of my personal favorites.
#2: I finished editing and posting photos from a photo shoot over the holiday, with my dear friend Margo’s little gal, Rosalie. How can this face not make a day brighter?
This was the first time I had the opportunity to photograph a child, and it was a blast. Margo and I chatted over breakfast and coffee at Emmy J’s in Stevens Point while I snapped shot after shot of little Miss Rosalie. Here are just a few of my oodles of favorites. Love love LOVE this kid. She’s a powerhouse.
#3: Remember last week, when I took some photos at the Mermaid Cafe for the Isthmus? Well, here are my very first published images!
I am absolutely thrilled! Please oh please universe, let me have more opportunities like this one. If you get a chance, read the review (hint: it’s glowing). The Cafe will be closed for the next month to give its owner a chance to breathe and regroup after a big year… but stop in mid-February for some scrumptious local cuisine.
#4: My paperwhites are almost blooming. It feels good to be growing something beautiful, especially with the outside world covered in its frosty winter shroud.
#5: The Kombucha Challenge continues! 15 days of booch, and I’m feeling great about it. Still no sugar cravings (which is seriously a miracle- such a big change for me) and I’m feeling the detoxifying effects. Have you ever seen the nutrigrain bar commercial that talks about how sometimes “one healthy decision leads to another”? Although I really don’t think that eating a nutrigrain bar would be all that good of a choice, I do completely agree with that mindset. And that is what I notice happening with my Kombucha Challenge. As my sugar cravings go away, and as I keep on detoxing my body, I want to put other healthy things in too. More fresh fruits and veggies, less gluten and dairy. It’s really pretty fab.
Another shout out to the fab folks over at NessAlla Kombucha for sponsoring me on this Challenge!
NessAlla Kombucha founders and owners: Vanessa and Alla
How about y’all? Anything notable happen on this second week of January 2012?
For all the other book lovers out there, a video that brightened my Monday.
I can’t believe we’re one week into 2012. It either feels like it was just New Year’s Eve, or like it’s been 2012 for months. This week has been full. Back to work after a week away, drinking kombucha every day. On Thursday I went to a yoga class with my coworkers, which is our new (amazing) weekly ritual. It was especially fitting after seeing this hilarious video for the first (and subsequent 20) time.
I’m really excited to have some of my images in the Isthmus! I’ll post the review when it hits the presses, which should be sometime soon. It was such an honor to be asked, and I am just thrilled to have some of my images published. If you have a chance, you should head over to the Mermaid sometime soon. Their dinner menu is rocking.
I’ve also been sticking to my 30 Day Kombucha Challenge, drinking kombucha every day. It has been great! I drink about 8oz/day, in the late afternoon or evening. To be completely honest, I wasn’t expecting to notice any differences in just one week. However, I actually have! The biggest change has been the disappearance of my sugar cravings.
Before this week I used to crave sugar, big time. As in, I believe I had a sugar addiction. I would crave sugar throughout the day, deep and intense cravings that would have me rooting around cupboards or deep into the freezer for something to scratch my sweet tooth’s itch. Since drinking kombucha every day, they have completely disappeared. It’s kind of surreal. I can’t believe that a small glass of delicious, bubbly kombucha can make such a fast and total difference. It’s been wonderful.
My tolerance for kombucha has also gone up over the last week. The first day I drank about 6oz and had a little bit of a tummy ache afterward. Now I’ve upped my daily dose to 8oz and feel great after each glass, energized and satiated. I’m going to stick with 8-10oz for the next week, and maybe up it to 12oz for the last couple weeks of the month. I feel very lucky to have been sponsored by the fabulous folks at NessAlla! I’ve been making sure to drink enough water, as kombucha is also highly detoxifying. Can’t wait to see what changes I’ll notice over the next 7 days. I’ll be sure to report back my progress.
I hope you’ve had a good past 7 days!
It’s a brand new calendar year and I am feeling a bit adrift these days. 2011 was a hard year, one full of growth and of loss. I’m spending today, this first day, focusing on what I want to concentrate my energies on in 2012. Creative endeavors/work, family and friends, and cultivating better health- those are my top 3. My hope is that by focusing on these areas some of the other, more confusing, pieces of my life will fall into place. It seems fitting that, after a holiday filled with many of my very nearest and dearest, I should start two new projects on 01 January, 2012.
First, this morning I met up with my friend Chloe for a fun shoot for her blog, The Style Project. This was my first ever fashion shoot, and I had a blast. Even though it was freezing, with 20+ mph winds, Chloe got her style on and we braved the Wisconsin outdoors for a new year’s day shoot that leaves me excited for more. Look for more of my photography on her site in the weeks and months to come!
Today also marks the beginning of the 30 Day Kombucha Challenge! I’ve been sponsored by the fab ladies at NessAlla Kombucha and will be drinking kombucha every day for the next 30 days. I’ve written more about what exactly kombucha is in this post, where I also have some pictures of NessAlla’s magical brew. The aim of the challenge is to see how drinking this probiotic filled beverage every day changes my health. Maybe it won’t do anything, or maybe it will make a world of difference… Either way, I’ll be documenting the entire month here on My Year of Food!
Here I am with my first bottle of challenge bootch! Flavor: Elderflower Lemon Balm
I’m planning on adding a little more structure to my blog by starting a new challenge each month. I’m not sure what February’s will be just yet… so if you have any suggestions, or know of any cool community events that are going on, let me know!
I hope everyone had a wonderful end to 2011, and that 2012 started out on a high note. I’ll leave you with the T.S. Elliot new year’s quote that sums up my current state of mind.
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”
Came across this parable on Facebook today, and thought it was worth passing along. Not a big believer in heaven or hell myself, but I know, as we all do, the difference between suffering and joy. ‘Tis the season to focus on ways we can give to and receive from one another… though really, isn’t that every season?
In the spring we share our flowers; daffodils and tulips following the intrepid crocuses and bringing color back in our lives. We hunt morrels and saute asparagus, delighting in their freshness. We look up from the ground and start to see one another again, sharing glances, smiles and hellos that had been curtailed by biting winds and tricky ice.
In the summer we share tomatoes, and zucchini, and the other multitudinous veggies and fruits that threaten to drown us with their generosity. We open our windows and walk outside, passing along our sounds, our smells, and laughing in the warm sunlight. We spray each other with hoses, lay down picnics, exchange pie secrets, and buy lemonade from the neighbor kids’ stands. In the summer it is easy to be generous, to pass along a part of the bounty that the natural world has surrounding us. We walk together, celebrate together, leave out water dishes for dogs.
In the fall there are squashes and gourds, apples and pears, warm cider with cinnamon sticks. There are huddles in cold morning fog, shared umbrellas in inevitable drizzles and downpours. There are shared lap blankets and hay rides, thermoses of coffee and tea, homebrews and sweaters. And, of course, the trees share their last triumphant burst of color before going dormant, to gear up for another year.
And now, in the winter, when everything outside goes cold and silent, we turn to each other with warm muffins and cookies, hot chocolate and mulled wine. Whiskey and ginger. We hang lights and give gifts, exchange sweet sentiments and thank yous. In the best case, winter is the season when we look around without the distraction of abundance and see the bones of our lives, the unadorned staples of our being, and take a minute to appreciate them. The sources of our strength, the underpinning of everything else: Family, friends, community. Looking at what we have to be grateful for, we can see the potential for a new spring, another plentiful summer, a decadent fall. Winter, the time when many of us have the least to share, is the season where we remind ourselves of how important it is to share what we do have, to pay homage to our foundations. It is a time to listen, to give, and to receive.
In our most generous moments I can see the divine in each of us. I can see the potential for a more beautiful world. And that, for me, is the takeaway of this story.
Long ago there lived an old woman who had a wish. She wished more than anything to see for herself the difference between heaven and hell. The monks in the temple agreed to grant her request. They put a blindfold around her eyes, and said, “First you shall see hell.”
When the blindfold was removed, the old woman was standing at the entrance to a great dining hall. The hall was full of round tables, each piled high with the most delicious foods — meats, vegetables, fruits, breads, and desserts of all kinds! The smells that reached her nose were wonderful.
The old woman noticed that, in hell, there were people seated around those round tables. She saw that their bodies were thin, and their faces were gaunt, and creased with frustration. Each person held a spoon. The spoons must have been three feet long! They were so long that the people in hell could reach the food on those platters, but they could not get the food back to their mouths. As the old woman watched, she heard their hungry desperate cries. “I’ve seen enough,” she cried. “Please let me see heaven.”
And so again the blindfold was put around her eyes, and the old woman heard, “Now you shall see heaven.” When the blindfold was removed, the old woman was confused. For there she stood again, at the entrance to a great dining hall, filled with round tables piled high with the same lavish feast. And again, she saw that there were people sitting just out of arm’s reach of the food with those three-foot long spoons.
But as the old woman looked closer, she noticed that the people in heaven were plump and had rosy, happy faces. As she watched, a joyous sound of laughter filled the air.
And soon the old woman was laughing too, for now she understood the difference between heaven and hell for herself. The people in heaven were using those long spoons to feed each other.
Adapted by Elisa Pearmain from a Japanese and Chinese folk tale.
Cheers to all of you.