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Inspiration: Dan Barber’s “Foie Gras Parable”

January 25, 2012

Sometimes the middle of the week needs a little injection of inspiration.  My boss introduced me to this video at a managers’ meeting at the Co-op where we were talking about food and sustainability.  I keep coming back to it again and again, because this parable of symbiosis leaves me tingling all over with hope and excitement.

Symbiosis was defined in 1879 by German mycologist Heinrich Anton de Bary as “the living together of unlike organisms.”  Stories like this remind me to look around my own life and see what other kinds of  mutually beneficial  relationships are possible.  Which (maybe because I’m a bit of a nerd) is really exciting work!

I hope everyone is having a calm and productive Wednesday.  What’s been inspiring you lately?




Birthday Week 2012

January 23, 2012

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.



And So It Goes… 2012 Week 2

January 15, 2012

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?



Stop Motion Book Love

January 9, 2012

For all the other book lovers out there, a video that brightened my Monday.



2012 Week 1: Yoga, Mermaid Cafe and Kombucha Challenge

January 8, 2012

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 also had the privilege of taking some pictures at the Mermaid Cafe, to accompany an upcoming review in the Isthmus.

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!



01 January, 2012

January 1, 2012

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.”



The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

December 12, 2011

Hello all,

This year I was happy to take part in the first annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, organized by some fabulous fellow food bloggers (including Love & Olive Oil, one of my new favorites).  The deal was this: each person who signed up was given 3-4 cookie recipients.  By December 5th a dozen cookies had to be mailed to each one, and over the last week and a half the sweet selections of my bakers arrived at my apartment.

I received orange chocolate biscotti, s’mores cookies and chocolate pinwheels– three dozen cookies in all.  They were all delicious, and it was a lot of fun to come home to new boxes of mystery baked goods, wrapped up in cute packaging.

For my part, I made two different kinds of cookies to share.  I am not a recipe innovator like so many of my friends and acquaintances in the blogosphere, so I stuck with recipes I know by heart.  A couple of my tried and true.  Of course, I had to include my all time favorite holiday treat: birds’ nest cookies.

I have been making and eating “birds’ nests” for as long as I can remember.  They are easy, fast, and addictive. Very addictive. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Birds Nest Cookies

Makes roughly 2 dozen, depending on the size of your nests.

One 12 oz bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
One 6 oz bag of butterscotch chips
One bag of chow mein noodles
Marachino cherries (the eggs in your nest)
Shaved coconut (a dusting of snow)

1.) Break up the noodles a little to make them easier to shape into nests.
2.) Melt the chocolate and butterscotch chips together in a double boiler
3.) When they are completely melted, remove from heat and stir in your noodles.
4.) Drop the mixture spoon by spoon on wax paper  and quickly shape into a nest. (It is important to move fairly quickly, before the chocolate/butterscotch mixture dries!)
5.) Indent the centers with your thumb.
6.) Place a marachino cherry in the center of each cookie.
7.) Sprinkle coconut on the cookies to resemble snow flakes.
8.) Cool in refrigerator or on a porch/in a garage.  Serve cool- they warm up fast and can quickly become a bit messy!

Happy holidays everyone,