Happy Veganniversary to Me! And Happy Birthday FSTS Blog!

This week, maybe today(!) is my 5-year veganniversary. This is also the 5-year birthday week for this blog, Wow how time flies…

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This is usually the post of the year that I recap the last year and that one was quite eventful. Here are the highlights: I graduated with my Associates Degree, I passed my DTR exam, I started a full-time job at a non-profit, I started the Rutgers Master Gardener Certification and tonight I am hosting my first ever vegan potluck.

Overall it’s been a great year, there have been challenges but what would life be without its ups and downs.

As the next year begins for me and this blog I have decided to focus on Hunger, Nutrition and Agriculture – my three passions. My work at the foodbank has reignited my passion for helping people and I am grateful to be able to do something that I find meaningful. I also plan to have a kickass garden this year with lots of flowers and vegetables, so stay tuned for those updates. Finally, my love health, wellness and nutrition I think shapes everything else.

I look forward to the next year and hope to see you all there with me!

 

It’s Garden Lust Time!!

Hello Friends,

Today I am feeling giddy thinking about the seeds I purchased on Sunday. I also picked up seed starter soil, cell flats and some vermiculite. I decided I wanted to buy seeds this year to diversify my garden. I still have plenty of seeds that I have saved that I will use this spring, however I could not resist the seed catalog!

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Image Courtesy of Amenic181 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A list of the newbies:
Blue Hubbard Winter Squash
Andover OG Parsnips
DeLuxe Lettuce Mix OG
Watercress Cresses
Roodnerf Brussels Sprouts
Kale Mix
Cosmonaut Volkov OG Tomatoes
Black Prince OG Tomatoes
Gardeners Sweetheart OG Cherry Tomatoes
Elecampane OG Elecampane
Winter Savory Winter Savory
White Yarrow Achillea
Love-Lies-Bleeding Amaranth
Butterfly Weed
Autumn Beauty Mix OG Sunflowers
Mammoth Grey Stripe Sunflowers
State Fair Mix Zinnias
Beneficials Flower Mix
Cutflower Mix

And of course I have the usual standbys:
Kabocha Squash
Calabasa
Peas
Acorn Squash
Butternut Squash
Borage
Calendula
Peppers
Swiss Chard
Collard Greens

Looks like I will need to fill my calendar with seed starting dates. I also plan to start expanding the beds into the back of yard as I would like to have more of a botanical garden in the yard than just a lot of grass. That’s where a lot of those herbs and flowers will go.

What seeds are you lusting after this season?

To Minimize or Not to Minimize

That is the question. Jared’s been trying to do this for a while and I am officially on the bandwagon. I have come to the realization that I/we have way too much stuff, I am drowning in stuff. Sometimes I wonder if I have hoarding tendencies, I shouldn’t wonder though, I know that I am at least a word hoarder (books, journals and magazines). I know I also have a hard time getting rid of certain things, especially if they came from a departed loved one.

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Image Courtesy of Sumetho / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I do dream of a clutter-free life and living. I long to walk from one end of our 100 square foot or so office to the other without cringing, tripping, or climbing over anything.

So this week I have decided that I will begin to minimize my life and space. The first project I tackled was clearing out old magazines and journals. Next to my bed I had three stacks of journals and magazines about a foot high each, and I thought I was actually going to read all of that! I say had because with a whoop of joy I put them ALL into the recycling. There isn’t an article, exercise routine or composting tip that I wouldn’t be able to find digitally. I also took some workout clutter and deposited that into the basement where I have been working out lately. Now the bedroom looks and feels great, the chaos that I felt from that pile is gone, it’s a perfect space for rest and tranquility.

I then tackled the living room, specifically a corner table that was beginning to look a little, no, a lot knickknacky… I HATE knickknacks. When we were kids we would throw out my mother’s knickknacks and pretend they broke while cleaning when she would ask about them. Away went old National Geographics, colored bottles and stuff that I hadn’t looked at or needed in years. Instead I took our family photographs and put them on the table, it was nice to see old photos I forgot we had. I didn’t get to finish the mantel, no worries, that will get done in a jiff.

Next room to tackle: The Office!

The bedroom and the living room were the warm-ups for the office. That room has a lot of things I have a hard time getting rid of, including books and old schoolwork. Since I also use it as a home-office, I have client work in there as well. While the obvious trash will be gotten rid of, I need to figure out what to do with the things I legitimately cannot throw out, I think a couple of rough totes in the basement will have to do for now.

The office won’t be the end of it, I’ll still need to go through the bathroom, dining room, kitchen, basement and garage. The kitchen and dining room will be a challenge since we do entertain a couple of times of year.

I’m hoping that this exercise will have a two-fold benefit: 1) making our living space look better with minimal clutter 2) releasing the clutter will help get creative juices flowing, minimize stress and make our home a true sanctuary.

Who knows, maybe we’ll end up in a tiny house some day…

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Image from Slight Blog by Trainer Tiny House

So if you’ve taken steps to live as minimal as possible let us know… And if you know of a good consignment shop in Central NJ let me know, I may have to make a few trips over the next few months.

 

New Year, New You

Yeah Yeah Yeah… Who hasn’t heard that before? This New Year I decided to take a different approach to “New Year, New You.”

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Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This time of year you get so many tips on how to make your life better, maybe instead you can make someone else’s life better, stand up for what you believe in or look into a cause that resonates with you.

The last few weeks of 2014 saw a lot of heartache (Ferguson & Staten Island), a bit of “it’s about time!” (Cuba) and some backing down only to give in (The Interview). If you put all of these stories together you get the central theme of doing the right thing.

The protests over injustices in Ferguson and Staten Island, recognizing the plight of the Cuban people and Sony deciding to stand up to bullies and show The Interview all exemplify the beauty of standing up for values.

So in this year’s version of New Year, New You go out and do something you believe in, no matter how big or how small. Your heart will smile, I promise.

Happy New Year!!

Actually I know January 1st doesn’t come for another 7 weeks but I just had a birthday and that means a new year in my world.

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Image Courtesy of Tiverylucky / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As I reflect on the past year, that went way too quickly, I see that a lot has changed. I am now working full time doing a job (SNAP Outreach) that I love (yay!) and working on my business (Health Coaching & Writing) that I also love (yay!). While last year saw me saying YES to everything, this year has become the year of NO.

I realized this week that I don’t have to do everything that comes my way. That I have the freedom to pick and choose the projects I want to work on and do them well. I’ve decided to take a break until the other New Year to focus on what I want and can do; and it felt great not having a deadline looming this week.

I think nothing says self reflection more than that, we have to listen to our souls and if something does not feel right then be honest, most likely we won’t do it well and it will suck the energy out of us.

I know that many people feel that they don’t have a choice, yes we all have bills to pay. You can control a lot more than you think. You are the master of your domain.

How I Survived the Summer BBQ Season

Summer’s almost over and another BBQ season has gone by. We had our own last week which was a great success. We had lots of people, lots of great food and lots of good talk.

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Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’ve been pretty lucky this summer in terms of events and having food to enjoy. Most, if not all, of the hosts  had some sort of vegetarian/vegan option to eat. It’s also important to be a gracious guest and bring something, and for anyone with any kind of specific dietary requests it’s a bit of a no-brainer to bring a dish you like to eat. It’s also a great way to turn people on to new ways to see how yummy plant-based foods can be.

While I don’t have a photo of what I made for this summer’s BBQ I will share the recipe:

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Image Courtesy of Adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Wheatberry Salad

3 Cups Sprouted Wheatberries
4 Cloves Garlic, Pressed
1 Tsp Salt
1 Red Onion, Chopped
1/2 Cup Walnuts, Chopped
3-4 Stalks Celery, Small Dice
2 Large Carrots, Shredded
1/4 Cup Cilantro, Chopped
3 Ripe Tomatoes, Chopped

Vinaigrette

1 1/2 Cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tsp Oregano
Salt to Taste
Pepper to Taste

Soak wheatberries overnight. Rinse the wheatberries and cover in about 2 inches of water, add the garlic and the salt. Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer for 30 min. (If you cook without soaking it will take longer so keep an eye on them.) Drain the water with a sieve to keep the garlic in, let the wheatberries cool and combine with the veggies.

In a blender or large jar (if you are using an immersion blender)  combine vinaigrette ingredients and blend until well homogenized. Pour over salad and let marinade overnight.

You can play around with spices for the dressing, add chickpeas or navy beans and include a diced apple for even more crunch.

What was your favorite recipe for summer BBQs?

Listen to Your Inner Voice

Do you ever get that little voice inside your head telling you to do something? Sure you do, we all do – but do you listen to it? I mean actually pay attention and listen to what it has to say?

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Image courtesy of Mr Lightman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sometimes we find it easy to ignore those inner voices, however, we know that what they have to say can have an impact on our day – heck even on our life. How often do we find ourselves ignoring that little voice to find out later on that if we had listened to it we could have avoided <insert crappy scenario here>?

So the next time you have a nagging little voice telling you what to do, stop and listen for a minute. It might actually make your day a little easier.