Bucket List 2018: Or this year has GOT to be better than last

I wanted to pick some specific actions for my 2018 bucket list, but truthfully most of these fall under overall goals to center myself on how I can make an impact locally, focus back in on my own needs and health, and be more mindful and present in my daily life.

  • Read more books. I just finished The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which was completely spell binding. Here’s what I’ve had on my shelves for faaaaar too long:
  • Focus on learning about food access issues in Indianapolis (and incorporate food access ideas and food rescue at the community garden).
  • Start a daily exercise routine. Here’s my obligatory “I just got a gym membership” mirror selfie from this morning:

20171231_082735~2

  • Attend Kheprw Institute community discussions.
  • Attend a Showing Up for Racial Justice white ally training.
  • Cut out alcohol.
  • Conversely, start going back to Indy Pub Knitters meetings again at least monthly. (In other words, save my drinking for special occasions with awesome people doing things I like).

20171123_151704

  • Focus back in on the community garden.

ReynaBiddy
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New Year’s Intentions, Part 2: What to NEVER, EVER Buy Conventionally (or What to Grow in Your Garden)

I was so excited about all the fancy words in my last post that I neglected the real meat/reason I wrote that post in the first place: to document which foods are best to buy organic and which are passable when conventionally grown.

During the summer, we hardly buy vegetables at all. We have so much growing in our yard that it’s difficult to eat it all at times. During the winter, though, we rely on others to grow our produce. The insane things we allow to be sprayed on our fruits and vegetables in this country totally freak me out, particularly now that we have a tiny, small being who loves fruits and vegetables in the house.

But the thing about buying organic or solely at the farmers market? $$$$. Really. I hate to say it, but $$$$. And also? Selection (at least at the standard chain grocery stores). And getting downtown to the weekly winter farmers market with a baby is just not always practical.

Dirty Dozen: The Environmental Working Group has a list of foods you should absolutely, never, OMG-you’ll-turn-green-and-die buy if conventionally grown. Strawberries are a really great one to grow at home instead (as well as spinach, snap peas, hot peppers, bell peppers, celery… shoot, just grow ’em all)!

  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Nectarines (imported)
  • Cucumbers
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Snap peas (imported)
  • Potatoes
  • Hot peppers
  • Blueberries (domestic)

Clean Fifteen: Look how many of Willem’s favorite foods are on this list! SCORE!

  • Avocados (BABY FAVE)
  • Sweet corn (BABY FAVE)
  • Pineapples
  • Cabbage
  • Sweet peas (frozen) (BABY FAVE)
  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Mangoes
  • Papayas
  • Kiwi
  • Eggplant
  • Grapefruit
  • Cantaloupe (domestic)
  • Cauliflower (BABY FAVE)
  • Sweet potatoes (BABY FAVE)

Resolutions: Confessions of the Garden and Eating Variety

So this is kind of embarrassing to admit, considering I love my garden and all growing green things so much AND considering I work for an urban micro-farming/health and wellness/general “get awesome with your bad self” non-profit… but wow, have we ever fallen off the healthy eating wagon as of late.

My biggest intention for 2015? Get back into whole, healthy, organic eating. Period. As much as possible.

20141231. Good intentions for 2015.

It started when Willem was born. I had no energy to make much in the way of healthy food, and I was starving ALL THE TIME, breastfeeding Willem, so getting calories of any kind was more important than trying to piece together healthy meals. 

Add to that the fact that the garden itself was rather sad last summer (I was a little too preoccupied with general functioning and raising a wee babe), and so even during prime eating season, we weren’t eating super great. Then… in saunters winter. And everything falls to shit.

Willem eats wonderfully. He is very much interested in food, and at 10.5 months, he still has never had a jar of store-bought baby food. The problem? Willem eats better than us. By a lot.

Which brings us to my goal of getting more healthy, whole, organic foods back into our lives. We’ll be looking into a meat CSA again for the early winter/spring and going organic (and hopefully local) for our vegetables. It’ll get easier once our SUPER-AWESOME GARDEN OF 2015 starts producing this spring, but the next few months will be a good testing ground.

20140104. Garden planning, v.2015.

Also? I just got this amazing book from my in-laws for Christmas. So excited to curl up with this, a wee glass of whiskey, and watch the snow fly outside.
Day 71. Wonderful Christmas gift from my in-laws and SNOW and football. Ahhh, Sunday. #100happydays

Resolutions, 2014 Edition (or Can We Just Continue on with the Awesome, Please?)

Last year, I had some kick-ass resolutions. How do I define “kick ass”? For starters, I actually kept them (to be fair, one of them was to drink more juice).

A brief recap: my 2013 resolutions…

  • Drink more juice. Check!
  • Apply for an apprenticeship this summer with Growing Places Indy. So much checking!
  • Take a trip with my honey. So we didn’t end up in Oregon, but our vacation did require passports. Check and check!

More importantly, though, it seemed my mental pump was primed this time last year for some big changes in 2013 (of which there were so, so many). It’s easy to list off the events that happened: got engaged, got pregnant, did an urban farming apprenticeship, learned so very much all summer long, expanded our garden, got married, went on an awesome vacation, had a fantastic baby shower, etc. etc.

20130907. Our Wedding!

However, the internal shifts are harder to quantify or even vocalize without starting to feel like a dirty hippie. But they are really, incredibly important to me. A few of the things I learned this year:

  • View the world through a positive lens.
  • Actively kick those negative, ugly, or self-defeating thoughts out.
  • Get excited about the immense number of things you can do, the things you can learn, the people you can meet, the ways you can move forward and just be better at being you; don’t worry about your limitations.
  • Actually, just kick those (mostly perceived) limitations to the curb while you’re at it.
  • Do it. Show up. Open your heart. Don’t be afraid.
  • Approach the world and especially the people in it with abundance and gratitude and thanks and gentleness. We all need more gentleness.
  • Let people know you appreciate them. Show your gratitude any time you can.

20130801. Growing Places Indy Summer Apprentices.

Speaking of showing gratitude, I am so thankful for so many people over this last year. My parents (gratitude times a million, this year and always, really); Chris, who got me through the worst days, supported me unconditionally as I came up with new schemes and dreams, and cheered me on through the best; Laura, Tyler, all of my Growing Places Indy peeps, and my inspiring, thoughtful, hilarious fellow apprentices this summer; Amy at South Circle Farm for so graciously opening up her farm to us on what turned out to be one of my favorite days this year, our wedding; Maggie at Fall Creek Gardens for being generally awesome and letting me help out with the new demonstration garden; our good local friends, fellow knitters, and neighbors; all of my girl friends scattered across the country, who listened during some damn dark days early this year; and my amazing, generous, loving extended family, of which I’ve always been so thankful to be a part and which expanded even more this year.

20130512. The whole clan.

So my resolutions for 2014?

  • Keep working to live all those hard to quantify, sometimes easy to forget life lessons I picked up in 2013. 
  • Approach motherhood and our soon-to-be expanded family with humor, joy, and adventure. Oh, the places we’ll go.
  • Go on a real vacation with my husband and my baby. Maybe this year will be our chance to roam the Oregon coast, expand our micro-brewery horizons among the Portland-hip, and introduce our baby to a starfish or two.
  • Continue to put myself out there and open my heart to people who make it easy to feel gratitude, thanks, and positivity.

Happy NEW YEAR! Here’s to lots of goodness in 2014.

20130928. New onesies for the sprout.

20131231. Chris' favorite Christmas present.

TREAT YO’SELF!

Last week, I did my first ever multiple day juice/veggies/fruits fast. Day one was a complete juice fast, but the rest of the days I incorporated raw and cooked veggies and fruits. Finally, I threw eggs back into the mix. I don’t think I eat horribly in general, but I wanted to reset how I look at food and move towards a more conscious way of eating. And, frankly, I have wanted to break the hold of processed foods, fried foods, and CHEESE for a while.

Dear baby Jesus in heaven, do I ever love cheese.

But get this – I felt fantastic this past week. It was hard, but not in an “I’M SO HUNGRY I COULD IMPLODE INTO MY CONCAVE, GROWLING, SHRIVELED STOMACH” sort of way. A few things:

  • The greatest difficulty I had was getting over my own head. I found myself getting up from my computer during the work day to make some tea, and the moment I was standing in the kitchen, my head switched over to, “What should I grab to munch on?” I hadn’t realized how strong that pull is.
  • The longer I went, the harder it was to put anything remotely crappy into my body. This, of course, was the desired outcome… so that was pretty sweet.
  • I also started thinking a lot about the whole concept of treating yourself. One of the main reasons I typically treat myself food-wise is because I feel like I’ve “been good,” which, in actuality, means that I feel I’ve been depriving myself or something is missing. But what if you looked at everything you ate as treating yourself? Example: fresh squeezed kale/pineapple/orange juice is DELISH, and it was not a stretch to think of it as a treat and to savor it. I tried to appreciate what I was eating and look at every bite as treating myself – treating myself right, that is.

By extension, then, what if you viewed your whole life as episode after episode of “treating yourself”? What would be possible then? I understand that cleaning the toilet will likely never feel like treating yourself. Your boss may occasionally be a hideous hose beast. Commuting in bumper to bumper traffic will probably never be elevated to “I’m totally treating myself right now” status (although a great album coupled with some inventive car dancing routines could perhaps ALMOST get you there).

20130209. Beaker's first egg.

Simple pleasures: cracking Beaker’s first giant egg to see what’s inside.

But if we make an effort to live our lives with a sense of levity and work to make more and more of what we do every day feel like a treat… what then? Think of how differently we would look at the world and each other. Think of everything we could do.

In honor of all this seeking and reaching, I give you this song: Cloud Cult, “There’s So Much Energy in Us.” I heard the captain say, “We’re so close to it. So very close to it. We still have energy in us.”

So far today, I have treated myself with the following:

  • Made (and ate) a delicious curried egg salad out of hard boiled eggs from my backyard tenants, aka the chickens.

20130209. Beaker and her giant egg.

  • Spent a good portion of my morning in the basement under the bright, clear grow lights, transplanting my beautiful seedlings, thinking about nothing… then friends and work and life and trips and to do lists… then nothing again… Just enjoying being with green things and dreaming of how they will grow.

20130209. Thank goodness for green things.

  • Hung out with my best feathered friends in the sunshine and relative warmth.

20130209. Backyard with the chickens.

  • Went for a long walk in the fresh air with my best furry friend, laughing as she ran through puddles and chased water droplets flinging off her paws, admiring her floppy ears and happy-puppy gait.

Birdie values inter-species relationships. Bean does not.

How did you treat yourself today? And, more importantly, what parts of your days are always a treat?

Stop the Presses!

BREAKING NEWS: I’ve decided I’m going to become more of a vegetarian again. I don’t consider myself a meat aficionado, but lately I haven’t been able to get away from the thought about what a huge impact eating meat has on the rest of the world. It’s such a selfish, short-minded thing, in terms of its impacts on our ecosystems, inputs required, and nasty outputs from the way most meat is produced in this country.

20120728. Distelrath Farms' poultry processing workshop.

Learning how to butcher a chicken from start to finish last summer at Distelrath Farm, Indianapolis.

At best, raising meat is a highly inefficient way to feed a population. So really, if I’m going to work towards living more sustainably and being less of a consumer, it was only a matter of time before I got to the conundrum of meat.

So what do I mean by becoming “more” of a vegetarian? I’ve decided to only eat locally produced meats – meats from farms I could actually go visit within the state of Indiana. This has the added bonuses of:

  • Supporting local farmers
  • Lightening my footprint in terms of greenhouse gas production
  • Minimizing the hormones and antibiotics that go into my meat (and, by extension, into me)
  • Limiting the amount of energy required to get meat from the farm to my place, simply based on its proximity

Win. Win. Win. WIN.

I’m also super lucky that our neighborhood restaurants seemingly more often than not feature meats sourced locally. No, I don’t have to give up my occasional burger at Twenty Tap, which uses hormone- and antibiotic-free meat from Fischer Farms. Thank goodness for that.

20120727. Little Red and Boo creepin' yet again.

Another huge part of this, in my mind, is raising our own proteins (in the form of backyard eggs) and growing our own vegetables, which can also be extremely energy-laden in our current food system to produce, depending on how the veggies are processed (frozen or canned, for instance).

Did you know it takes 35 kcal of fossil energy input for 1 kcal of beef protein? With that in mind, the quality of your meat better be really good to justify this very high use of fossil energy input. I consider this at least a small step in the right direction, in addition to expanding our garden.

early-august garden.

The backyard our first summer, July 2011.

20120513. One year in the house!

The same space, May 2012.

20121004. Chris cut up a ton of sod in the garden area. Halfway done!

September 2012. I need to get another bed in there this spring – look at that big, open space, just asking for some artichokes, tomatoes, beets, or chard!

Resolutions 101, or How 2013 Will Be the Year of Juice

I used to be one of those lofty resolution makers. Every year, I’d wax poetic about how I was going to lose 10 pounds, do 50 situps a day, ride my bike every day, eat nothing but green things for the entire month of January, etc.

Having a new puppy, though, I’m learning a lot about positive training. Basically, you want to set your puppy up to succeed, encourage her profusely when she does… and when she doesn’t do what you want, you ignore it and move on.

It’s like this bolt of stupid came shooting down from the heavens and illuminated my whole lofty resolutions bullcrap I’ve been pulling for the last decade. Shouldn’t we all be setting ourselves up to succeed? Shouldn’t we be using positive training on ourselves, making baby steps towards the things we want and the people we want to be? And why do we feel the need to default to extremes (“You WILL do this, you WON’T do this”), only to feel utterly crappy about it when we (of course) can’t possibly live up to these insane shifts in behavior we’ve tried to demand of ourselves? I say “bolt of stupid,” though, because none of this should have been an epiphany at all.

Or maybe it’s just me.

Anyway, getting back to resolutions, in the interest of setting myself up for success, I decided I will only make resolutions I know I can keep. Drum roll please… My resolutions for 2013:

      • Drink more juice. No, really. I got a juicer for Christmas, and carrot/ginger/pear is my jam.
      • Apply for an apprenticeship this summer with Growing Places Indy (and figure out a way to be able to participate in said apprenticeship if accepted).
      • Take a trip with my honey (like, a real vacation, not just down the road for a day or a long weekend), maybe to the Rogue farm out in Oregon.

There are a couple of others, too, but they aren’t really for public consumption. I’ll let you know when I achieve at least one of them, though!

In other news, we had a lovely New Year’s Eve at our neighbors’ house, and today we had our first four-egg day!

20130103. Happy New Year! Our first 4-egg day!

Pink, green, brown, and white! All four girls laid an egg today.

20121231. We're the creeps who bring eggs and bubbly for the NYE party hosts.

What? Doesn’t everyone bring a six-pack of eggs along with a couple of bottles of bubbly for their NYE hosts?