Monday, September 27, 2010

Faith of a child

Beautiful, spiritual, funny, quirky, wilderness-loving Allie. 

What a blessing she is to our life. I never really thought about being a stepmom before meeting Zach, but Allie has brought such joy to my life it is sometimes hard to contain. She is a marvelous old soul and has profound maturity beyond her age. Seeing her grow, experiencing her wisdom, and getting to know her amazing character has been something I could never imagine. I love her and am honored God would entrust me with one of his most beloved children. (I know God doesn't play favorites, but if he did, Allie would be at the top of the heap :))

The other day,  Zach was talking to Allie about coming to see her in Alabama and she was disappointed I would not be able to make the trip. Zach began to try and explain that even though we desperately wanted to all be together, there was just not enough money in the bank for us both to come this time. (heart-breaking for us by the way...) Without hesitation though, Allie matter-of-factly replied, "Well then just ask God for the money."

Her simple response almost stunned us. Unbeknownst to her, the issue of traveling to her and being apart from her had been weighing quite heavily on us over the past few months. Moving to Florida and being 10 hours away was never our plan, but where God's path has led. Even though it has not been difficulty-free, we are certain of his calling and trusting him to provide. The distance from Allie has been the most painful thing for us and not being able to witness all the little details of her life.

Our burdened spirits were shaken with Allie's response and reminded that it is that simple. Oh to have faith like a child and not be jaded or fearful or wanting to control your own way! God is sooo great, and sooo powerful. He is over our circumstances and our ultimate provider. He knows our hearts, he knows our needs, and he is with us always.

The issue of faith has been on my heart since this conversation. I think God is driving me to that place where true faith - faith that causes you to abandon everything that feels "like the smart thing"or "what everyone else says to do," faith that literally is capable of moving mountains. Faith of a child. Belief in the impossible without hesitation. My friend Whitney always says we have "grace amnesia" and boy is she right. How quickly we can forget what God has already done for us and how he desires to do immeasurably more than we could think to even ask for if we only put our trust in him.

Thank you Allie, for reminding me of this truth. Thank you for the ways you encourage me without even knowing it. Thank you for your sweet spirit and your beautiful heart.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

My husband's hair tie

Zach continues to surprise me in unique and thoughtful ways. Here's the latest...

On occasion I find myself in a royal fit of frustration at home looking for hair ties. You know, a "pony tail holder" or fabric covered rubber band made for tying up one's hair.  For some reason these vanish at our house. One day I have 6, the next day - 6. I look everywhere, in every purse, in every drawer, in every dress with pockets and come up empty almost EVERY TIME. This infuriates me to no end and results in a small, lady-like tantrum because I can't stand losing things. This whole scenario happens more often than I would like to admit. :)

At dinner the other night (same dinner with the "chip" of butter incident), I looked over at Zach and saw this:

I was completely shocked to see one of my vanishing hair ties on my husband so I said, "Why on earth do you have that on your wrist?!"

His reply? "It's for you babe. I found one today and put it on my wrist so I had one ready when you needed it."

This touched my heart in a greater way than a thousand flowers or a trunk full of gifts.
My husband knows me.
My husband wears a hair tie to serve me.
Thank you Zachary Kale.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A small, flaky token of dung

So the other night Zach and I were at a restaurant. I ordered delicious red potatoes as my side item and this little ordinary delight came with it.

While Zach was in the restroom I inspected this little hunk of butter and noticed the interesting name on the label: butter chip. Hmm. A butter chip? The word struck me. I never ever would have thought to call this piece/ slab/ slice/ hunk of butter all dressed up in shiny silver paper a "chip." Nothing about this object was chip-like to me. A chip is a sliver of potato that comes in a salty bag with a lots of others and loads of calories. A chip is a delightful little cone-shape of chocolate heaven. A chip is a fry that comes with fish, not a hunk of butter.

Curiosity of the actual definition consumed me and I looked it up immediately when I got home. Wow. Was I amazed and simultaneously horrified...

Chip (the noun)

: a small usually thin and flat piece (as of wood or stone) cut, struck, or flaked off
: a small piece of food or a small thin slice of food;especially : potato chip, french fry
: a small cone-shaped bit of food often used for baking : chocolate chips
4 : something small, worthless, or trivial
: one of the counters used as a token for money in poker and other games
: something valuable that can be used for advantage in negotiation or trade : a bargaining chip
7 : a piece of dried dung —usually used in combination : cowchip
8 : a flaw left after a chip has been broken off

I couldn't believe the various definitions for a single word. How can one word describe semi-sweet gloriousness, a plastic token, cow poop, AND a hunk of butter? Words. They are so messed up.  It's actually amazing really. You'd think there would be less words in the English language since one word has 8 different definitions. 

SO I promise my vocabulary word nerdiness is almost done... 
The moral of the story? Use adjectives when talking about chips or I just might think you like a small, flaky token of dung.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The city has my heart

Zach and I both love the city, any city really. Even though we are both from small towns there is something simply fabulous about the city that captures our heart.

aerial view of Boston

The air, the bustle, the buildings, the culture, the spectrum of possibilities excites me to the core. Over the past couple years I have taken trips to Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco, Nashville, Baltimore, Boston, Montreal, Vancouver and Atlanta (of course). I have loved each one for their unique attributes and free spirit.

Although our current budget doesn't permit any extracurricular traveling right now, Z and I have our sites on a few locales we are desperate to get to (or back to). 

First on the list: Philadelphia

We feel a since of urgency about this trip due to the upcoming relocation of the Barnes Collection. 

inside the Barnes

This amazing, 30 billion dollar, private art collection is being relocated to downtown Philly from it's 90 year old suburban home in Merion, PA. The Barnes Foundation houses one of the finest collections of nineteenth and twentieth-century French painting in the world. An extraordinary number of masterpieces by Renoir, C├ęzanne and Matisse provide a depth of work unavailable elsewhere. Established as an educational institution the Barnes carries out its mission teaching classes in its galleries and Arboretum.

There's a whole lot of conflict and conspiracy about this relocation due to the fact it obliterates the conditions stated in Albert Barnes' detailed will. If you care at all about art and wanna know the whole scoop, watch "Art of the Steal" and you too will be rushing with us to Merion before 2011.


City # 2: New York, New York

Shockingly, I have never been to NY. Zach has, but only to play a few shows while touring with good ol' Nate Angelo. We desperately want to explore this city together and enjoy it's many sights, restaurants, and distinct personality. 

Brooklyn Bridge

City # 3: London.

Zach and I had our hearts set on London being our honeymoon destination. This did not work out for a number of reasons and we are thankful, considering all the smoke and grounded flights due to Iceland's disrupted volcano would have put a pretty huge damper on the whole trip. We would love to make it here sometime soonish though. It's expensive and hard to get away for a week at a time, but we want to so so bad! London is calling! Seriously, I mean, Zach talks in a British accent half the time and has multiple UK-themed t-shirts so I know we are destined to be here. 

London street

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Photo-fabulousness in Florida

Yesterday, Zach and I had the great privilege of doing a photo shoot with Ally Powell and John Carl of Duck Duck Collective. We wanted to capture our new life in our new location as well as get some additional shots in our wedding attire.

We had an absolutely fabulous time with them and shot until it was almost completely dark.  Ha! They are not only incredible photographers, but such a great couple! Wow! We enjoyed their company so much and hope we can hang out with them again in the future.

Since our photos are obviously not done yet from yesterday's shoot, I thought I'd post photos of them instead. Their personalities, personal style, and photographic style are very unique and beautiful. Thank you guys so much for your time, attention to detail, and amazing skills. You have blessed us!

Please check out their site or follow their blog. You don't wanna miss their great photography!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Perfect Preserves

Zach and I are seriously addicted to McCutcheon's Preserves! I stumbled across this brand at Whole Foods, but got really into it while shopping at the DeKalb Farmers Market in Decatur, GA.

McCutcheon's is a Maryland-based,  family owned and operated company that produces amazingly delicious products without preservatives. Their website is horrendous, but their products are so tasty I think I could eat a tree stump covered in the stuff. 

Seriously, what is better than a good piece of toast smothered in good jam? AH... one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. 

If you've never tried it or don't already have a favorite we recommend the apple pie, blackberry, and strawberry preserves. YUM.

We are absolutely desperate to find this stuff stocked somewhere in Florida since we don't want to pay the ridiculous shipping costs from the factory. If you know of a store that carries it, PLEASE tell us about it!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Chew with caution

I've had some more interest in the food stuff so I thought it required a second post. 

First off, I would like to recommend a second documentary on the subject, "The Future of Food." This was released in 2004 so it is already almost out of date (which makes it even more frightening to imagine what's happened to our food in 6 years). 

Now let's talk about the dirty subject. Genetically engineered foods are already a part of our daily diets. This should alarm anyone who eats food in America since no one really knows the long term effects of this on the human body AND the government does not currently require labeling of these products. Today, genetically engineered corn, canola, soybeans, and cotton are grown and distributed in the U.S. According to the Center for Food Safety, " Currently, up to 45 percent of U.S. corn is genetically engineered as is 85 percent of soybeans. It has been estimated that 70-75 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves--from soda to soup, crackers to condiments--contain genetically engineered ingredients."

YIKES. What the heck is going into our bodies? Nothing good, that's for sure. There are virtually no added benefits to the consumer (AKA eater) to GE foods and A LOT of negative effects and even more unknowns. It's super freaky that not only is our food being sprayed externally with chemicals, but being manipulated in unnatural ways on a molecular level. Not how God created it or how our bodies were meant to process it, that's fo sho.

So what does this mean for us, the unsuspecting ignorant, but hungry consumers? We need to use local food sources or grow our own as much as possible. 

So here's some tips I've come across and things I am trying to incorporate to make this work for us. Don't freak out if this seems out of reach for you right now. You can't just flip a switch one day and eat 100% clean and healthy food. The unhealthy food system surrounding us is too dominating. Set some realistic goals for making a change so you can establish lasting healthy habits over time. The long-term goal of course is to know what your eating beyond calories and carbs and have direct access to clean, natural foods. 

1. If you are going to try and grow some things yourself, start small. Find a few plants and/or seeds of items you like to eat in abundance. I have found a few organic non-GMO seed resources online, but currently have no experience with any. (Once I do, I'll let you know how it goes...)

(Burpee seems a little sketchball so I am not recommending them right now. )

2. Don't have a clue how/ when to grow plants?  There's a million trillion resources online to tell you how to plant, when to plant, what to plant, and where to plant. It's everything but an automated hand moving the dirt for you. Find a planting calendar that coordinates with your location and get to work!

3. If you're buying produce from an outside source, buy what's in season from a local supplier. "Why bother with this?" you ask. "The grocery store is 1/2 a mile from my house and the cashier knows my name." By buying local products you:

• eliminate the environmental damage caused by shipping foods thousands of miles
• your food dollar goes directly to the farmer
• your family will be able to enjoy the health benefits of eating fresh, unprocessed fruits and vegetables

Check out these maps and such to know what food is in season when:

4. This is simple, but read labels - and not just the calories or fat! Although the government does not fully regulate all the products and substances put in food, let's not ignore what they do tell us! It's so easy to just throw something in the cart and not realize every ingredient is an unpronounceable GE product. Some of it's tasty I know, but let's pay attention a little. :)

5. If you are going to buy non-organic produce, buy items where you don't eat the skin such as bananas,  onions, avocado, etc. Most chemicals and pesticides added after germination remain on the skin. Here's a list of the Top 20 fruits and veggies with the MOST pesticides and the LEAST. This should help you determine which items should always be organic if you can manage it. 

20 foods with the most pesticides:
  1. Peaches
  2. Apples
  3. Sweet Bell Peppers
  4. Celery
  5. Nectarines
  6. Strawberries
  7. Cherries
  8. Pears
  9. Grapes (Imported)
  10. Spinach
  11. Lettuce
  12. Potatoes
  13. Carrots
  14. Green Beans
  15. Hot Peppers
  16. Cucumbers
  17. Raspberries
  18. Plums
  19. Grapes (Domestic)
  20. Oranges

20 foods with the LEAST pesticides 
  1. Onion
  2. Avocado
  3. Sweet corn (Frozen)
  4. Pineapples
  5. Mango
  6. Asparagus
  7. Sweet peas (Frozen)
  8. Kiwi
  9. Bananas
  10. Cabbage
  11. Broccoli
  12. Papaya
  13. Blueberries
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Winter Squash
  16. Watermelon
  17. Sweet potatoes
  18. Tomatoes
  19. Honeydew melon
  20. Cantaloupe

6. If you can't afford the additional expense of organic all the time, make sure you thoroughly wash your produce with natural veggie cleaner. I have used Fit (sold at WholeFoods and other retailers). All produce should be washed, but especially non-organics. 

7. For cost savings, start or join a local buying club. A buying club is a way a group of people can combine their buying power to save money on local, healthy foods. 

Check out these lists to see if there is one (or a CSA) near you: United Buying Clubs or  CSA

8. Mostly, my advice is to just pay attention to what you buy and what you eat. Apples aren't suppose to be shiny and strawberries aren't suppose to be the size of your fist. Bread isn't suppose to last a month or worse, get better over time! Food comes from the ground and is perfect in it's natural state, made uniquely and intentionally to break down in a certain way in our bodies. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

You are what you eat

I love documentaries. I know that makes me a big nerd, but I'm ok with that. I know some are terribly lame, but they all have at least a tiny thread of interestingness to them. Recently "Food Inc." was recommended to me and wow, was it an eye opener!

For years I have explored alternative lifestyles when it comes to food and health. I've bought organics, virtually omitted processed foods from my diet, practiced naturopathic medicine, fasted, done liver cleanses, and even done colon therapy (TMI). All of this was done in an effort to be healthy- to cleanse my body of as much unnatural gunk as possible and let my body do what it was made by God to do. Although this lifestyle is very difficult to maintain (and unfortunately expensive!) in today's culture, I believe there is a lot of merit to it and lasting results.

Up until now, my personal food journey educated me a lot about food (the use of HGH, pesticides, poor farming conditions, etc), but never about the actual source of food. Insert "Food Inc." content. Watching this has renewed my commitment to not only eating healthy, but knowing where my food comes from. Surprisingly, this is a hard thing to do when you buy from a grocery store. We have come so far from natural food sources and local community resources.

If you care about your body, your children, and your life expectancy, I highly recommend watching this movie. It will change your perspective on a lot on our country's approach to food and distribution.

I've been doing some research lately and found some interesting stuff if you are wanting to buy healthy food from reliable local sources (and cheap!).

1. Buying local food in season is really the best thing, but finding local resources can be challenging. Check out this site to see what's in your neighborhood. I bet it will surprise you! Eat Well Guide

2. I just heard about CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and I think it's awesome and want to get involved with one. CSA is way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. Here are the basics: 

• A farmer offers a certain number of "shares" to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. 
• Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a "membership" or a "subscription") and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season. 

Genius right? Find CSA's near you at Local Harvest

3. There's so much out there when it comes to food, organics (what does that word mean exactly anyway?) that it's hard to make since of it all. I recently stumbled across this article that I think has some great tips for making healthy living and clean food apart of our lives.    Tips for buying organics

I could go on and on about this and things you should know about food, but I feel like this post is plenty long. If you're interested, shoot me and email! :) Best of luck eating well!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Through the looking glass

Zach and I recently did some bartering with a friend and got a fabulous new camera with an incredible lens. We wanted to have this new gadget for business purposes and for pleasure. I have always loved taking photos, but have only had a point-and-click camera. This camera is so fun to use even Zach likes taking pictures now! Here's a few of my favorite shots we've taken as we learn to use this DSLR and master it's many features. Stay tuned for more photography adventures!

Camera- Canon EOS 40D
Lens - Canon EF 35mm f 1.4L

taken in our front yard by Zach

Jars and plants on our front porch


My amazing husband

button detail

red shoes