Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I LOVE holiday breaks!!!

I love celebrating holidays! I love that we have such a long holiday break this year and I love that I actually have some down time and I get to hang out with my family and do nothing if we choose to do so. I also love baking so I took a full day to make cookies with the kids and after about 18 dozen of cookies, I am done with even wanting to eat one, although the lemon ones in the picture are excellent and not too sweet.
Since Christmas we have being doing a lot of chilling out at home (in pajamas) and catching up with friends who we don't see often enough. We had one of our best friends from Vancouver stay with us for a couple of days, which was wonderful and we have had numerous evenings full of wine, food and great conversation with those we love the most. I also was able to host my first Feminist Potluck with a diverse group of feminists from all stages in their lives. I had a lot of fun catching up with the women from WIF and I can't wait to host my next potluck in February. We also have been catching up as a couple. It has been a lot fun reconnecting and actually spending time together when we have energy as oppose to the usual schedule. Did I mention we have actually been able to sleep in until 8 every morning?!

The holiday was fun, we hosted Christmas dinner for the Simon family for the first time and I think it was pretty successful. Since we are vegetarians we decided to just do a yummy spinach, walnut, Gruyere' lasagna and go with a lot of Italian sides and appetizers. We went to a wedding the day after Christmas that left me breathless; partially from laughing, partially from eating and drinking and the other part was from all of the beautiful Arabic dancing. Wow! If you have ever been to an Arabic wedding you know what I mean, if you have not, try to get invited to one! I have been to a few in the last nine years and I am always amazed and in awe of the dancing. At the reception the bride and groom were escorted in with a live Lebanese band and the dancing didn't stop for two hours. We finally ate dinner at a little after 9 p.m. and then continued on with dancing the night away. Congratulations my friends!!

Speaking of weddings...I am very happy to be celebrating my 6th wedding anniversary today! Not only are we celebrating the arrival of the new year, or our wedding, but also our first kiss. We kissed our first kiss as the ball dropped in 1999. I am so happy that Gregory kissed me that night because my life has been full of love, life, laughter and joy ever since. We have started a beautiful family and have a beautiful life. I truly feel blessed.

Before we leave in a few hours to celebrate this holiday/anniversary with our friends and family I wanted to take the opportunity to wish everyone a peaceful closing of this year and a prosperous year for 2009.

For the final entry of this year I thought it would be appropriate to post the prayers of the faithful from our wedding. These prayers mean a lot to us and as I approach this new year I will meditate on these prayers once again as they are still relevant in my life. Peace be with the world, and peace be with you...Happy New Year!

Creator of All, we rejoice that You make Your presence known in the beauty of human love. Filled with this faith, we make our needs known to You.

For this couple-that they grow in love through the realities of their lives together, we pray to the Lord~

For the parents, relatives and friends of Gregory and Lacey- that they continue to support and encourage this couple with their love and good example, we pray to the Lord~

For the relatives and friends of Lacey and Gregory that have gone before us- that they rest in peace, we pray to the Lord~

For the community leaders-that they always serve in the best interest of the people they represent, we pray to the Lord~

For all those who fight for the social justice of themselves and others, we pray to the Lord~

For parents, teachers and clergy- that they pass on a message of compassion and tolerance for all people, we pray to the Lord~

For those struggling with poverty, hunger or sickness-may Your grace protect and guide them, we pray to the Lord~

For our leaders-may they choose peace over war, love over hate and equality over privilege, we pray to the Lord~

Be with us, Lord, as we strive to do your will. Be with us to give fervor to our aspirations, fortitude to our resolves, comfort in our failings, gentleness to our care for others, and constancy to our love. We make this prayer through Christ, our Lord~ Amen.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


The holiday season is here once again and I find myself reflecting on the blessing in my life. There are many reasons why I love this time of year, most having to do with the people around me who offer me a sense of community and place. I have so many people and things in my life that I am grateful for and that I have been blessed with. I have a beautiful family, a loving & supportive partner and I have beautiful community all around me...not just one community, but many communities. As Christmas approaches I feel the need to thank these people for all that they have brought into my life; I am a better person thanks to all of them.

Feminists: To all of the wonderful, strong feminists in my life that encourage, support, listen, and challenge me~ thank you. Thank you for accepting me as I am and for encouraging me to just be me on a daily basis. I am proud to be a womyn, I am proud to be a feminist and being a part of this community has helped me find my voice and for that I thank you.
To feminists (womyn & men) around the world thank you for fighting the fight; standing strong through opposition and oppression. For putting yourselves on the front line in so many different circumstances and not backing down, but standing up for all womyn and fighting for true equality, true freedom.
Mothers: To all of the amazing mothers my life has been blessed with that offer insightful advice, experience and support, as well as their ears & mouths for listening, bitching, laughing, crying and for just keeping it real~thank you. I feel so blessed have dear friends at every stage of motherhood who aren't afraid of sharing their own experiences (good & bad), which is not always the easiest thing to do.
Gardeners and Homesteaders: To the amazing organization Detroit Agricultural Network and all of the knowledgeable and helpful members thank you for offering a urban community that is committed to sustainability in Detroit (of all places) and the local food movement. My own gardening knowledge & experiences would not have been possible without your help and resources.
To all of the other people who have come into my life that are as passionate about local food, organic food, sustainable agriculture, urban agriculture and having accessibility to fresh produce thank you for offering me your experience and amazing knowledge not to mention some amazing fresh food once in awhile!
To all of you blogging homesteaders~PLEASE continue to document your wonderful endeavors, I LOVE reading and learning from all of you and already in these few short months of blogging I have gained so much knowledge and so many new ideas. THANK YOU for sharing on a daily basis.

Detroiters: Oh...where do I begin on this one?! Thank you ALL (if there are any of you reading this other than my sister-in-law) for keeping it real and being committed to this city and the people of Detroit. I have to admit it has not been an easy 6 1/2 years in the city, but at more times than not it has been worth it! We have been through a lot in these last few years with our former mayor ( I will leave out all of the curse words since there are too many to list), city council and the school board and well...just plain life in the "D" and to see so many people committed to sticking it out because they believe in the revitalization of this city like we do, it warms my heart. 3-1-3 BABY!!

Holistic Health, Breastfeeding & Natural Birth Advocates: For walking the walk and not just talking all of this talk (and there is a lot of it) thank you. I know first hand it is not always easy to try to follow this lifestyle that is still seen by majority of the population as something that is weird or a fad. It is not always easy to stand up for what you believe in, whatever that may be, and I thank you for all of your strength in this war against the big pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies and established medical field, as well as the numerous individuals who try to stand in the way of practicing what you believe to be the best choices for your life and for the lives in your family. Please continue to educate about the benefits of these alternative choices and lifestyles.

Food & Cooking Enthusiasts: mmm.....for all of the food that you have made for me, helped me make or introduced me to, I say a full belly thank you. It has been so great to share this love for food with all of you. Not just the making of food, but the growing, the cultivating, the harvesting, the preserving and the creating of such beautiful food that nourishes our souls & bellies. Each collective cooking experience and meal that we share are some of my fondest memories and all of the recipes you share are like gold.

Yonis of the world: To this wonderful group of womyn who treasure the power of the feminine, thank you for always believing in each womyn and her powers and potential individually as well as the strength that we have as a collective group. Thank you for your daily rituals: manifesting, meditating, praying or whatever it may be that you continually do to uphold the sacred power of the feminine in yourself as well as ALL the womyn around you.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Everything pumpkin

So for those of you who cannot get enough pumpkin recipes in your life I thought I would post a few that are wonderful...that is if you like pumpkin! Since we still have two large lumina pumpkins left I will be continuing to create, explore and perfect this pumpkin mania that I have at the moment...SORRY GREGORY, I know you are SO ready to be done with the pumpkins!!!

This is a recipe that I picked up off another blog and it is good, but I would recommend making it with more OJ and less wine. I did make this for Thanksgiving instead of pumpkin pie and we all liked it a lot, but at random times you would get a bite of the wine-soaked ladyfinger and that is ALL you taste, the wine.


1 1/2 cups Heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup Sugar
1 Carton (8 oz) mascarpone cheese (cream cheese can be used as a substitute)
1 can (15 oz) solid pack pumpkin
1 cup Moscato, divided
3 tsp Pumpkin pie spice
2 pkg (3 oz each) ladyfingers
1/2 cup Orange juice
1/2 cup Crushed gingersnaps

In a small bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add sugar; beat until soft peaks form. In another bowl, beat mascarpone cheese, pumpkin, 1/2 cup Moscato, and pumpkin spice until smooth. Fold in whipped cream; set aside. Dip one package lady fingers, one at a time, into the orange juice. Place in a 13-in x 9-in x 2-in baking dish. Spread with half of the mascarpone pumpkin filling. Dip the 2nd package of ladyfingers into the remaining Moscato; place over filling. Spread remaining filling over the top. Cover & chill for at least 1 hour or overnight. Just before serving, sprinkle with gingersnaps.

This next recipe is a family recipe that I was given by Gregory's aunt for a vegetarian version of the traditional Lebanese Kibbee which is made with lamb.

Pumpkin Kibbee

4 cups baked pumpkin pureed

2 cups of burghal (cracked wheat) soaked in 1 cup of water

1 cup of flour

1 cups of chickpeas cooked

1 medium onion

1 dried red pepper (cayenne works well)

1 tsp. of mint

2 tsp. kibbee spice

2 tsp marjoram

2 tsp. of salt

1 tsp. pepper blend

Combine these last 7 ingredients in the food processor until well blended and a paste. Add in the first 4 ingredients and if too watery add a little flour to thicken it up. Pour into a well-oiled tray to bake for 1 hour on 375. I also have added a little brown sugar and pumpkin spice to the spice mix to give it a little something different.

Pumpkin & Cinnamon Pasta Sauce:

11 oz. of pumpkin and cut into cubes

1 lb. of Penna

1 onion finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic

1 tsp. of cinnamon

1 cup of cream

2-3 T. of honey

1/3 cup of fresh Parmesan

chopped chives

Boil Pasta until al dente. Steam or boil pumpkin until tender. Melt butter in pan and cook the onion until tender and then add garlic and cinnamon and cook for 1 minute. Pour cream in pan and add pumpkin and honey and bring to simmer and simmer for 5 minute until sauce is thick and heated through. Add parmesan until melted and season to taste with salt and pepper and pour over paste. Garnish with chopped chives and serve.

Curry Pumpkin Soup:

2 T. butter

1 cup onions chopped

1/2 cup carrots chopped

1/2 cup celery chopped

1 T. garam masala curry powder

3-4 cups of pumpkin cubed

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 T of canola oil

2 Q of broth ( I use veggie, but I am sure chicken would taste good to those who are carnivores :) )

1 cup os cream or half & half

1/2 tsp. of salt

1/4 tsp. ground pepper

Heat the oven to 425. While that is heating toss the cubed pumpkin in the maple syrup and oil and roast in the oven for about 30 or until nice and tender. While the pumpkin is roasting chop all of the veggies and in a dutch oven or a nice large soup pot heat the butter and add the onion, carrots and celery and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until all veggies are soft. Add the curry powder and stir for a minute. Add the roasted pumpkin and broth and bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes covered. Remove from heat and cool alittle. Put through the blender and food processor until nice and smooth. Return to the pot/dutch oven and stir in the 1/2 & 1/2 , salt & pepper and heat and serve with some good hearty bread to dunk.

* I created this so if you don't have fresh pumpkin try a butternut or winter squash or even (2) 15 oz. cans of canned pumpkin would probably work.

Maple Roasted Pumpkin Salad:

3-4 lbs. of pumpkin cubed

2-3T maple syrup

2-3 T of canola oil

1/4-1/2 tsp. of red pepper flakes

1 1/2 lb. of arugula or lettuce mix

1/2 cup crumbled feta (I use sheep milk feta and it is YUMMY)

1/4 cup pepitas

a sliced red onion

1/2 cup canola oil

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

couple T. of dijon mustard

pinch of sea salt

*put all of these in a jar and shake vigorously until well blended or mix in a blender

Heat the oven to 425. While that is heating toss the cubed pumpkin in the maple syrup and oil and pepper flakes and roast in the oven for about 30 or until nice and tender. Toast pepitas for a couple of minutes in the oven on a cookie sheet and set aside.

Wash the lettuce and top with the onion, feta, pepitas, and pumpkin and toss with dressing.

Pumpkin Oatmeal derived from Jessica Seinfeld’s book Deceptively Delicious

2 C. oats

2 C. milk (rice, cow’s or soy)

½ C. canned pumpkin puree

¼ C. raisins

2 t. vanilla

1 t. pumpkin pie spice

Combine all ingredients into a microwave-safe bowl (large, deep Tupperware rock ‘n serve!) and microwave on high for 3 minutes, stir, microwave for 3 additional minutes. Serve with a drizzle of local honey, agave, or maple syrup and a sprinkle of nuts.

Pumpkin Raisin Bread Strata

½ C. butter, softened

6 tsp. ground cinnamon

14-16 slices raisin bread

½ C. brown sugar ( I use less)

8 eggs

1 C. canned pumpkin

2 C. milk

6 T. maple syrup

2 t. vanilla extract

2 t. pumpkin pie spice

Spray 13x9 glass baking dish with cooking spray. Line bottom with half the bread, cut to fit if necessary. Mix butter and cinnamon and spread half onto tops of bread. Sprinkle with ¼ C. brown sugar. Make second layer with the remaining 7-8 slices of bread, butter/cinnamon spread, and remaining ¼ C. brown sugar.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs, pumpkin, milk, syrup, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice; pour over bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before baking. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until puffed.

Serve with additional syrup if you choose to do doesn't even need it!

Pumpkin Souffle

This is a very pure and dairy-free version of a pumpkin pie. It is crust free and a souffle style pie, which makes it gluten-free as well. The coconut milk makes it just creamy enough and you don’t need to add any oil or butter because the natural coconut oils add that aspect by it self. Therefore there are limited ingredients and this pie goes together very quickly. It is best the next day or a few hours after it has been chilled because it firms up very nicely. Hot out of the oven it is still very gooey and does not hold together it has more of the consistency of a hot sweet potato. Both ways it is delicious though.


1 Can Organic Coconut Milk (13.5 fl oz)

1 Large Can Pure Pumpkin Puree (29 oz)

2 Free Range Eggs

1 Tbs Cinnamon

1-2 Tbs Organic Maple Syrup

1 tsp Freshly Grated Ginger Root

1 tsp Nutmeg and Allspice

Place Pumpkin puree and coconut milk in food processor and mix until creamy. Add in the eggs, Maple Syrup, and mix some more. Lastly add the spices and mix just a little. Pour into pie dish and voila you are done!. Put in 400 Degree preheated oven for 45 mins-60 mins. Check if done by inserting a knife - it is done when the knife comes out clean.

Friday, December 5, 2008

It's a Gemini thing

I can't seem to stay on task these days and after pondering this all morning I have realized that this is a common occurrence in my life; I start one thing and then become bored easily and move on to the next before that task is completed. It is very common for me to have numerous projects going on simultaneously and I am always feeling pulled in numerous directions. On top of it, I have a very hard time just enjoying the moment I am in without thinking about some moment in the future. I am always struggling with this part of who I am because I don't allow myself to is like I am not capable of it.

I have never been one to follow Astrology that closely, but it has been of interest to me over the last year. Today I decided that maybe this is part of being a Gemini, which I have been told, but I have never taken too seriously. I decided to search around the internet about these crazy characteristics and see if it falls in line with my zodiac sign. I found this website that gave me a lot of insight so I thought I would post it for others who might be interested in getting a reading.

Check it out and see what you think...I was amazed and in awe of how right on it was for me. It gave me a little insight and peace about this part of who I am that I continue to question and struggle with. One more piece of the puzzle that I have found to guide me in being the best person I can be.

Now I must move on to the next project for today~Peace and Blessings

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

These are a few of my favorite things

Lately I have been listening to the music channels on Comcast and this morning while I was buzzing around doing laundry I decided to listen to the TV on the movie soundtracks and show tunes channel. A song came on from one of my favorite musicals, The Sound of Music: Favorite Things performed by Julie Andrews. I decided that I will start a posting of my current favorite things. This is just for some fun and I will continue to add to this list or even change it as I find new favorites. Enjoy!!

Favorite Salad Dressing: Pumpkin Vinaigrette; This is my variation on the one that was shared by a friend (Thanks Aubergine shoes!)

4 cloves of garlic freshly minced
1/4 C. of honey
1 T sea salt
1 t. black pepper
1/2 -3/4 C. of pumpkin puree- depends on the consistency you want
1 C. of rice vinegar or 3/4 C. of champagne vinegar
1 1/2 cup of vegetable oil or olive oil if you want a flavor with more depth

Favorite Sweetener: Star Thistle Honey from Pat Brady, a bee-keeper who is periodically at the Eastern Market and his honey is amazing. The Star thistle is my favorite, it is whipped and it's consistency is so creamy and SO GOOD! His Trefoil Honey is also amazing.

Favorite Snack: Power Bars from an amazing book titled: Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children. This is a must for anyone who is concerned about instilling healthy eating habits in children. They discuss nutrition for children based on age and address the issues of childhood obesity and diabetes in our country. It is also an excellent resource for parents who want to address the issues of healthy and fresh food in school cafeterias and has wonderful recipes as well. Such as this one:
1/3 C. of canola plus more to oil the pan
1/2 C. honey
1/2 C. light corn syrup
2 C. of rolled oats
3 C. of puffed rice cereal
1 C. dried fruit, we love raisins, golden raisins and cranberries mixed
1 1/2 C. almond pieces
1/4 C. shredded unsweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350 Grease a 9X12 inch pan. Combine the oil, honey and corn syrup in a pan on the stove and heat until warm, or in the microwave is fine too for about 1 minute. In a large bowl combine the rest of the ingredients. Toss together and then pour the warm honey mix over the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Oil a spatula or hands and press down lightly. Bake for 15 minutes. Allow to cool in pan then remove and cut into bars and store in an airtight container. I have found that if I bake longer than 15 minutes the bars don't stick together as well, more like a granola-which is perfect to top yogurt with-mmm!!!

Favorite Comcast Music Channel: 433, Soundscapes; this is so relaxing and has helped me during the day when I need something to help me find a place of balance. I turn it on and lay on the couch for a few minutes and meditate, sometimes drifting into a well-needed nap

Favorite Quote: "work is love made visible" ~Kahlil Gibran

Favorite Smell: Cinnamon Sticks , Cloves and Cardamon cooking on the stove or a fire in the fireplace, I love these smells every fall and winter

Favorite Hot Drink: Tibetan Chai, see the "Just Another Day" posting for the recipe and an Americano with the mellow flavoring from Bigby Coffee

Favorite Cold Drink: Raspberry Stoli with Lime Tonic and a squeeze of fresh lime juice and fresh raspberries. This was our favorite of the summer and still in on top of the list. A Key Lime Martini is not too far behind though!

Favorite Book: This is a hard one. I am starting to read The Secret Lives of Bees again because I remember really enjoying it the first time around. I didn't even know that it was a movie until a couple of days ago! I really want to get bees, maybe one day when we eventually leave the city I can and maybe chickens also :)

Favorite Magazine: I love Mother Earth News and Mother Jones. With the both of these I can cover everything that I am passionate about.

Favorite CD: Red Letter Year by Ani Difranco , December by George Winston and Vagabond Lullabies by Po' Girl (I love their websight also because it streams their music for you to listen to- I like it in the background while I write). I seem to listen to these CDs a lot.

Favorite Dance Song: Closer by Ne-Yo (Thanks Na!) I could listen to this 100 times in a row I swear. It makes me move, it makes me smile :)

Favorite Love Song: Lucky by Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat

Favorite new music source: Pandora Radio this is a really fun free music Internet sight that you can create your own stations based on a type of music you like or even an artist you like. It is a great way to be introduced to new artists. You can even get it on your phone! (Thanks farm mom!)

Favorite TV show: The Colbert Report , The Daily Show and anything political. I also love watching The Food Network and HGTV. And my guilty pleasure, The Kathy Griffin Show on Bravo, she is so far out there and wrong-and I LOVE it.

Favorite Holiday Movies: The Family Stone, Love Actually and White Christmas

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Oh to be back in college again! I am taking this moment to admit that I am a nerd and if I could be on college campus the rest of my life that is where I would be happiest.

Earlier this week I spent a day back at college and was loving every moment of it! Even trekking across campus in the bitter winds of winter didn't matter to me. It felt nice to be back in an environment that I have such an affinity for. I went back to Oakland to be a guest speaker at the request of my dear friend who is the director of the Women and Gender Studies department. She put together a small panel of former students who have graduated with degrees in WS to talk about what they are doing in life and how having a degree in this field has shaped their lives.

As I was driving there I was thinking about what I was going to say. I was the unemployed feminist who was going to be talking about how I have used my passion for women's issues and feminism to shape my experiences with volunteer work and my experience as a stay-home mother of two. I have to admit I was nervous because I anticipated the questions and the looks I would receive when I said that I am not only a mother of two, but a mother who chose to stay home.

When most people (including feminists) think of someone being a feminist they have a very clear image in there head of what that person looks like, what their politics are and what "choices" they have made with their lives. Feminists might be the hardest critics of each other when it comes to fitting the criteria or making the "check-list" . One is a feminist if....

So I went, I met some new, wonderful people and I spoke about how my passion for women's studies has shaped my life; how it has shaped each choice that I have made in my life. Because that is what we as feminists fight for, right? Freedom, equality and yes... choice. But I am curious as to when in the movement the idea of choice began to apply just to reproductive rights, abortion and sexuality and not EVERY choice a womyn makes as she transitions through her life. And also why it is that these other choices are not discussed, practiced, or supported in this community? I am sure that some would argue with me that feminists do believe, practice and support these range of choices and yes, I am one of those feminists and I am sure there are some others out there, but we are in the minority. My experience as a mother who is part of what is now considered the third wave, has not been welcomed with overwhelming support, or even moderate support. If I were to rattle off all of the times that I have been met with opposition from my own community for the choices that I have made this email would take you a serious amount of time to read.

So yes, I did talk about what I have done since college and I guarantee that is not what any of them expected me to say; I could see it on there faces. And yes, I did get the question, the first question asked: as a feminist, how did I come to this place of motherhood and why am I staying at home? So it was at that point that I went into my rant on choice and what it should mean, and how and why I have made the choices to become a mother and stay at home. I am always amazed that as I explain my understanding of choice that many have never really viewed choice the same way. But as I started explaining myself and my belief system I could see expressions changing and it led the group into an amazing conversation about choices and the importance of applying this idea of "choice" to all areas of our lives. Numerous people were able to offer their own examples of educated choices they have made in their lives and the difficulty or ease that accompanies these choices. It was at that moment I felt proud to be a part of that community and hopeful that the more we talk about issues such as "choice" that we will redefine their meanings and finally loose the check-list!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Lazy Sunday....

This has been the first Sunday in over a month that has actually felt like what I believe a Sunday should feel like:lazy! Even though I was up at 6 am, it still has been a laid back day with very little fighting among the kids and very little noise in our home. Greg made breakfast and cleaned the kitchen while I listened to Christmas music with the gurl (at her request) and colored. The boy has kept himself moving through the house finding numerous things to do and get into, but he has left his sister alone and that has made it a very pleasant morning.

It is snowing right now. The first real snow of the season; everything is coated in a fine layer of white and it looks beautiful. I want to take a picture to remember it because in another month we will have mounds of snow and roads full of grey slush that will make me (and everyone else in Michigan) despise leaving my house especially with two babies because it takes way too much effort and energy. But right now as we dressed up in our winter gear to go out and catch snowflakes on our tongues I basque in this moment of pleasure and excitement. it is well into the evening and I am still in my flannel pj's that are oh so comfy and I have not yet climbed in the shower because that takes just too much effort. I took a short nap on the couch before lunch and if I could have slept all day I would have. Since I am on my own tonight I made some pizza dough so that we have an easy dinner and the kids can help me pile it with topping-something the gurl always loves to do and what kid doesn't love pizza? Pizza, salad, and maybe some gelatto for dessert if we are not too cold.

Gregory is at the funeral home, his Situe passed away Friday morning and so he won't be home until late this evening since today many family members from out of state will be in to offer their condolences and respect. I am happy for Situe, because she lived a full life (96yr. old almost 97) and now she is no longer in pain, but with that being said, we will miss her dearly. It is sad to see so many others who are mourning. Especially her children because at the end of the day their mother will no longer be a physical presence in their lives. They are very blessed to have had her present for so many of their greatest moments in their lives.

I know that feeling of loss all too well. My father died when I was twelve. It was sudden and very tragic. His death has fills me with an overwhelming sadness at times that he was not present for my college graduation, marriage and the birth of my children, but I take comfort in knowing that his presence is with me and I honestly believe that. I talk to him when times are good and when times are bad. Even though he is not here to hold me, comfort me or give me advice I know that he is still with me. This summer confirmed that to me when I had a beautiful session with a medium who was able to offer me information that I had been wanting and needing to know for years. Today on this lazy day I think of him and know that his presence is here with me and my children as we go about our evening making pizza and listening to Christmas music. Now I must make a fire and read with the kids...which it is a perfect night for and then maybe a bath...a perfect way for ME to end my day!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Identity Crisis

For the last 9-10 months I have been a mess! I have been on a non-stop emotional roller-coaster. I have been that crazy hormonal womyn who cries instantly over the smallest of things; whose patience is as thin as tissue paper and who has had a very hard time finding true joy in any area of her life. I stopped breastfeeding my little one back in early March and I began to wonder if maybe all of this was attributed to that and my hormones being out of whack. But after an $800 blood test (don't get me started on this b.s.!) to test my thyroid, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels all they could tell me was that all of these are normal and exactly where they should be. So my doctor then says maybe I am dealing with depression. Okay...depression, really? AND that I should get a low dose prescription of Prozac. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? This is coming from doctors that know how my family functions: no immunizations, no antibiotics and doing EVERYTHING as naturally as we can. This is coming from doctors who have not done a psychological evaluation, nor even talked to me about what has been going on in my life over the last 8 months such as:
  • being mother of two kids under 4; 24-7
  • constant sleep deprivation
  • taking on responsibilities at my daughter's school
  • realizing that my husband is probably always going to work way too hard and not give himself the rest and downtime that he needs-that we need
  • realizing that I am turning obsessive about my house being clean
  • having a mother, whom I am not particularly close with, move in with me for four months and then up and moves to Oklahoma leaving my daughter with serious separation anxiety
  • a teething son who cut 6 teeth within two month
  • a garden to tend to (which usually isn't stressful, but was at times this year)
  • extremely difficult menstrual cycles that take me days to recover from
  • and the everyday issues of multi-tasking and life i.e. finances, food, computer problems, car problems...the list goes on
So that is not really a lot of stress and yes maybe I am dealing with a little depression, but I am beginning to realize that more than anything else I am struggling with an identity crisis. I am having a hard time with who I have become, because I no longer see myself as what I once was. And in all truth, I am no longer who I once was. I am now a mother; this is my primary identity as hard as that is to accept sometimes, it's true. I had a very interesting conversation with a dear friend this weekend, who had an interesting conversation with a dear friend of hers the day before ( all of us young mothers). The topic: mourning ourselves; our former identities before the identity of mom took over. How do we get back to who were? I don't know if that is possible, because our lives have changed, pretty drastically and this new element is now a part of what defines us.

So the real question for me is how do I meld the two? How do I redefine who I am to incorporate the pre-mom Lacey and the post-mom Lacey? Am I doing it already and just not realizing it and how is it that I only started feeling this way after my second child?

I no longer see myself as this fiery, independent, young feminist and activist who is ready to take on the patriarchal world. But I see myself as this overly tired and overly stressed mother of two who is ready to be done with changing diapers, who wants a little freedom back in her life, not a child always at my feet or on my hip and as someone who on rare occasion has time to actively engage in her feminist and environmentalist agendas. When I was pregnant it wasn't an issue for me because I had experienced pregnancy and birth through the lens of female empowerment and I used that to shape my experiences. Since then I have found many things over the last four years to take interest in and even develop a passion for, but I have reached a place in my life where I am mourning that former self. I miss that freedom and independence that I once cherished dearly.

I think many womyn feel this way once they become mothers, yet it is something that we don't discuss often so we have a hard time articulating what it is that we are feeling. And it is hard to find a confidant in which to have these types of conversation. Are we that scared of admitting that motherhood is not all kisses and giggles? Whether we have chosen to be stay-home moms or moms who work inside and outside of the home, we all deal with the same struggles and balancing acts. We need to talk about it together and we need to offer support to each other. I now have a wonderful community of mothers around me who I am starting to openly discuss such difficult issues with. And I am spending more time writing to discover what it is that I want and need at this moment in my life.

I do feel that since I have taken up writing again I am connecting with myself again, a piece of myself that was lost quite some time ago. Writing has been a way to remind myself of the natural process of evolving; who I was, who I am and who I will become. Writing has created an outlet to let this new chapter of my life (motherhood) foster a new creativity that I have been longing for. It has been almost a year I have been craving a creative outlet and I have made a list of many things that I want to do: take up a new instrument, sew, knit, crochet, write a book, take a dance class, start a blog. Something that is for me; just ME. And I am slowly working on some of these things and teaching myself that it is okay to spend time on me. So as I start to navigate this journey through connecting the old me and the new me, strengthening who I am and who I want to be I ask for your kind ears at times and once in a while I might even need a shoulder to cry on.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Anything is possible

I can't seem to keep much composure these last two days. I am so overjoyed. I can't stop crying..

I hear his name... I cry.
I see others who are crying...I cry.
I watch the speech over and over and...I cry.
I hear an interview on NPR with Rev. Jesse Jackson...I cry.
I think of what a moment in history this is...I cry.
I think of every person of color I know...I cry.
I think of the pride I feel for this country and our democracy...I cry.
I think of the long journey ahead of us and this country...I cry.
I think of the last 8 years and all of the damage that needs to be fixed...I cry.
I watch this video and even this video and I can't stop crying for some reason...I cry & cry & cry.

I now feel that anything is possible and some may call me foolish, but I have a new hope and confidence for the people of this country and the people of the world. I want to be a part of this change. I want my children to have a better future and now I have hope for that. I frequently pray for a future for all children that is unfettered; that they can follow their wildest dreams and conquer them. I believe that is in the realm of possibility. I want my daughter to believe that she can accomplish anything including being President which is on her list of what she wants to be; artist, mommie, President. "I like being the boss, I think I want to be President one day, because then I can REALLY be the boss." Now when I tell her along with her brother that anything is possible, it is not just words coming from my mouth, but from my heart.

It is a new day in America; a new day in our world and I am so honored to be able to be a part of it. I am ready to be a part of this movement and I am ready to extend myself and join those who are already fighting. I have sat lazily on the the sidelines for too long running my mouth at all that is unjust, yet not doing a damn thing about it. This election cycle stirred a change in me. A moving away from the apathy that I have harbored for far too long. And I am ready to exercise my rights and let my voice be heard.

I know I am up for the challenge, are you?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day Jitters

I am so nervous today. Today history will be made and I will be able to tell my children that I was there, I voted in that election. I have been up since 5 a.m. just anticipating tonight and the outcome of the election. I am feeling confident about Obama, but I know that feeling of disappointment all too well; the last two Presidential elections as well as the last two Detroit Mayoral elections. I am nervous because I know that these other elections had a negative effect on my love for political and social issues. They sent me spiraling down a path of complacency. A path that this one amazing politician, Barack Obama, has been able to pull me off of and out of my funk and restore my hope and excitement about such issues.

I know that Obama is not perfect, and I love that he recognizes that and admits that his presidency won't be either, but I truly believe that he has a beautiful energy and a gift to bring this country together and push for a change that this country needs on so many issues: health care, environment, the war and the economy are the top of so many lists. But I am also hoping as a feminist, womyn, mother, partner, environmentalist, urban dweller, gardener ( and the list goes on) that more than these four issues are addressed over the next few years. I am full of hope today! So today I will take my children, walk down to our community house and cast my vote in hopes for a real change in America.

It has been almost 12 hours since I started this entry and I keep coming back to it because I can't sit still. I have baked a loaf of country wheat bread, I have made 3 dozen of banana nut muffins with Marscopone frosting, I have made a batch of the Madras Curry Pumpkin Choc. Chip cookies that I have been dying to get the recipe exactly the way I want it, I have found 2 hours of clean-up to do in the yard, I have colored with my daughter, and I HAVE VOTED!!!

I am guessing this won't be the last of this the night goes on I will most likely find so much more to say!

12:25 a.m. -YES WE CAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THERE IS HOPE!!!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Thoughts on this year's harvest and what the future holds

I just finished up my final week of garden work and preserving food for the winter. I planted my fall crops such as 68 cloves of garlic, about 25 Egyptian onions and I worked about 15 lbs. of llama manure and A LOT of compost into my garden beds. I also insulated my new fig tree and piled my leeks up with leaves to insulate them for the fall and early winter, I have about 40 so that should get me through until spring, or close. I finished shelling all of my garbanzo beans and I should have enough for two batches of hummus. I canned the last of my tomatoes and I got 4 pints of stewed tomatoes, so that bring my tomato total up to 25 pints and 6 quarts of whole tomatoes and 6 quarts and 4 pints of stewed tomatoes. I am hoping that is enough since we use an average of 3 pints a week. I also am thinking about grabbing some more down at the market this Saturday if there are any left and doing another big batch of stewed tomatoes.

We have almost 50 lbs. of pumpkins, I think for the first year that is not bad. I have acquiring recipes for the use of pumpkin, because I hate pumpkin pie and besides it is just too boring. Along with a friend we are trying to figure out an amazing madras curry pumpkin chocolate chip cookie and I think we have it close, I am trying out the recipe today with a couple of adaptations to see how it goes. I also was told by the same amazing womyn about pumpkin kibee so I am trying to find a recipe for that and I found a recipe for a pumpkin cinnamon pasta sauce. I wish I had an ice cream maker because I love pumpkin ice cream, but I guess I will just have to settle for the pumpkin spice gelato at Whole Foods-which is beyond amazing! I am realizing there are many uses for these beautiful fruits. I also started the process of cooking down some of the pumpkins and pureeing it to freeze for use this winter in breads, cookies and whatever else I may experiment with.

As far as my garlic goes, well...I thought about planting more since I use about 3 heads a week and I am already out of hardneck from this last year. But if I were to do that, it would take up a lot more room and I haven't thought that much about what I will be planting for next year so I guess 68 will have to do and fingers crossed that I don't loose any. This last year I harvested 36 heads of hardneck and 14 softneck and I had planted about 40 of each; my softneck didn't do so well this year, I think I didn't fertilize it enough, who knows!

Anyway, I am happy and sad the season has come to a close. I still have to dig out some of my herbs and bring in for winter use, pull the last of my beets and carrots and then I will officially be done. I am happy because now it is time to do projects inside the house and read. I love to sit with something warm to drink and curl up with a good book and there are many on my shelves that are beckoning me. As far as the house goes, there is always something that needs to be done. I will try to get some painting done these next few weeks before it gets too cold-although I think the cold is already here to stay. All of this is almost as exciting, although I will miss plunging my hands into the earth and talking to all of those worms and micro-organisms that help me out.

I was asked recently why I spend so much time and energy on such garden tasks when they "seem" more work than what they are worth. I stood in amazement ( I am sure I had a dropped jaw) and didn't even know where to start. It was during pick-up last week at my daughter's school and I didn't have time to go into my whole philosophy about food, politics, health care, the environment and poverty...because they are all interconnected. So all I could do was say that I was sad to hear so many people have lost their connection with the earth and that there are numerous reasons to know where your food is coming from; if for no other reason health being the primary. I then decided as I drove home that I would send this womyn an email with a link to the brilliant article, "Farmer in Chief" in the NY Times a couple of weeks ago by the well-respected Michael Pollan. I am hoping that she reads this and gets a tiny peek into what is going on with agriculture and farming right now and not just discounts it as biased liberal media given to her by a vegetarian, environmentalist liberal (which is what I am almost positive that she sees me as).

Even if you may think that this is not an important issue I added the link to the article so that you have the opportunity to understand how the food policy needs to be a priority to everyone including our next president, whomever he may be. And also to educate on why our food system in this country needs attention. This article might just help some people understand why so many like myself have made a commitment to producing as much of their own food as they can and what they can't produce they take control over where it comes from.

So as this election comes to a close we will soon have a new President and even though I am hoping for Obama I am also praying that either way, Obama or McCain, that this new President will take on this issue, because we can't afford to continue using insecticides and pesticides, planting GMO crops and eating heavily processed foods; we need change. We need a sustainable future for our country and our mother earth.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Why are Sundays so hard?

A question that we can't seem to answer these days! Sundays in our household are probably much like other households, not as relaxing as they should be. We are too busy with getting ready for the next week and right now just trying to keep the peace between our kids and trying to keep our own sanity in the process. This entry is more for me than you. It is to help me process and vent about the day and try to find some humor in all of this. Also, to remind my self that this is normal and maybe remind or even warn some of you that this is normal life with two wee ones. So this is the insight to our day yesterday and how the last couple of Sundays have been what I like to now call "Story-Simon melt-down Sundays."

We wake up to the gurl stopping down the hall to our room to inform us that she cannot find one of her 20 babies (stuffed-animals) in bed and is very distraught. So Gregory gets up and goes to help her and informs her that it is too early (because it is 6 a.m.) and she needs to get back into bed. That doesn't happen of course and she continues to play in her room. Ten minutes later as I am almost back asleep she then realizes she is hungry and barrels down the hall to share this new information. So I tell her that she can get a trail mix bar from the pantry and eat it in her room, but that she needs to close our door and let us sleep. Now I was finally able to sleep in a little and by 8 a.m. the boy was awake and squawking so I peeling myself out of bed and grabbed the little man and headed downstairs.

The gurl followed us and the three of us congregated in the kitchen for our drinks of choice, juice milk and chai, to figure out breakfast. After that was taken care of we went down to the basement to play and that is when the day started tanking. Everything that the gurl had the boy wanted and this created many issues for everyone. Because if she didn't give him what he wanted he would scream, hit, bite and pull her hair until she got so angry that she would fight back. So after numerous separations and time-outs by 9:30 I decided to take them upstairs for a snack and see if that would dissipate the situation between the two. But it didn't, instead they decided to have a screaming match and continued to scream and yell at each other as loud as they could. At this point all I could do was tune them out because I had been putting up with this for almost two hours, but now Greg was woken up to this insane amount of noise and not so entertained as you might imagine.

So now that we were both up, maybe they will chill out a little, right? No- now the boy is having even more issues since he is in a serious phase of separation anxiety so anytime Gregory and the gurl are around I can't be out of sight and most of the time he will cry, whine, scream and such unless I actually hold him (thank God for my mei tai wrap). Fun times right now!

The rest of the late morning consists of the two children fluxing between having a wonderful time together playing tag and then one of them lashing out at the other over a toy or a phone. So finally at noon I put the boy down for a nap, Greg helped the gurl get lunch and we hoped that she would take her nap at the same time so that we could nap. Wishful thinking! She did go up to her room after lunch, but decided that she was going to play in her bunks, so within that hour we realized that neither of them were going to have the rest time they needed and neither were we.

We got the boy up and told the gurl she has to rest, which meant laying down, and then made our way to the basement to start tackling the laundry for this week. The gurl refused to rest and so once again both kids are messing with each other while we were trying to fold numerous baskets of laundry. So I take the boy upstairs with me to start dinner, Greg keeps the gurl in the basement. I am wondering at this point if it is still too early for a glass of wine.

The whole process of dinner is difficult these days due to the boy wanting to be held through the whole process, which is hard to do when you actually make meals. So I have a few options on most nights. I either hand him over to Greg and listen to him scream most, if not the whole time that I get dinner together or I have had to let him cry it out while I chop veggies. I then put him in my wrap while I do all of the easy parts and set him down again to finish it up, which usually starts the crying and screaming cycle. Now, I guess having Greg cook is another alternative, but I love cooking and for me this is a part of the day that I usually look forward to. I also found another option which is making the dinner during the day and then heating it up at night, since he is fine during the day because it is just the two of us and that is the option that I chose last week and it worked well. But as you have noticed on a day like yesterday that option would not work. And on the evenings that Greg works late, this doesn't seem to be an issue..hmm.....

Back to the Story-Simon melt-down Sunday. So once we (the boy and I) moved upstairs he seemed to be okay most of the time if the other two didn't appear and dinner was the best part of the day, actually a little calmer (maybe it was the red wine, I don't know).

After dinner, hell broke loose again as I took the gurl up for a shower and the boy went hysterical with me out of sight. So he wouldn't hyperventilate -honestly it was that bad, Greg had to bring him upstairs just to be in my presence so that we could get them to bed and hopefully have down time together. Greg took the gurl and finished her bedtime routine and I took the boy to calm him down and get him to bed. While trying to put him in bed the boy went into a screaming fit and after rocking, singing, and such I had to just lay him down. Now, I am not one for doing the "cry it out thing", it pains me deeply, but it had to happen last night. I could not do it for any longer and within 15 minutes (felt like 30) he was asleep. And so was she.

SO...after that all I could do was sit in front of the T.V. and vegetate and try to bring my blood pressure and heart rate down. This is my life right now, weekends are rough. I really am trying to find the pleasure during the weekends, but it has been very difficult. With Greg starting to work on Saturdays, Sunday is the only day that we have as a rest day and it has been anything but that! I am thinking that we might need to make Sundays a day for family adventures and let that be our way to connect as a family unit, because what we are doing at this present time is just not working. And then Monday mornings are here and we feel more exhausted that we did before the weekend even started.

So if we don't call back on the weekends, now you know why!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Just another day....

I know I should be in bed right now, but I don't want to go to bed! I now sound like my 4 year old daughter. Why am I doing this to myself? It is highly unlikely that I will be able to sleep straight through the night and tomorrow I will pay for the fact that I stayed up until 11 to do a lot of nothing. But my mind is wandering right now and I feel like writing so this entry will probably be a little random. But that is my life I think, a little bit of this and a little bit of that....

Once again I am drinking some homemade chai and so I think I will post the recipe for those of you who are interested, it is very yummy...

Tibetan Chai:

5 cups of water
4-5 strong black tea bags
4 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp. of cardamon pods
1/3 to 1/2 cup of fresh ginger peeled and cut into small pieces

Put all of this is a nice BIG pot on the stove and let it come to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Then add:

3-4 cups of milk
1/2 cup of your favorite sweetener, I prefer honey

bring to a simmer again and let simmer for 5 minutes. ENJOY! Keeps for about 5 days covered in the refrigerator.

Okay now onto my favorite moment of the day. Today as the boy was napping the gurl and I had some time to ourselves, which we don't have too much of these days. And so we decided that we were going to do something fun together, just the two of us. We chose to get out the crayons and color and we did this for over an hour and it was so much fun. I haven't colored a picture in SO long and especially in a Strawberry Shortcake coloring book! It was actually very relaxing.

And that moment in time I will cherish and lock away in my memory because we were both so content and happy and I had her full attention. It is these moments that I cherish and that reaffirm the choices that I have made. I can't imagine my life on any other path. I may dream of it at times, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I have this beautiful feisty daughter who is daily teaching me patience and as angry or frustrated as I may get with her at times, I am still so in awe that I birthed her, that she is part of me. And a son who is a little lover-boy and can't get or give enough cuddles and kisses and laughs more that the other three of us combined, which is also teaching me so much. That these little tiny people can teach us so much about ourselves and the world around us if we just open our hearts and let them and I think that is such an amazing thing about being a parent.

Now it is time for bed...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Not enough time....

Now that the sun is showing less of itself I find that I am wearing myself out by trying to do way too much in it's presence. And I try to tell myself that this is because winter is coming and that during those long, cold months that I will be able to rest, but deep down, I know better than that. I cannot sit still, it is impossible. This is not too big of a surprise for those of you who know me well. To just sit for relaxation purposes well, I am not familiar with that concept. I feel as though the world is resting on my shoulders and that if I am not productive with every damn minute of every day then our household might actually fall apart.

I must admit that I was like this way before becoming a mother. In college at one point I was President of a woman's organization, primary organizer of a campus performance of The Vagina Monologues, a full-time student, working part-time and planning a wedding. I am not sharing this to brag about my ability to multi-task, but to show that I have always had a problem with feeling the need to do too much and gauging my happiness on my accomplishments.

So on the agenda for the weekend was: Eastern Market, finish tearing out the garden, clean out the garage and take stuff to Salvation Army, empty the compost pile into the garden, also add Llama manure to the garden, plant the garlic, top garden beds with straw and leaves, insulate the fig tree, move Khalila's kitchen from the garage to the basement, cook down the tomatillos, puree and freeze all of my basil, dill and cilantro, hang the cayenne peppers to dry, shell the dried garbanzo and cannelloni beans, laundry and maybe a little reading in the book that I just started The Mommy Myth by Susan J. Douglas and Merdedith W. Michaels (which I will be posting about very soon) and if really lucky and not pressed for time take a nice bike ride through the neighborhood. Not a lot right?!

Well...I got about half of that done and I am okay with that because I actually took the time to bike ride (thanks Greg) and that evening found pleasure and peace in just sitting. Yes, doing absolutely nothing, not reading, or looking at a magazine, or painting my nails or watching T.V., but just sitting in our wonderful living room by a beautiful fire with Gregory (my husband) and relaxing. The kids were in bed and it was so nice to listen to some comforting music, Catie Curtis, and drink some tea and let myself enjoy that moment. And that moment, along with a post by Naomi has prompted me to remember the importance of feeling and connecting and to really reflect on this concept. And I came to this: why it is so hard for me and the rest of our society to slow down? It seems these days America can't keep up with it's own pace. Working 40 hour weeks just won't do it anymore. And so individuals, couples and families struggle to pay the bills, keep the house up, keep the family healthy and happy and still try to find time to do nothing, for the sake of doing nothing.

This is something Greg tells me often, "Take some time for yourself today, just do nothing." But what does that mean? I am afraid to say that I really don't know. I try to "do nothing" and I can't sit still, it is like I have ants in my pants-seriously! I know this is partially due to who I am and how I have always been. But there is also an outside element, a pressure that I constantly feel as a mother, especially a mother who has chosen to stay home. Because after all, all I do is watch my shows and eat bon-bons, right?

As a womyn, a feminist and a mother I feel an overwhelming pressure that I have to prove myself. And right now part of that is by what I accomplish during my day at home. Whether it be in the garden, chores around the house, writing, or small projects, I feel as though I have to be productive. Now, with that being said, I enjoy most of what I spend my time on, but I am coming to the realization that this pressure is taking a lot out of me emotionally, mentally and physically. I need to get to a place where I can let those outside pressures roll off of my back and then start challenging the system around me. And maybe this book on the idea of the new "momism" and intensive mothering will help me start to dismantle this belief system I have in place and create a new one to aspire to. I hope so because I am beginning to feel that no matter where I am at in my life this pressure will be like a monkey on my back.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Food, Folks and Fun!

No I am not going to talk about a trip to McDonald's (this use to be their slogan back in the day), but I am going to share some of what is on my mind and in my heart about the relationships that I have been blessed with. Throughout my adult life some of the most amazing connections with the people that I love have been made in the kitchen cooking and eating wonderful homemade meals with good wine/drinks and amazing discussions that have brought me to much reflection in my own life.
I have an affinity for good food. But not just eating it; the whole process of food. The planting of the seeds, the process of caring for it, the harvest season and then the art of cooking a glorious meal that satisfies the belly and the soul.
And this summer has been full of beautiful harvests and making connections around the dinner table. I have been determined that even though the gardening season is coming to an end I will continue to make these connections with food and friends because it is these times that have touched me; opening me up to sharing a part of myself and then in return has left me with joy and contentment in my own life. It has reaffirmed in me the joy that comes with sharing your heart and as a parent it has become a priority of mine to show my children this joy through living the example. And what better of a way to do that than over a communal meal that is full of blessings and love by those who have prepared it.
As winter approaches I vow to continue having these moments of joy and laughter surrounded by the food that I love, but more importantly by the family and friends that I love. I am truly blessed to have many people around me to share this affinity with and it has been these relationships that have been teaching me so much about the things I love most: food, folks and fun!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Pursuit of Local Food and The Eastern Market

"If every household in MI started spending just $10 a week of their current grocery budget on locally grown food, we would keep more than $37 million circulating within Michigan's economy each week."

This is a powerful statement that was recently released by the Michigan Department of Agriculture. Especially in today's recent economy where every new day we are confronted with our world's devastating financial crisis. And if you live in MI you are fully aware of how depressed our economy is. You do not have to go far to see a foreclosure sign, or a gas station with the price of fuel hitting over $4 a gallon, or the prices of EVERYTHING at the grocery store being jacked up due to the fuel costs and this is because each food item in an American meal travels an average of 1,500 miles! If you think about all of the fruit and vegetables that you eat and where it comes from you might find yourself asking the sames questions that I did:

  • Does it really taste that good that I am willing to damage the environment for it? NO.

  • If I don't get this in my diet will I somehow be depriving myself of nutrients that I need and can't get from something else? NO.

  • In Michigan, is it possible to eat majority of our produce when it is in season locally and be healthy and satisfied? YES!

The last six years I have devoted any free time in the spring and summer to producing as much food as possible so that I can feed my family healthy, organic produce. I try my best to limit the amount of produce from outside of MI, but that is not always easy. I do buy a couple of items that my children eat faithfully such as avocados, grapes and bananas because raising two vegetarian children under 5 I need numerous healthy options. But, with discipline, I have limited "exotic" vegetables and fruit as a commitment to take care of the environment and our Mother earth.

I have also made it a ritual to go to our local farm markets as much as I possibly can. This not only helps us to be able to eat healthy on a strict budget, but it also supports local farms and our local economy. Anyone who knows me knows my fondness for Detroit's Eastern Market and if you live in a 50 mile radius I strongly urge you to check it out.

Saturday I had the opportunity to go down to Eastern Market by myself which doesn't happen too often. The weather was beautiful; sunny and a little brisk. So much of the time when I go, I have both children and it seems as though I have to rush through the process to get one of them home for a nap or to get the other one to stop yelling about something and threatening a tantrum. But not this time, this time I took the time to really enjoy the experience. This time I was able to take in the fresh air, the smell of fresh cider and popcorn and just watch the hustle and bustle of families, friends and individuals such as myself picking up their produce for the week.

While I am there I always play a little game with myself to see how much I can buy with the amount of money I have to spend. Greg is always laughing at this because almost every week I tally up my list to see how the goods add up. This week was no different. And so I thought I would share my little game with you to hopefully prove the points I have been trying to make. I took $50 for a produce supply for the next 2 weeks and this is what I bought:(HONESTLY)

1 pound of asparagus, 2 huge heads of broccoli, 1 cabbage, 10 orange bell peppers, 3 red bell peppers, 1 pint organic yellow cherry tomatoes, 3 pints of grape tomatoes, 1 head of romaine lettuce, 1 head of red leaf lettuce, 8 limes, 4 lemons, 2 pounds plums, 6 honeycrisp apples, 6 organic beets, 1 dozen of organic eggs, grapes, 1lb. of local honey, 1 large bunch of gladiolas, 1 bunch of dill, 1 bunch of spearmint, 1 pint of organic raspberries and 2 lbs. of dried cranberry beans!!!!!!Everything except the asparagus, limes, lemons, grapes and flowers were from local farms. I think this might have been my best trip yet!

So in a time when we might have to start pinching pennies I urge you wherever you live to buy locally. Support your local farmers, eat healthier food, and in the process become less energy dependent. In SE Michigan, to find local farmers' markets in your area checkout Edible Wow and do a search for Southeast Farmers' Markets. If you live elsewhere, you can find a local farmers' market at the USDA's farmers' market websight.

For more information on these topics here are some of my favorite books:

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

Eat Here: Reclaiming Homegrown Pleasures in a Global Supermarket by Brian Halweil

Slow Food Nation by Carlo Petrini

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Dirt + Produce = Peace

Throughout the end of August and September I was up numerous nights until the wee hours of morning canning tomatoes. During these nights I quickly realized how peaceful of a process it was for me. I would open the windows for the brisk fall air and in the complete silence of the night I would clean the tomatoes, cook the tomatoes and then can the tomatoes. During this long process I did many things: I drank chai, I read, I wrote, I made lists of names for this blog and I just sat in silence. It was during these late nights that I came to a place of serenity, which in all honestly is something I have a very hard time doing.

Tonight I am exhausted as usual, but still, there is a longing to have those nights back. The kids are in bed, Gregory is at an event and won't be home for a few more hours and I am trying to find that place, that state of tranquility. I am beginning to realize that for me, the real place of serenity has to do with a connection to mother earth. Because even though I am sitting here in complete silence there is still an cloud of anxiety hovering over me, reminding me of all that I blew off today to spend time with my children and close friends. And my moment of serenity for the day is not right now, but it was in the middle of the afternoon digging in the dirt to harvest the rest of my potatoes before our first fall frost.

I had gone out to get a few for my lunch and realized that it had been nearly three weeks since my hands had been in the dirt (a record I think) and decided that I didn't care if I was in my best crocks and a beautiful skirt because at that moment all that mattered was making that connection-with the earth, with my self, with the food that provides nourishment for my family. These last few weeks I have been so consumed with politics and the state of our country that I have neglected my garden and I have neglected my need for repose, something that I desperately need on a daily basis. Something that everyone, but particularly every mother needs on a daily basis. I wonder now as the weather is getting colder and my little plot of earth will be put to sleep very soon, what will I find during this cold winter that will put my mind and soul at ease?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fall is finally here...

and I couldn't be more ready for it. After a crazy, massive garden this year all I want to do is sit in my rocker with a cup of homemade chai and read. I finally have the time to set up this blog so I will try to keep it up as much as possible, but with having two little kids and life being...well... life, I can't promise too much.

So "Canning Tomatoes"... an interesting name for a blog. Yes, I do agree. Especially for a 31 year old feminist and mother of two. But canning tomatoes for me is more than just a process to preserve fresh, healthy food. "Canning Tomatoes" is a gateway to talk about so many things that are of great importance to me. The process itself embodies my philosophical, feminist and political ideologies. So while I will talk about canning tomatoes and such, I will also be discussing a lot about my life as a feminist, a stay-home mother, an urban gardener and budding agricultural activist in the city of Detroit, which all are deeply intertwined for me. And besides when my best girlfriend, Ashley, who lives in Vancouver, when asked, stumbles upon the same blog name that I didn't share with anyone, I felt that it was a sign. So thanks Ash, and much love!