Eating clean and green is not easy—don’t let anybody fool you!—but there are things that you can do to simplify. After we picked up our first CSA box, I went straight to work. Cleaning, peeling, and cutting oh my! I made it fun, put on my favourite playlist, and got moral support from my husband. An hour or so later and I had gone from farm to fridge.
run your carrots under cold water. cut off ends. use a vegetable peeler to peel off skin. rinse under cold water once more. cut carrots in half length-wise. then, cut in half width-wise twice. this will give you pieces perfect for snacking, salads, or stir fry.
red leaf lettuce
break off each leaf. rinse thoroughly. cut into bite-sized pieces.
rinse thoroughly. cut into large or bite-sized pieces. (large to saute later or bite-sized for raw kale salad.)
i leave my tomatoes alone until i am ready to eat them. they are too juicy to mess with.
peel and cut into quarters.
garlic is tricky. i peeled mine and cut into halves. however, it smelled up our fridge like no other. i’ve triple-bagged the garlic and it’s alright now. next time, i will perhaps simply remove outer skin but leave inner skin intact until cook time.
rinse thoroughly. cut off ends. cut radishes into slices perfect for snacking or salad topping.
yellow + green squash
rinse thoroughly. cut squash into thick slices. then, cut slices into quarters. my favourite way to prepare squash is in a light olive oil or coconut oil stir fry. i’ve found that these quarters cook through perfectly.
rinse beans thoroughly. cut off ends. then, cut beans in half. makes a good snack or easy to throw into a stir fry or boil.
It was a little bit of a time sink upfront, but it has made snacking and meal prep so much healthier + simpler all week. This will become a new part of my weekend routine. So worth it!
This morning we headed to our local natural foods shop to pick up our first CSA (community-supported agriculture) share of the season. Tomorrow, I’ll share some details about what came in the box, but for now, a few photographs of tonight’s supper. There is seriously nothing like fresh, local, organic produce!
We love our forest friends around here! ♥ This time of year (from August until October) we get lots of visitors passing through our yard to snack under our crab apple tree & on the various plant life around our house. I am so grateful to live in a place that is so full of magic and life.
This week I am proud to present Kristyn Scott—and her good friend & fellow volunteer—Mary Russell. Kristyn & Mary are two of the angel volunteers behind the Howling Woods Farm, a breed-specific animal shelter in New Jersey that rescues and places domestic bred wolves, wolfdog hybrids and northern breeds.
Kristyn with Takoda (one of the permanent Wolfers) & a little visitor
Kristyn has been volunteering for at Howling Woods Farm (HWF) for 9 months and Mary has been a volunteer and close friend to HWF for over 2 years. A big THANK YOU to both ladies for sharing their knowledge with me today!!
Tell us a little bit about Howling Woods Farm (HWF). What is it? Why was it started?
Mike Hodanish, owner of HWF, had wolf dogs as companion pets while living in AZ. When he moved to NJ he did dog rescues. Missing wolf dogs specifically, he purchased Sierra, our resident Alpha female. While looking for a companion for Sierra, his research and contacts made him realize that there was a need here in New Jersey for domestic bred wolf and wolf dog rescue. Mike started the rescue in 2002 and incorporated it in 2005. Howling Woods Farm is registered with and inspected by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) through the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) agency responsible for protecting animal health and welfare.
We currently have 14 rescued wolf dogs and domestic bred wolves on Mike’s 12+ acre farm, some being part of Mike’s permanent pack, while others are in need of adoption. In his mission so far, Mike has rescued over 70 wolf dogs!
How and why did you decide to get involved and volunteer with Howling Woods?
Kristyn: I first met Mike and the Howling Woods pack in June ’11 at the Garden State Festival of Balloons. They had an information table and picture booth for visitors to take pictures with the “stars” of Sorcerer’s Apprentice—four of his pack appeared in the movie with Nicholas Cage. I instantly fell in love with the animals’ disposition. They were sweet, calm, and welcoming… I just didn’t want to leave. I must have stayed at their booth for over an hour, and revisited several times before the day was done. While speaking to Mike and learning about the farm’s rescue mission, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I did more research and applied to be a volunteer that night and have been with HWF ever since.
Mary: I met the wolfers at a Pow Wow and fell in love. I didn’t really care about their stories at the time, I was in heaven! I eventually looked them up on the internet and discovered I could meet them at Howling Woods Farm. Learning about the rescue and the plight of these amazing animals, I asked how I could help. Soon I realized Mike’s integrity. Every penny of donations goes to the rescue; much of his own income does as well. Mike’s pre-placement screening procedures for adoption and his policy of taking an adoptee back if an adoption doesn’t work impressed me. One of the most defining elements of Mike’s rescue that sealed my involvement is his ability to assess his current rescues, their personalities, etc…and do what he can to make sure the rescue is a good fit to ensure the best chance for an adoption. He also has to make the most difficult decision to say no when he can’t safely take on another animal to assure that accepting a new rescue is in the best interest of the animal.
Mary with Chante & Shania
As a volunteer at Howling Woods, what kinds of things do you do?
We are involved in all types of maintenance and clean up at the rescue—currently a few volunteers are helping with the building of a new store as well as new enclosures for the adoptables. We also help with cleaning and maintaining the transport vehicles, organizing and selling merchandise, assisting in feeding the animals, assisting with leash training, etc. We take the wolfers for walks around the property, guide tours on weekends for visitors, as well as provide education at events, school forums and other public venues.
With many of our adoptables, a big responsibility is to simply provide nurturing care and help in socializing. Some of these animals come to us afraid of human contact, or have been harmed and have lost their trust in people. Some may have not been around other animals. Our main goal is to make sure the animals are cared for and loved. Sometimes we just sit in their pens with treats, calm voices, and a brush to make sure they know we’re there for the right reasons.
Oh, and did we forget to mention…poop duty?!
Why is it such a problem when people purchase wolves and wolf hybrids as pets?
The problem begins with the unregulated wolf dog breeders. There are good conscious breeders however some breed the animals only for profit and don’t care who they sell to or what their living situation is. If you live in an efficiency apartment a wolf dog does not make for a great pet, but if you have the money, these breeders will sell. Many people get the wolf dog for a status symbol, they don’t realize the care needed such as, room, a companion animal, special dietary needs, containment. Buyer’s are also not prepared for the shyness and aloofness most wolf dogs display.
Kristyn with Sampson, the gentle giant, eating cheese from her mouth! So sweet!
What advice would you give to someone who is considering purchasing a wolf or wolf hybrid?
People interested in purchasing or adopting should first be cautious of where they are getting the animal from. They also need to know that wolves are ILLEGAL to own in any state! Wolf dogs (or hybrids) are legal in certain states and you need to make sure yours is one of them. Research state and local regulations before getting a wolf dog. Wolf dogs are high energy animals, they need lots of exercise. At least 6 foot high fencing and dig guards are suggested. Realize most wolf dogs prefer to be outdoors. They need a companion animal! Ask lots of questions, research and know where you are getting your animal from. Use social networks and forums for information for more information on owning a wolf dog before rescuing.
Anyone looking to adopt must also consider their diet and food plans as most are on what we call the BARF diet (bones and raw food).
Know that, the higher content the wolf dog, the less protection they will offer. Wolves, in nature, fear humans and just as they wouldn’t come near you in the wild, the chance of a wolf dog guarding the house is slim. They’ll be the first to run and hide.
Last question, how can WE—the Evolution You family—help the Howling Woods Farm?
First and foremost…Help spread the word that wolf dogs are NOT dangerous animals.
Come and visit the farm or any of the mentioned events we have listed on our website. Visiting the farm is by donation and appointment only. To schedule a visit with us or make a donation to the cause, please contact us at howlingwoods.org.
Kristyn with Naiche, an 18-month-old "pup"
Once again a big thank you to Mary & Kristyn for sharing. Howling Woods Farm is an incredible organization and I am so honored to feature this important cause here.
To know the Earth on a first-name basis
You must know the meaning of river stones first.
Find a place that calls to you and there
Lie face down in the grass until you feel
Each plant alive with the mystery of beginnings.
Move in a circle until you discover an insect
Crawling with knowledge in its heart.
Examine a newborn leaf and find a map of a universe
So vast that only Eagles understand.
Observe the journey of an ant and imitate its path
Of persistence in a world of bigger things.
Borrow a cloud and drift high above the Earth,
Looking down at the smallness of your life.
The journey begins on a path made of your old mistakes.
The journey continues when you call the Earth by name.
It’s no secret that I am not a fan of consumerism. I absolutely love the magic of Christmas and the holiday season, but the stress of shopping, spending money, and giving people more crap that they don’t need makes me cringe.
So, instead of participating in the consumer Christmas frenzy, this year I decided to make many of the presents that I’ll be giving away. The first of my homemade Christmas present projects were these Coconut Citrus Body Scrubs. A friend gifted me with a jar & I fell in love. It smells divine and leaves my skin feeling like silk. I had to make some for my friends & family, too!
Below, find instructions on how to make your own. (Gentlemen, you can use this too or it would make an amazing gift for a special lady in your life!)
2 Glass Jars (I used 1/2 pint, wide mouth, Ball mason jars)
Paint Samples in Christmas Colours
16 Ounces Coconut Oil (I used Barleans Organic which is also a Fair Trade product)
1 Organic Lemon
Salt (I used Course Mediterranean Sea Salt)
1. Collect all materials and clear your working space.
2. Scoop 16 ounces of coconut oil into your bowl. Microwave for 45 seconds. (Oil should be warm, but not liquid. The warm texture is much easier to work with.)
3. Grate lemon zest into coconut oil.
4. Pour salt into coconut lemon mixture. Add enough salt so that body scrub will work as an exfoliant. You will have to experiment to get it right. I used about 1/2 – 3/4 of a 17.6 ounce tube of salt.
5. Pour in a dash of grapeseed oil. Just a dash! A little goes a long way.
6. Stir all ingredients together with fork. Ladle scrub into jar with spoon.
7. The next step is decorating the jars. For the jar labels, I used some Christmas-coloured paint samples that I picked up at a local hardware store.
8. Use the hole punch to punch out some Christmas-shapes.
9. Using the jar lid, trace two circles onto the paper. The larger circle will indicate where to cut the paper. The smaller circle will indicate where your text should be.
10. Cut a piece of ribbon a little longer than the length of the jar lid. Wrap ribbon and crazy glue the ribbon to the lid.
11. Use a dot of glue to attach one Christmas tree to the lid. Then, use a Sharpie to label the lid.
There you have it! Your very own homemade Christmas presents. This recipe will make enough scrub for about two jars. If you’re dying for a jar, but this seems like too much work, check out my Etsy shop. I’m selling them! (Unfortunately, there’s not enough time for Christmas deliveries, but these make an excellent gift all year round and I can customize the jar decorations for you. Think birthdays, anniversaries, or a special treat for yourself!) ♥
Over the past several years something has come to my attention, time and again. It appears that instead of making the health and well-being of its citizens its top priority, the United States Government is bending to the will of big corporate lobbyists.
There are two examples that I would like to share with you.
1. The Vanishing Bees
In recent years, honeybees have been rapidly dying and literally vanishing from their hives. This phenomena has come to be known as Colony Collapse Disorder. A commonly used class of pesticides, known as neonicotinoids, is likely to blame.
Neonicotinoids attack the nervous system of insects, killing them off. This makes them excellent pest control—so excellent that many seeds are sold treated with neonicotinoids. The plant grows with the pesticide inside it, allowing it to kill all the insects which attack it.
Two neonicotinoids produced by Bayer, one of the world’s leading pesticide manufacturers, have already been banned in European countries. In Germany, clothianidin was banned when tests on dead bees showed that 99% of those examined had a build-up of clothianidin.
Bayer’s best selling pesticide, imidacloprid, sold under the name Gaucho in France, has been banned as a seed dressing for sunflowers in that country since 1999, after a third of French honeybees died following its widespread use. Five years later it was also banned as a sweetcorn treatment in France. A few months ago, the company’s application for clothianidin was rejected by French authorities.
Meanwhile, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has knowingly and repeatedly approved this bee-killing pesticide. I highly recommend the documentary, The Vanishing Bees, for more on this topic.
While I have not found conclusive evidence that this pesticide is harmful to human beings, this is a pesticide that destroys the nervous system of living things. I do not want it in my body! Why does the United States government continue to approve the use of this poison? Political pressure, corruption, backwards politics.
2. The Debate Over Parabens
There is a roaring debate over food and cosmetic preservatives called parabens. According to livestrong.com, parabens are a fungicide, which can preserve the life of a product. The HSDB states that methylparaben is quickly absorbed through the skin and the intestinal tract (when used as a food preservative). There is a great deal of controversy surrounding its use, with many reports of dangerous side effects.
One type of paraben, methylparaben, in particular has been linked to breast cancer, skin damage, eye damage, and male fertility issues.
The EPA in their report “Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products in the Environment: Agents of Subtle Change?” reported that the chemical preservatives called parabens—methyl, propyl, butyl and ethyl (alkyl-p-hydroxybenzoates)—displayed estrogenic activity in several tests. This means that these chemicals mimic your body´s own hormones and can have endocrine-disrupting action when they are rubbed into your body or washed down the drain into your drinking water. These disruptors interfere with your body´s endocrine system: your hypothalamus, your ovaries, your thyroid—virtually every system in your body.
Parabens are estrogen mimickers. They can bind to the cellular estrogen receptor. They also increase the expression of many genes that are usually regulated by estradiol and cause human breast tumor cells to grow and proliferate in vitro.
Once again, there are conflicting opinions in the medical community about the potential risks associated with parabens; however there is research that shows that these things are potentially harmful and toxic. I do not want these things in my body! Why is the government doing little to inform the public about these dangers?
With all of this being said, this is not a political post. While I may strongly disagree with the actions of the government in these two instances, I can appreciate the fact that many people do not want the government to interfere in their lives or dictate what they can/can not eat, use, support, etc.
Rather than making a political argument, I am sharing this information to encourage you to educate yourself and make the right decisions for your own well-being. I grew up in a culture that told me that the government was protecting me; that government bodies like the EPA and the FDA are in place to protect me and look out for my well-being. However, I now know that this is simply not the truth. These government bodies bend to the wills of big corporations. Period.
The only way to ensure my well-being is to educate myself about every choice that I make—everything that I put into and onto my body.
I do not live a radically alternative lifestyle. I do not eat a 100% organic diet or use 100% organic products. However, I am slowly moving in that direction. Recently, I have been paying more careful attention to everything that I consume and apply to my body. I am more conscious of the companies that I support and more mindful of where things come from, how they are made, and so on.
I believe in supporting local, sustainable and environmentally-friendly production practices. These things are very important to me. I am not advocating for radical or instant change. I am not suggesting that you go into your bathroom/kitchen and throw out every non-organic product that you come across. However, I do encourage you to keep these things in mind the next time that you go to the store.
The examples that I have listed above are just two out of hundreds that I have learned about in recent years. There are always multiple sides to every story. I am presenting you with some facts and sharing my own opinions.
Sadly, we live in a time and a place where sometimes, the people who should have our health in mind, are more focused on turning a profit or being re-elected than keeping people healthy. However, this is not an excuse for us to suffer. It is our responsibility to educate, protect and nourish ourselves.
A few days ago, my mom forwarded me an email with the subject line: Christmas 2011 — Birth of a New Tradition. The email suggested that this year we should buy local and encourage American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. What a great idea! The email went on to say that when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways that we couldn’t imagine.
Whether you live in the United States or you live anywhere else in the world, I think that this is an idea that we can all get on board with! The email had a bunch of great gift ideas that will make your loved ones smile and support local businesses. Here are some of the suggestions:
A gift certificate to the local hair salon or barber
A gym membership
A car detailing
A driveway sealing
A summer of lawn mowing
A winter of driveway plowing
A game at the local golf course
Dinner at an owner-run restaurant
Breakfast at the local breakfast joint
An oil change
A month of housekeeping from a local cleaning lady
A computer tune-up
Local crafts—scarves, jewelry, pottery, woodwork
The email also suggested planning your holiday outings at local, owner-operated restaurants and leaving your servers a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre? Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.
I really love these ideas! I’ve got a few of my own for you:
Cookies or cupcakes from your local bakery
A massage at a nearby spa
A gift certificate to the local dog groomer for your pet-loving friends
A framed photograph with a frame from a local framing shop
Another suggestion that I have is to use Etsy. It’s my favourite gift-buying resource. It even has a new feature—Etsy Local—that allows you to search for local products made by artisans in your hometown!
Typically, I don’t encourage my readers to steal my posts, but this time I’m asking you to steal away! Forward this post to everyone on your mailing list, share it on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Throw a post up on Craigslist in the ‘Rants and Raves’ section for your city or send it to the editor of your local newspaper!
Let’s make this holiday season a revolution of caring about each other & supporting our local businesspeople!
If you have ideas for other ways to support local business this holiday season, let us know in the comments.
At the end of the day, you have to be able to lay your head down on the pillow and feel good about the things you’ve said, the things you’ve done, and the person that you are.
Life is all about making choices. All day, every day, we are faced with decisions. Should I hit the snooze button or go for a walk? What will I eat for breakfast? Should I participate in the office drama or keep my head down? Will I use my free-time to work on my novel or watch television? And on and on it goes, every moment is a new opportunity to make a choice.
One of the most important choices that we have to make is what we will stand for and what we will stand against. This is tricky because sometimes standing for or against anything can be difficult and even controversial. However, it’s really important that we do it anyway. For a long time, I was afraid to speak out on issues that I felt strongly about. I was afraid of being judged, misunderstood, or rejected. But there came a time in my life when I decided that it was important to put my fears aside and speak my truth.
Some of the issues that I feel strongly about are mental illness; conservation; gay marriage; and animal rights. These are examples of topics that can be controversial. I have had disagreements on these issues. And yes, it can be uncomfortable. But it’s incredibly important, too.
I don’t like to argue. I avoid talking politics. But when the time is right, I always say what is in my heart. Sometimes I am afraid. Sometimes my voice shakes. But I know that at the end of the day, I have to lay my head down on the pillow and feel good about me.
Today I encourage you to think long and hard about the issues that matter to you. Know where you stand. When the time comes, don’t be afraid to speak your truth.
A friend made this post on Tumblr a couple of weeks ago. It’s been tugging at my heartstrings ever since.
If you read a recent front page story of the San Francisco Chronicle, you would have read about a female humpback whale who had become entangled in a spider web of crab traps and lines. She was weighted down by hundreds of pounds of traps that caused her to struggle to stay afloat. She also had hundreds of yards of line rope wrapped around her body, her tail, her torso, a line tugging in her mouth. A fisherman spotted her just east of the Farallon Islands (outside the Golden Gate) and radioed an environmental group for help. Within a few hours, the rescue team arrived and determined that she was so bad off, the only way to save her was to dive in and untangle her. They worked for hours with curved knives and eventually freed her. When she was free, the divers say she swam in what seemed like joyous circles. She then came back to each and every diver, one at a time, and nudged them, pushed them gently around as she was thanking them. Some said it was the most incredibly beautiful experience of their lives. The guy who cut the rope out of her mouth said her eyes were following him the whole time, and he will never be the same.
Support sustainable, ethical fishing practices! Awareness is critical. When you shop, inquire about sources. Write to the companies that you purchase from. Every single voice matters.