Lehigh Valley Style Magazine Has a New Columnist (and She’s Vegan)

I am honored to share my new bi-monthly column for Lehigh Valley Style magazine, Fresh Perspectives with Jaime K.

JaimeK LV Style magazine

So much to say about the emotions of seeing this in print, but for now I’ll tell you: It’s the March issue and it’s on news stands now! Learn about my journey to become vegan and years later, to embrace the Lehigh Valley as my home for creative communities, young entrepreneurship, and vegan food (we keep getting luckier!). Going forward, the column will highlight people and businesses doing work I admire, be it art & design, mindful cooking, or making positive community and societal impacts.

Fresh Perspectives is meant to chronicle my love of the Lehigh Valley, seeking beauty in everything, living with true mindfulness to be kind in a world that makes it easy to post an Internet meme about kindness while forgetting to show it in our actions.

It’s about simple and unintimidating recipes, and inclusiveness, and honoring where we come from while striving to be better.” (pg. 100)

I hope you’ll love it, and if you have suggestions for future columns I’d love to connect and learn about them. Reach me at SavetheKales@gmail.com.

xo Jaime K

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”

― Ernest Hemingway

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Vegans & Valentine’s Day, Like Peas and Carrots (GET IT!?)

One of the most comforting things about being in the vegan community is that, when you’re lucky, it really is a community. Sure, we have the occasional naysayer, the “mean angry neighbor” type, yelling loudly that everyone is doing everything wrong, but most of us know that guy has just been through some hard things, so we embrace him with a knowing nod and continue to live in a way that expresses the infinite benefits of being vegan – especially the part of showing love.

JaimeKSaveTheKales-V-day

When I was asked to spill my Valentine’s Day plans as part of Meet the Shannons’ annual “Vegans on Valentine’s Day” post,  oooh girl (in RuPaul voice), I was thrilled. Besides the fact that this year, for me, is a week-long romantic/celebratory extravaganza, and aside from having an admiration-crush on The Shannons (individually and collectively), this round-up includes vegan ladies who are Compassion Powerhouses, woman I admire and respect so much, and to be included among them is humbling and, frankly, made me squeal.

Pop on over to the Vegans on Valentine’s Day post, and get romantic holiday plans from:

And because we’re sharing the love, allow me a moment to gush about my oodles of respect for Annie Shannon. She is someone I had been following online forever, and when I finally got to meet her and husband Dan at an event in New Jersey (hosted by Montclair Vegans) a year or two ago, I was nervous and excited.

It can be hard to remember that the people you look up to are REAL people. Not only do they live and breathe among us, they are humble and smart and witty, and work damn hard to make their personal dreams happen. True activists at heart, Annie and Dan found their way into homes across the world with The Betty Crocker Project, in which they veganized nearly every recipe in the classic Betty Crocker Cookbook.

meettheshannonsbooksigning

Me, Dianne of VeggieGirl.com, Dan and Annie Shannon at their book signing at Watchung Booksellers in NJ

I am forever and always inspired by people who feel compelled to do work that helps others, human or animal, a selfless drive to make the world a little better, and you can’t help but admire someone even more for when their intentions are pure.  Annie is hilarious and wonderful, and I saved and still revisit a conversation we had about plowing past negative online commenters and doing the hard work.

Love love love, it’s in the air.

Reviews and follow-up posts will be made about each of my plans. How lucky that so many things are happening in and around the Lehigh Valley! Mwah. xo

 

DIY Jewelry Holder Display Using an Old Frame

This is the perfect snow day craft because it’s useful, beautiful, only cost $3.00 (THREE DOLLARS!) and took fifteen minutes to create.

DIY Jewelry Holder from a frame

After seeing some super simple DIY jewelry holder displays on Pinterest (which you can make out of just about anything you can put a nail into), I remembered I had this old wooden frame from some thrift art. Years ago, I painted it dark pink and then put it away in the basement when we moved last year. It would be the perfect thing to help me organize my necklaces and earrings, and surprise! bonus: it looks gorgeous, too.

Here’s how I made it for only $3:

Supplies

  • wooden frame, already painted, 2′ 6″ wide and 2′ tall, about 1/2 inch thick
  • measuring tape
  • pencil
  • power drill with the smallest drill bit
  • twisting screw hooks / a pack of 36 Utility Hooks or “cup hooks” by Arrow in 7/8″

Because I had everything else, I only bought the hooks for $3.00 at Target.

The frame seemed large at first, but once I finished, I realized one of my longer necklaces just fit inside perfectly, so make sure your frame is at least two feet tall if you have long jewelry!

You can find wooden frames in thrift stores for super-cheap, and a small container of paint in a craft store for about $0.69, so even if you have to seek out those supplies, you should be able to do this for under $5.00.

Or, ditch the frame altogether and try one of these great ideas: slice of tree + coat hooks | thin tree branches | clothes hanger + hooks | antique garden rake | thick tree branch + hooks 

diy jewelry holder from wooden frame

Step 1: I measured 1-inch increments across the back of the frame, making small pencil marks. One inch increments was enough to keep my jewelry separated and, because the frame is large, allowed me to fit 27 hooks.

Step 2: I used a power drill to make make small holes in the frame. You don’t have to drill very deep, just enough to let the hooks catch so you can twist them into the wood.

*Note: Make sure you drill in the middle of the wood, not too close to the edge, or the wood will split when you screw in your hooks.

Step 3: Twist in hooks, making sure the open ends face the front side of the frame (to hang your necklaces over them).

That’s all!

DIY jewelry holder from a frame

It’s OK if the hooks are a spaced a little uneven. Once you have your jewelry on, you won’t notice if something is off by a centimeter. Arrange your jewelry so it looks visually pretty and prevents the frame from being too heavy on one side.

(Obviously, this only works for earrings that don’t have post backs.)

This helps me to see what I have and makes it easier to put together an outfit, keeps everything untangled, and ensures I don’t spend money on a piece very similar to one I already have. Plus, I think it looks pretty.

Not bad for three dollars and fifteen minutes!

Thoughtful (Last-Minute) Gifts in the Lehigh Valley and Bethlehem

In a place that bursts with artistic creativity, small boutique retail shops and is literally, hello!, “The Christmas City” (check out the locally-viral Buzzfeed post) with seasonal holiday pop-up markets, I can’t begin to write a comprehensive gift guide. There’s too much. A good problem, no?

But if you’re looking for last-minute gift ideas that are special and unique to Bethlehem/The Lehigh Valley area while supporting small businesses, these are the gifts and shops that immediately come to my mind.

Share some of your favorites in the comments!

giftguidecollage

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Best Budget-friendly Holiday and Local: Moravian Star Ornament and/or Pickle Ornament from Moravian Book Shop

moravian ornaments

A Moravian star is classic Bethlehem tradition in a small, affordable package. You can learn about the significance of the Moravian Star and then choose a beauty from a variety of sizes, materials, and price points. From this site,

The stars were used as craft projects to help demonstrate geometry lessons to young boys attending Moravian school. The stars were quickly adopted by the Moravian Church as a symbol of the birth of Jesus and represented the star of Bethlehem.

A small elegant, handmade glass ornament will set you back about $20 (give or take), but you may also find them in paper, plastic, and sizes that could fit in your palm to elegant lighting fixtures priced in the hundreds.

As for the pickle ornament(!), this is a little more kitsch but just as traditional. The German tradition says that parents hung a pickle in the Christmas tree after all the other ornaments were in place. In the morning, the first child to see the pickle on the tree would get an extra gift from St. Nicholas.  This is one of my favorite go-to gifts when you want to give a little something to someone who lives out of the area, as a cute reminder that someone in Bethlehem loves them.

Moravian Book and Gift Shop: website | facebook

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Best Shop for Unique Gifts (Upscale): Artfully Elegant

artfully elegant

If you’re not quite sure what to get someone but want a very special gift and you have a little more wiggle-room in your budget, this is the store to browse. They specialize in jewelry that is unique, interesting and handmade, and one-of-a-kind artwork from photography to ceramics. Always classy but with a chic, bohemian twist, you can’t go wrong with anything from this shop. Take a peek at their Pinterest page.

Artfully Elegant: website | pinterest | facebook

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Best Shop For Unique Gifts (Budget-Friendly): Mercantile Home

merchaus collage

Nearly everything in MercHaus in handmade in-haus. *wink* This is where you can find my absolute favorite scented candles, neon-colored ceramic animals, fabric products like scarves, bags, aprons, and about a trillion other things you never knew you loved until you walked in. This store is a treasure of the Lehigh Valley (located about 10 minutes outside Bethlehem in beloved Easton), and it’s all the better that owners Ken and Ron are the sweetest peas and you’ll leave with hugs and perfect gifts in tow. Is it weird to want to live in a store?

Mercantile Home:  website| twitter| facebook 

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Best for Someone Who Loves His/Her iPhone: Homebase Skateshop Bethlehem iPhone Cases

homebase610division

Listen, put a picture of the steel mills on anything and you’ve found a way to my heart. But Homebase does it again by turning their popular 610 Division design into cases for iPhones 4 and 5. Brilliant. BRILLIANT.

In case you haven’t seen it, Homebase Skateshop sells t-shirts with one of the greatest outcomes of graphic design history: a mash-up of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures album cover art, and the Bethlehem Steel mills. They’ve turned that genius design into a portable and practical phone cover, and if you love Bethlehem as much as I do, you’ll get one immediately. Quantities limited.

Homebase Skateshop: website | twitter | facebook 

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Best Non-Wine Gifts: Seasons Olive Oil and Vinegar Taproom

seasonsoilandvinegar

If you’re looking for the sophistication (and, um, practicality) of a bottle of wine but want something a little more out-of-the-box, consider a bottle of one of the many flavored oils or vinegars from Seasons. If oil and vinegar don’t sound special, get yourself to this shop, start at one end, and sample everything in the place. They really let you do this!

For more details, take a peek at this article I wrote about Seasons a few years ago.  A full bottle will set you back an average of $12-15, but can go higher as you look to truffle oils and such.

Seasons Olive Oil and Vinegar Taproom: website | facebook 

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Best Coffee Gifts: Wise Bean Cafe Gift Coins

wisebeancafe

My favorite local coffee shop, and longest running indie coffee shop in Bethlehem’s Northside, has unique ceramic gift coins that function like gift cards – but they’re cuter! They come in a tiny mesh bag, perfect for gifting, and while you’re at it pick up a pound or two of one of the Bean’s excellent coffees to brew at home.

The Wise Bean: website | facebook

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Best Gifts for Babies, Kids, New Parents: Ju-ju Monkey

jujumonkey collage

What began as a handmade cloth diaper company is now a full brick-and-mortar retail space in Allentown. Here you can find anything a baby or toddler would need or want, and best of all, products are eco-friendly! Clothes, toys, personal care products, and more can be found at the store. And if you want to give an experience, check out the classes offered by Ju-ju Monkey, from Baby Sign Language to Mommy and Baby Yoga.

Ju-ju Monkey: website | twitter | facebook

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Best “Little Something”: Jolene’s Jar Pickled Foods

jolenesjar collage

Made in small batches in Easton, PA and sold at locations around the Valley (including The Wise Bean, see above), these jars of pickled goodies would be perfect when you want to give a little token of appreciation to someone and that candy cane taped to a card just won’t do. Who doesn’t like pickles!? With flavors like Pickled Za’atar Cauliflower and Spicy Bloody Mary Garnish, stock up on a few for yourself, too. Bonus: toss your own veggies in the leftover brine after you’ve devoured the jar. The gift that keeps giving! Buy them at these locations.

Jolene’s Jar: website | where to buy | facebook

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And if you’re looking for a vegan + organic Christmas dinner but want someone else to do all the work, call on Chef Wendy! She’s taking orders for Christmas dinner through this Saturday, Dec. 21st.

balasiaxmasdinner

Chef Wendy of Balasia/The Honey Underground: facebook

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Note: I debated writing this list because, as mentioned at the top, there are so many wonderful businesses in the Lehigh Valley and I’d never want anyone to feel snubbed! A huge part of my work is advocating community involvement and small business support.  

I started to feel like I was four years old again, in bed and anxious to say goodnight to my stuffed platypus, because then I’d have to get out of bed and kiss + say goodnight to every other stuffed animal (there were a LOT) so none would feel left out.  Then you grow up and become an adult with mild OCD!

Lists can sometimes feel like that. 

My column in Lehigh Valley Style (coming in 2014!) will include not only recipes, but a deeper exploration of the people and places that create the vibrancy + community of the Valley.  Love and respect to small businesses and their owners, working hard every day to make me proud to call this place my home. xo

Thankfulness, the Blues, and Links I Love

I’ve lived in this space about ten months now, but continue nesting. (I love and hate the word “nesting”.)  Two weeks ago a friend came over and we painted the dining room this vibrant blue, the sort of color that makes you feel something, makes everything else look better and more dignified somehow. Chubby dog wagged his tail against the still-wet wall and looked like a rebellious teen for an afternoon.

blue walls

The living room needs to be painted as well, but last weekend we brought the holiday decorations out of the basement and began to set up the tree. I absolutely LOVE the ambience of a home decorated with white lights at Christmas. Everything feels special – playing board games with friends, catching up after a long day, indulging in a Drag Race marathon, all of it. Better with lights.

It’s our first Christmas in this home and I feel like we’ve always been here.

christmas in bethlehem

Thanksgiving (both of them – one with my parents, one with Ryan’s) ended the way most do: ate to the point of gluttony, shared stories with family, took a long, if accidental, nap on the sofa. I am always so humbled by the efforts made to ensure there is vegan food at the table (and how they say, “it’s so easy! you just get vegan butter and everything is the same!”). I never expect anyone to go out of their way for me in any situation, but when effort and foresight is put into it, it means the world. That’s thoughtfulness.

While the days ended much the same, Thanksgiving began with waking up early to go to a special benefit bootcamp for a woman with cancer. She’s the mother of one of the athletes Barry trains at his academy where I take fitness bootcamps three times a week.

We were planking and push-upping and squatting (“think of all the pie!”) and she was right there with us, doing what she could, and it was the perfect way to start a day meant for a focus on gratitude. Perspective + clarity don’t always come at 9am with sweat running down your face. They did that day.

thanksgiving2013bootcamp

Posted to the Save the Kales! facebook page:

 For fluffy dogs/cats & fluffy slippers, for families we are born into and families we create, for second (third & fourth) chances, for books & avocados & real love & connecting to others who leave the world a bit better than they found it – thank you. ❤

On to things to read around the web…

LINKS I LOVE

Strong Really Isn’t the New Sexy/Skinny”  Perhaps the best piece I’ve read on fitness replacing being skinny as a body ideal. (thanks Olivia!) Full of gems like: Strong, sexy, skinny. These things can exist together in every combination, or completely independently from one another. There is no one right answer, and we don’t have to disparage one body type to celebrate another. When we recognize and internalize that, we will be free.”

Best twitter account discovery: Faces in Things

surprised coffee

Vegan recipes: cream of mushroom soup / the best damn vegan biscuits 

Lisa Congdon reminds us to mind our own business

“It’s just that it drives me completely insane if I can’t see what you’re reading.” Confessions of a public book snoop.

The Vegan Police are everywhere and nowhere. “My fear of the vegan police arises from my own criticisms of myself, even though I fully acknowledge that I am an imperfect vegan and will most certainly continue to make mistakes on occasion.”

Little kids wearing glasses is one of my favorite things ever. So is what these parents did for their newly bespectacled boy.

Oh, hello handsome. Bearded Men in Knitted Things (in the words of my boyfriend, “So, basically you’re looking at porn.”)

Books I’m Reading: This Book Will Save Your Life / 168 Hours / Food Over Medicine

“Why does everyone in America pretend to be blind? They practice not seeing.They get into the car and they call someone on the cell phone. They are afraid to be alone but they don’t see the people around them.”

  – A. M. Homes, This Book Will Save Your Life

Easy Gluten-Free Vegan Almond Cookies (in less than fifteen minutes!)

Let’s say you are hosting an impromptu get-together and, being the caring and attentive host/hostess you are, you need to put out a snack, and that half bag of corn chips ain’t going to cut it.

rickihelleralmondcookies May I suggest these cookies? Because they have great texture, flavor, and are just about everyone-friendly (no soy, gluten, dairy) and the best part… start to finish – out of the ovenyou can have them in fifteen minutes!

This genius recipe comes from one of the most creative ladies in the cooking land, Ricki Heller, and can be found in her brand new comprehensive guide to goodies, Naturally Sweet and Gluten-Free: Allergy Friendly Vegan Desserts.

Ricki is the mastermind behind so many of my favorite recipes (seriously, something cool pops up on Pinterest and lo! it’s from Ricki), so this book with 100 recipes and full color photographs is simply scrumptious.

I’d recommend anyone have a good allergy-friendly cookbook in their library to prevent panic in this day when there’s always someone with some sort of food intolerance, because of biology or ethics. And you can’t go wrong with desserts. Therefore, buy the book.

naturallysweetandglutenfree

I need to take a minute to also mention Ricki’s invaluable role, not just as a recipe developer and cooking teacher, but as a genuinely good human being. She’s an animal lover (she’s vegan after all), LOVES dogs and you’ll see “insight” from her pups show up in her work, and she’s just a damn fine human being. Kindness to the core. I love her work, and then I love her work even more because it’s a quality product put out by a quality person. Let’s support nice people. Especially when they are crazy-talented.

On to the recipe!

almond cookie dough

Easiest Almond Cookies by Ricki Heller

  • 2 cups raw, skin-on almonds
  • 1/4 cup finely ground flax seed (from 2 TBSP whole seed)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 2 TBSP sunflower (or light-tasting) oil
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp pure almond extract
  • 1 TBSP water, if necessary*

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper, or spray with cooking spray.

In a food processor, blend almonds, flax, baking soda and salt until you have a very fine meal (like cornmeal consistency), with no large almond pieces.

Add the agave, oil, and extracts, and process again until the mixture holds together and just leaves the side of the bowl. *If it’s too dry, add the water and process again.

Use a Tablespoon to measure out small scoops, then roll into balls with your hands and place them about two inches apart on the cookie sheets. Wet your palms, and press down to flatten to about 1/4 inch thick.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway, until the edges are just barely golden brown. Allow to cool completely before removing from the cookie sheets.

ricki heller almond cookies

rickihelleralmondcookies

Links:

Ricki’s Facebook Page/Twitter

RickiHeller.com (soooo many recipes!)

Link to BUY the new book!

NEPA BlogCon: Pennsylvania’s Best Ever Blog Conference

It’s still dark on this Saturday morning, and I slipped out of bed, through the tunnel of limbs and paws and comforter, to get ready to head to Wilkes-Barre for the second annual NEPA BlogCon (Northeast Pennsylvania Blog Conference)!

I’ll be presenting along with Christina of It’s a Keeper as part of the marketing track. A week ago we called to chat on the phone about our presentation and talked for over two hours about blogging, writing, online perceptions, what we wish we’d known in the beginning, etc. It was a riot and I CAN’T WAIT for this conference to start!

Bonus! All proceeds benefit Blue Ridge Farms, a no-kill shelter/refuge in Dallas, PA.

People will be live tweeting and tweet-chatting and all sorts of things all day at #NEPABlogCon if you can’t make it but want to internet stalk us in real time!

Coming soon… 

A Vegfest re-cap (with video!), my experience at the Emmy Awards, my solo retreat into the woods, death & grief and how we heal, a somewhat cliché list of favorite Fall things, and saying GOODBYE FOREVER to my 20’s.

Until then, here is a photo of a sweet tiny pig:

jaimek and pig

 

“So long as you write it away regularly nothing can really hurt you.” 
― Shirley Jackson

xo Jaime K