“WE DON’T NEED TO ASK PERMISSION”: Jaime K on the Tranquility du Jour Podcast

“Anybody who’s doing any sort of work they’re passionate about can relate to this – when you start something, you really have no idea where it can go or what it can be, but something in you just feels compelled to do it.” – Jaime K

Click HERE to listen to the podcast

It was a joy and an honor to have been interviewed for Kimberly Wilson’s Tranquility du Jour podcast, a podcast I discovered two years ago and have enjoyed as a listener. I met Kimberly unexpectedly (hear the story!) last year, and was enchanted with her. She exudes a compassionate confidence while looking like an eccentrically feminine yogini meets a vintage french film star.

She's just yarn-bombing, as one does.

She’s just yarn-bombing, as one does.

Her work includes a weekly podcast, an adorable and always-updated blog, several books and journals, a line of feminine eco-friendly clothing, and hosting retreats across the world. She is livin’ the dream. And she has a pug who is, thankfully, photographed often.

Le Pug. Look at that face. Can you even? No. You can't.

Le Pug. Look at that face. Can you even? No. You can’t.

Some things I talked about in the podcast:

You can also subscribe to Tranquility du Jour on iTunes. I’m on episode #316, which means there are 315 other wonderfully inspiring interviews to catch up on. Get started.

Hugs + lipsticked kisses to Kimberly for the lovely chat.

xo, Jaime K

 

 

 

 

FELL DOWN + BROKE HER CROWN: Living with a Concussion

One month ago (wow, it’s been that long), I went to the doctor to discuss sciatica pain and some annoying neck/shoulder tension in the hopes of getting a referral for some physical therapy. I was given four shots in my back + shoulder to relieve some of the pain immediately.  I was asked to sit on a stool with wheels, no back and no arms, and after the shots the doctors left the room and – woopsies!- I had a reaction, passed out, and hit my head on the floor. I was told they only knew I passed out because they heard the sound it made when I fell. Cringe-worthy, right?

All this to say, I’ve been living with a concussion for the last four weeks and have spent as little time on the internet as I’ve probably ever spent since since my Mom first got AOL dial-up when I was thirteen. (Backlit screens and florescent lights are still the worst symptom offenders.)

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 10.02.14 AM

Concussion Chic. Thankfully I got this summer hat and a bunch of sunglasses a week before this happened. Now I can grocery shop with protection + unwashed hair, but give the illusion of being pulled together. Smoke and mirrors!

The doctor said: “Don’t use the computer. Don’t text or be on the phone very much. Don’t watch TV or movies. And don’t read. (!!!) They cause eye strain.” I’m not an overly-gadgety person, but it was a wake-up call to see how much I rely on each of these activities throughout the course of a day.

Ya’ll know I love my books… So, no reading? NO READING! I became this guy from the most heart-wrenching of all Twilight Zone episodes, Time Enough At Last:

twilight zone time enough at last

 

The first week was a doozy, physically and, eventually, emotionally and mentally. All that time to myself without aid of my usual distractions was enlightening and terrifying. I felt free. I felt trapped. I felt unconstrained of obligations and sank into relaxation. I felt agitated that I had to cancel my work and responsibilities and worried everything would fall apart and everyone would resent me. I questioned the meaning of life a hundred times a day. Occasionally I found it while watching the rain from my front porch.

You worry that people are going to be angry because you have to miss deadlines, postpone interviews, not show up. You worry your absence will make everything else come to a screeching halt and the guilt of that is oppressive and lodges heavy in your guts. Then, when life goes on and the rest of the world continues to work and exist without you, you are left with the feeling that you don’t actually matter that much. A relief, a poison, in equal doses.

I’ve been dealing with the guilt of canceling appointments and having to bail out of obligations, projects and work. Getting rest is the only thing that will help, and while that’s how I’ve been spending most of my time, I’ve been able to take advantage of a few social events that have maintained my sanity. When you get most energized by spending time connecting to people in person, isolation is loneliness emphasized.

Fatigue sets in after only two or three hours, but I have been trying to find the silver lining, tarnished as it has been some days, and am grateful for:

Stumbling across one of my favorite book sales and getting 30+ titles (for about $10 bucks and all money went to charity!), including some truly exceptional gems that still make me feel smugly proud of myself, like: titles by Sylvia Plath, Richard Brautigan and Lorrie Moore I didn’t previously own; a first edition of Nicole Krauss’ The History of Love, one of my favorite books ever ever ever;  an extravaganza of queer authors like Jeanette Winterson, Sarah Waters and Oscar Wilde; an astrology book from the 1960’s with dreamy illustrations.  I was able to read again after the first week, thank goodness.

Get lost in the stars.

Get lost in the stars.

 

Mornings spent on my cozy front porch, working through The Artists Way, getting uncomfortable and vulnerable and angry and then inspired, focused, driven. Salads for breakfast. Tiny pieces of paper tucked into my Chinese takeout that make me feel hopeful.

Avocados on everything, morning pages, sunshine.

Avocados on everything, morning pages, sunshine.

A Mother’s Day surprise from Chubby and Pierogi (my dog and cat) left on the kitchen table, discovered when I woke up to make coffee. I’ve been told they must have stolen the car with Pierogi at the wheel, Chubby at the gas + brakes (his arms are too short to operate the wheel) and took themselves shopping. What sweet angels.

Typewriter necklace and a handwritten (paw-written) card from the cat and dog. They are so talented!

Typewriter necklace and a handwritten (paw-written) card from the cat and dog. They are so talented!

I went to the Spiritual + Holistic Expo which was like a warehouse full of healers, luscious self-help books, massive jewelry pieces, and hundreds of things I’ve never seen and still don’t entirely understand. I ran into friends, the kinds of friends who give meaningful hugs and words of support and encouragement. There’s another expo in September and I’m already excited.

Healing energy in crystals, or at the very least, beautiful things for your eyes to see and hands to touch.

One of the most meaningful bands of my life, Modest Mouse, played a mile from my home in front of the iconic Bethlehem steel mills and I felt every feeling from the tenth grade to present day in one hour and forty minutes. They played Trailer Trash three songs in, and my soul hovered out of my body and into the crowd. It reminded me of my past and how far I have come. In those minutes I intensely missed everyone I have ever loved. I wondered what they are doing now, and felt such peace that I have moved passed the point of hurt and anger to sincerely wishing them well. I wonder if they felt it, wherever they are.

"Eating snowflakes with plastic forks And a paper plate, of course You think of everything"

“Eating snowflakes with plastic forks
And a paper plate, of course
You think of everything”

 

I traveled to upstate New York to see my beautiful cousin get married in front of a magnificent waterfall, followed by a reception at summer camp site (!!!) where I get to reconnect with my family and celebrate a beautiful day. It was one of the cutest weddings I have ever seen, and I’m so proud of her.

The beautiful Ellwoods, such a great rock'n'roll last name.

The beautiful Ellwoods, such a great rock’n’roll last name.

My Mom has come to visit, and seeing her always makes me feel better, too. After the deaths of my Gram and my Stepdad just four months apart, I feel a new sort of connection to my Mother. And this is my Babchi (“Bob-she”), my Dad’s mother, who is over 80 years old. She has survived seven children, a seemingly infinite number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and cancer. Even after her cancer treatments when she lost all her hair, it grew back thick and full. She doesn’t color it. Now you know where I get it from.

Babchi is Polish for "Grandmother".

Babchi is Polish for “Grandmother”.

I went to an art show in Easton that was so spectacular, so well-attended, I felt like I was in a big city. Everyone there was uniquely beautiful and friendly, the quality of the art was of such a high caliber, my heart swelled with pride for the Lehigh Valley. There is something to be said for sticking around to see your community step into it’s fabulous self. Even better if you can participate in some way, even if that way is to stand with your mouth agape looking at a painting that makes you feel something deeply, and telling people about it, especially the artist. Thank you.

 

BOOM art show in Easton, PA. This quiet cityscape is by Bill Hudders.

BOOM art show in Easton, PA. This quiet cityscape is by Bill Hudders.

 

… Each day I’m working on finding the balance between doing my best to be productive without pushing myself to the point of physical pain. Healing is immensely important as it is already taking longer than expected. When I think about the concussion, this stupid and preventable accident, I get so angry, but anger has never helped anyone to feel better. So while I figure out how to go about my days until I can be normal Jaime K again, I have my books, some really wonderful friends, couch naps while the sun streams in, lavender tea and guacamole, podcasts and shoulder-warming walks in the sun.

And along with a mental and physical overhaul, Save the Kales! is getting one as well, from the inside and eventually out. This hasn’t been simply a “food blog” since the beginning, but going forward I will write about non-food issues with even more intent. It is our stories that connect us.

xo Jaime K

 

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

BOOKS: Nut Butter Universe by Robin Robertson; Linguini with Thai Pesto

All of us know and love Peanut butter, and have become acquainted with ever-popular Almond butter. But what about pistachio, walnut, chestnut butters? We seem to forget that we can make our own nut butters with a few ingredients and a blender, and then blank on what to do with them beyond a condiment for toast.

Nut Butter Universe Cover Welcome to the stage: Robin Robertson’s Nut Butter Universe. This salivation-inducing addition to my cookbook collection is about 150 pages of inventive, savory recipes that combine comfort food and international flair.

Recipes include beauties like Scalloped Cashew Potatoes and Cauliflower, Peach Almond Butter Quesadillas, and Tropical Chickpea Brazil Nut Stew. I know! I KNOW! You didn’t know these foods exist and now know, with everything in your soul, you can’t live without them. Who would want to?

Peanut butter is one of Chubby dog’s favorite snacks, so he was particularly excited about this one.

Nut Butter Universe, dog approved.

The first recipe I had from this book was Indonesian Gado-Gado (p. 49), prepared by Dianne. I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days afterwards, and tried to recreate something like it with raw shredded cabbage and spicy peanut sauce. EVERY recipe I’ve made from Nut Butter Universe is just as addicting, and this has quickly become one of my favorite new cookbooks in 2013.

I’m happy to share this recipe today, which combines two Karpovich household favorites – pesto and peanut sauce. Heaven on earth, right? This recipe can be made gluten and soy-free as well!

Linguini with Thai Pesto, by Robin Rpbertson from Nut Butter Universe

Linguini with Thai Pesto, by Robin Rpbertson from Nut Butter Universe

Linguine with Thai Pesto

(by Robin Robertson from Nut Butter Universe)

Redolent of garlic, lemongrass, and pungent herbs, this Asian-style pesto makes a fabulous fusion dish when combined with linguine. Most of these ingredients, including the slender, hot Thai chile, are available in supermarkets. Thai basil can be found in Asian markets, as can any of the other ingredients that your regular market may not stock. To make this gluten-free, use gluten-free pasta.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large cloves garlic

  • 1 Thai bird chile, halved lengthwise and seeded

  • 1 stalk lemongrass, white part only, chopped

  • 1 teaspoon natural sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup Thai basil leaves

  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves

  • 1/2 cup parsley leaves

  • 1/3 cup peanut butter

  • 3 tablespoons water

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

  • 
12 ounces linguine

  • 1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts

Preparation:

Combine the garlic, chile, lemongrass, sugar, and salt in a food processor and process to a paste. Add the basil, cilantro, and parsley and process until finely ground. Add the peanut butter, water, and lime juice and blend thoroughly, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Set aside.

Cook the linguine in a large pot of salted water just until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the water. Toss the pasta with the sauce, adding a little of the hot pasta water, if necessary, to thin the sauce. Garnish with peanuts and serve immediately.

Serves 4

From Nut Butter Universe by Robin Robertson. ©2013 Robin Robertson. Used by permission from Vegan Heritage Press. Photo by Zsu Dever.

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LINKS

Order a copy of Nut Butter Universe

Robin Robertson’s Website

Facebook page for publisher Vegan Heritage Press

And! Here’s that gateway-recipe for Indonesian Gado-Gado

Vanilla Rosewater Parfaits (with Lentils!) from Kathy Hester

You’d never think this gorgeous, fluffy parfait is a protein powerhouse made with beans, so your mind is about to be blown.

great vegan bean book This recipe comes to us from Kathy Hester and her freakin’ fabulous new book, The Great Vegan Bean Book.

I love love love this cookbook, not only because of the creative recipes, but because beans are so inexpensive and nutritious, and using them in so many inventive ways helps brings delicious vegan food to so many palates and grocery budgets. High five, Kathy.

Some of my favorite recipes in the book are:

  • Black Bean Breakfast Sausage Patties
  • Lemon Coconut Chickpea Muffins
  • Beluga Lentil Borscht
  • Hard Cider-Sauced Beans
  • Sun-dried Tomato White Bean Wheat Balls (“meat balls”)

Wholly inventive uses of beans to provide texture and flavor, from creamy dips and sauces to silky desserts (see below), plus gorgeous color photos throughout the book, make this book one of my new go-to favorites.

.     .     .     .     .

Vanilla Rosewater Parfaits from The Great Vegan Bean Book

gluten-free option*, oil-free

vanilla rosewater parfait kathy hester

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup  (262 g) vanilla yogurt
  • 1 cup ( 192 g) cooked red lentils
  • 1 container (12.3 ounces/349g) silken tofu
  • 1 tablespoon rosewater
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar (more if using plain yogurt)
  • 3 cups (240 g) vanilla cookie crumbs (*use gluten-free cookies to make gluten-free or leave them out and just have pudding)

Add everything except for the cookie crumbs to a food process and purée for about 8 minutes. Stop every few minutes and scrape down the side of the bowl to make sure it all gets smooth.

In 8 small (10 ounce) custard cups (or in shot glasses to make minis) layer the crumbs on the bottom, add a layer of the tofu mixture, more crumbs, another layer of tofu and end by completely cover the top with the rest of the cookie crumbs.

The mixture will thicken up when you refrigerate the parfaits, so put them in the fridge at least 2 hours before serving but will keep covered for a few days.

Yield: 8 servings
Per serving: 124.1 calories; 3.1 g total fat; .0 g saturated fat; 6.0 g protein; 17.8 g carbohydrate; 2.3 g dietary fiber; 0 mg cholesterol.
Total Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Cooking Time: 0 minutes

Serving Suggestions & Variations: Use different extract flavors, add cocoa powder or even liquors to make an unlimited array of versions. Graham crackers and chocolate cookies make great crumb layers as well.

LINKS:

Order your of The Great Vegan Bean Book

Check out Kathy’s website, Healthy Slow Cooking

Beautiful food photography by  Renee Comet

Colombian Empanadas: Vegan and Gluten-Free by Allyson Kramer

Screen Shot 2013-06-28 at 8.14.58 AM Did you know Allyson Kramer has a new cookbook, available on newsstands right this moment? Her impressive, best-selling title Great Gluten Free Vegan Eats gets some international flair in her new book, GGFVE From Around the World.

Allyson, darling that she is, was kind enough to pop in for an e-visit on her book tour, and provided one of the many recipes you’ll find in her new book (see below).

A few more favorites include:

  • Peanutty Parsnip and Carrot Soup, Fusion Dish
  • Boeuf(less) Bourgignon, France
  • Fig Pastries, Sicily
  • “Seafood” Stew, Ecuador
  • Australian Veggie Pie, Australia
  • Baked Poutine, Canada

As we’ve come to expect from Allyson, the book is full of stunning color photos for nearly every recipe. Go here to order a copy immediately! And enjoy the recipe below. Thanks, Allyson! xo

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Colombian Empanadas by Allyson Kramer

Yield: 12 empanadas

photo by Allyson Kramer

photo by Allyson Kramer

INGREDIENTS 

For the dough:

21⁄2 cups (560 g) masa harina flour

3 cups (700 ml) hot water

11⁄2 teaspoons sea salt

For the filling:

1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil

1 cup (70 g) chopped mushrooms

1 small potato, diced

1 onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

Salt, to taste

1⁄4 cup (4 g) packed cilantro

1 cup (130 g) frozen peas, thawed

1 teaspoon cumin

3⁄4 cup (84 g) vegan cheese shreds (Daiya brand works best)

Vegetable oil for frying

Directions:

In a medium-size bowl, combine the masa harina, hot water, and salt into a dough using a fork. Cover and let rest about 20 minutes.

To prepare the filling: Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large frying pan and sauté the mushrooms, potato, onion, and garlic until the potato is softened and the onions are translucent, about 10 to 15 minutes. Salt lightly while cooking. Stir the cilantro, peas, cumin, and cheese shreds into the rest of the filling mixture. Transfer to a bowl and set in the refrigerator to cool.

To assemble the empanadas: Grab a touch larger than a golf-ball-size amount of dough and roll out in-between 2 pieces of plastic wrap, forming a 5-inch (13 cm) diameter circle. Place about 1 heaping tablespoon (15 g) of the filling on half of the dough and using the plastic wrap, gently coax the other half of the circle to cover the filling. Use your fingers to seal the dough and form a half moon–shaped pocket. Make sure there aren’t any breaks or tears in the empanada; if needed, use wet fingers to help seal any small holes. Place prepared empanadas on a parchment-covered surface and repeat until all dough and filling has been used.

To cook the empanadas: Preheat a deep fryer to 360°F (182°C). Prepare a surface with either paper bags or paper towels to place the empanadas on once they have cooked. Drop about 3 empanadas at a time into the preheated oil and cook for 6 minutes or until golden yellow in color. Place on the prepared surface and let cool briefly before serving.

Recipe Note: For an easy alternate filling, simply stuff the empanadas with Soyrizo (in the book, page 103) and follow the directions the same way.Stir the cilantro, peas, cumin, and cheese shreds into the rest of the filling mixture. Transfer to a bowl and set in the refrigerator to cool.

GGFVEaroundtheworld

*Recipe Printed with Permission of Fair Winds Press

Color Runs, Book Clubs, Farmer’s Markets and Links I Love

As it turned out, that weird stomach bug I thought was over when I made my last post hid itself away just long enough to trick me into thinking I was better, then woopsies I went out and got sick in a garbage can in a public place. New experiences happen all the time, right? Ew. I spent a few more days hunkered down in bed with peppermint tea and dog cuddles.

I was determined to make it to the Color Me Rad 5K, so I  laced up my sneakers and made it through feeling not just good, but strong and happy and oddly connected to the 7,000 people running along with me. It was beautiful! The Southside was  a stunning mosaic of galloping bodies and candy-colored clouds.

colormerad coop team.jpg

bethlehem food coop 5k.jpg

And take a gander at this video Matt (STK! co-producer) made while running:

Everyone got RAD temporary tattoos, that um, seemed not-so-temporary, at least for the few days immediately following the run. I grew to love mine and briefly considered adding it to my forearm permanently. You are rad. I am rad. Life is pretty rad.

rad tattoo.jpg

These hot, hot days have been perfect for unleashing a barrage of freckles, big ol’ salads every day for lunch, and fantasizing about the mint herbal tea from Horns. In my daydreams I am backstroking through a swimming pool of this stuff, laying across a raft with the World’s Longest Straw. Get yourself over there if you’re in the area. (*Horns had new owners take over within the last year, and they are super vegan-friendly, and friendly in general. And one of the STK! interns works there, so say hello!)

horns herbal tea.jpg

I’m now part of a feminist book club with some local ladies, and our first meeting involved a delicious array of vegan cheese spreads, fig + almond cake, fresh fruit, and some wonderful insight. Our first book was Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth, and it listening to the personal stories of the group about how beauty, self-image, comparisons, weight, and family relationships have affected their lives really left me more aware of how I perceive others and myself.  (It’s awfully easy to make assumptions about folks and what their lives must be like, eh?) I am thankful for the openness and vulnerability of those in attendance who talked so candidly about deeply personal experiences, and the reinforced idea that we never really know what someone is going through, or has been through, especially when we only know them on a superficial level (or not at all).

This is a list of links I love gathered from ’round the internet:

Garden gnomes attend a fancy-schmancy Garden Show (and uppity vendors got mad)

What are the standards you’ve set to measure your worth and success?

Now you can smell like Sylvia Plath or Edgar Allen Poe

The best depiction of Depression I’ve ever read/seen (it’s illustrated!)

Do you feel the need to achieve Boho Perfectionism?

Trade debt for freedom and experience

Why the “Strong is the new Skinny”  trend is damaging to our self-esteem and body perceptions

Sometimes the vegan/health community can cause you to feel self-conscious

The Onion has some insight for those with anxiety (harhar)

emmaus farmers market.jpg

Farmer’s Market season is in full-swing, and I hope you can make it out to a farmer’s market and soak in the greens, the flowers, the straw hats and tote bags. If you’re in Bethlehem, check out the new market on Southside. Not to mention all the rest in the Lehigh Valley area.

… This weekend, me and Ryan take off for a vacation. I’m looking forward to the local walking ghost tours, days spent around a pool, days spent together obligation-free. Bring. It.

Til next time,

xo Jaime K

Save the Kales TV: One Year Passed… and a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!

Last week we taped the cooking segments of our thirteenth episode, the first episode of the second year for the Save the Kales! TV show.

Wow.

With impeccable timing, Vance Lehmkuhl (writer of V for Veg column for The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philly.com) called to interview me for an article about Vegan TV shows. I love that the column is about multiple shows – plural, thankyouverymuch – because that many exist now (!!!), and it’s an absolute honor to be included among the much-anticipated Vegan Mashup, shows by Christina Pirello, and The Vegan Black Metal Chef (who, by the way, is the nicest guy ever, and before STK! aired it’s very first show he somehow found out about it and and found me online and wrote, “Just make it whatever YOU want it to be, and it will be a success”.)

You can read the article here: TV Dinners, the Vegan Way

And STK! has some exciting news, and since it’s officially in print I can finally share it:

stk-seattle-animation

It has been so hard to keep this a secret!

IT’S TRUE. Save the Kales! episodes will start to air in Seattle & parts of Canada, to a potential audience of over two million households. That number typed out looks like this: 2,000,000. *gulp*

I’ll give more info as everything unfolds, but if you live there or have any friends in Seattle, put in a good word for us, will you? I’m excited about it airing in Canada since I already sort of have the accent, eh?

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Our show, the Little Show That Could, has come a long way in the first year. I’ve had some chuckles with the crew about that first episode (parts of it cringe-worthy), the way creating each DIY episode completely on our own has been such a wonderful lesson in getting more comfortable talking on camera, slowing down, tightening the editing, bringing in more cameras, utilizing help of assistants and interns… and I’ve made some very, very good friends.

There's his name in the credits! Yay, Matt!

There’s his name in the credits! Yay, Matt!

Matt is my right-hand-man, and without his help the show would not exist. He’s a co-producer, the main camera man, the director, and editor. It’s a shame you don’t get to see him in every episode because he puts a tremendous amount of time and work into every single one.

A few days ago, I received this email from Matt (shared with permission):

“This past Wednesday I was reflecting on the fact that the STK! show was a year old.  I was thinking of how the quality keeps getting better, how it seems to be growing in popularity and all the positive things that have come out of it.   Then I realized something that came out of the show I hadn’t considered…it’s been slowly changing me too.
 
Obviously, since my daughter came along eight months ago, my whole role in life has been re-evaluated, re-organized and restructured.  All though it has all been wonderful it hasn’t always been easy.  Somehow, Save the Kales! became this goal…something positive, something that I felt needed to get out to the world…something that would make people more empowered about themselves and happy about who they are (or in my case, happy about who I was becoming).
 
I’m a pretty sure I’m a different person than I was a year ago.  I know a big part of that is my daughter, but I know it wouldn’t have been such a positive, empowering change if it wasn’t for Save the Kales!  My transition into fatherhood has been eased a little bit and I’m not as afraid moving forward….and I’m also finding myself eating a lot healthier then I did a year ago 🙂
 
So, as I was saying, this past Wednesday I was reflecting on all of that and and then suddenly the universe threw me a surprise, as it does from time to time.  The blog you wrote at the 10th anniversary of your father’s passing popped up on Facebook somewhere.  I only knew what you had told my wife and I in the past, but I had never read the post.  I was reminded of a lot of things…emotionally and spiritually…and was very touched.  It also reminded me of why we started the show in the first place.  You’re a very good, honest person that exudes positivity and somehow makes people comfortable with themselves at the same time.  I know we saw that spark in you and thought, “other people need to experience this.”
 
I know life isn’t always easy and we still have a ways to go with the show, but you should be very proud of yourself…you can and ARE changing peoples lives for the better.  There is far too little good in the world that gets exposed and I feel it is our mission to get more good out there to the public.
 
With that all being said…thank you, thank you, thank you.  I’m glad there are people like you in the world and I’m very excited that we’re working with you to make it better.
 
  Happy 1 year STK!TV”
Me, Sarah and Matt thee Christmases ago because I can't find a more recent photo of the three of us together (!). THEY MAKE DREAMS HAPPEN.

Me, Sarah and Matt three Christmases ago because I can’t find a more recent photo of the three of us together (!). THEY MAKE DREAMS HAPPEN.

And it’s true. We make this show because we believe in it. 
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Listen, if I was a painter, I’d paint. If I was a musician, I’d make music. Or draw, or sculpt, or create whatever it is my abilities lent themselves to in order to do the work that expresses our mission: be kind to yourself, animals, and each other.
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…As it is, we have equipment and an outlet to make a show on TV and we do our best to make it welcoming and informative while being friendly and inclusive. We make a show because that’s what we can do. We recently got a new sponsor who reached out to us because “the show isn’t pretentious, and [they] like that”. What a compliment!
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At the end of the day, this isn’t about me, or Matt, or our crew. It really is about wanting to make some positive difference, in whatever way we can, however big or small that turns out to be. Doing something is better than doing nothing. And when I run into people at the supermarket who say “Excuse me, do you host that Kales show?” or get emails from people who are, at the very least, incorporating more vegan meals into their cooking, it’s proof that what we do matters. (“We”, as in, all of us. You too.)
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On the set of our third episode, performing the ritual of clearing kitties out of the kitchen.

On the set of our third episode, performing the ritual of clearing kitties out of the kitchen.

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Thank you for watching or reading or supporting Save the Kales! in your own way, and supporting what we stand for. Matt said, There is far too little good in the world that gets exposed, and I feel it is our mission to get more good out there to the public.” Yes, yes, a thousand times YES.
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We’re so happy to continue to do just that.  Cheers to Season Two and heading to the west coast! xo
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… and this outtake video of our second episode, because it makes me laugh every time I see it, and who couldn’t use a good, contagious laugh?

 

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Moving, Adopting a Dog and Other Overdue Updates

I’ve been doing most of my writing off the internet these days. Some new freelance jobs and personal projects have me filling my bag with scribbled scrap paper and taking advantage of the voice recorder on my phone, an effort to make sense of all the thinking. Inspiration is coming from all directions and at the forefront are some self-discoveries (or perhaps “been-there-along-and-finally-paying-attentions”).

The more I learn about myself, the more I have made peace with being somehow an introvert and extrovert at once. My energy level and creativity are at their peaks when surrounded by happy, interesting, involved people. (Bethlehem Food Co-op meetings are wonderful for this. You should come, learn more HERE.) I start to feel a pang of urgency and even sadness when the meetings wrap up, please please please can we keep talking? 

The night I got the keys, my best friend came over and we sat on the floor talking until the wee hours. A christening, a new home full of love and ideas.

The night I got the keys, my best friend came over and we sat on the floor talking until the wee hours. A christening, a new home full of love and ideas.

But those days…the days off when duties are: go for a run in the woods (alone), to make a great big pot of soup from dried beans, just me in the kitchen moving slowly, when cooking becomes meditative again instead of a thing I have to blog about or a recipe that has to top another. (And that’s a lot of pressure as my cooking has become simpler over time. Most things are just incarnations of themselves, enhanced with fresh lemon juice and fresh herbs.) Surrounded by my books and my *furballs and the thickest knitted sweater to burrow inside of, I feel such peace.

A small percentage of my library, still inhabiting various corners of every room until I find the best way to organize them. This home didn't have a soul until they arrived.

A small percentage of my library, still inhabiting various corners of every room until I find the best way to organize them. This home didn’t have a soul until they arrived.

Today, this one last burst of snow before Spring completely takes over, and everything is quieter. I feel overwhelmed with projects to be completed by the week’s end, though it’s exactly the work I’d want to do if I could choose any work in the world. For that, I’m grateful.

AND!

We have a fuzzy new member of the family! *This is Chubby. He is a mini-Dashchund/Jack Russell Terrier mix, and just turned five. He was raised by an incredibly kind, loving family who came into circumstances and were no longer able to keep him and wanted to avoid sending him off to a shelter.

"Draw me like one of your French girls."

“Draw me like one of your French girls.”

Lazy mornings.

Lazy mornings.

He sleeps on my lap, and burrows under the covers, and loves roasted sweet potatoes and I’m just head-over-heels. A goner. Some Saturday mornings, Ryan and I walk him to Main Street for coffee and bagels, something I’ve dreamed about as a Perfect Weekend Morning for several years. It’s wonderful. My heart has expanded and carved out a special Chubby-shaped space.

AND!

We’ve moved, quickly and without much of a plan. Perhaps you can blame my love and bit of background in interior design, but I firmly believe (and can even physically feel) that our environments greatly affect the way we live and who we are. They can support our sense of self and creative exploration, or stifle them. The latter was happening for me and on a whim, I went to look at a new place and immediately it felt like home. It has so much character, more space, and is somehow cheaper than the old place. And we can paint. (!)

An incredibly offensive blue in the office becomes a bright white with the just the softest hint of warm gray. It looks like the room took a huge sigh of relief.

An incredibly offensive blue in the office becomes a bright white with the just the softest hint of warm gray. It looks like the room took a huge sigh of relief.

It’s so funny how people change, our influences and environments shift as we do. I used to ache for a super modern industrial loft space with lots of metal and concrete and square, angular furniture and now I want the softness of natural light, worn wood, space to wander through with a knitted blanket wrapped around me and mugs and mugs and mugs of coffee.

The living room has windows that begin at the ceiling and touch the floor, making it perfect for lounging cats, and dogs with tiny legs to fulfill their duties as impromptu Neighborhood Watch.

Snow silhouettes.

Snow silhouettes.

I’ve been working on a long post about why I’ve been so quiet here (as Allyson calls it, “going to bloggy sleep”), and look forward to finally – heaven help me, finally – feeling satisfied with the final edit.

“Basically, I realized I was living in that awful stage of life between twenty-six and thirty-seven known as stupidity. It’s when you don’t know anything, not even as much as you did when you were younger, and you don’t even have a philosophy about all the things you don’t know…” 

-Lorrie Moore

… Hibernation is good for a mind rest, but I’ve rubbed my eyes open and what I see is new and beautiful.

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“Our Truthfulness Can Change Lives” – On Writing, Blogging, Sharing and the Year Ahead

On the evening of the Winter Solstice, I took a pen and scribbled tiny, torn scraps of paper with the words and ideas I wanted to let go in the year ahead. I was at the home of a friend with a handful of other folks, some I knew better than others, and we shared the very sincere and open experience of acknowledging what we no longer want (writing it down) and symbolically releasing it (burning it to ash). Passing paper and pens around and each of us, silently, taking our turns saying

g o o d b y e

to any negative untruths, what has held us back, or prevented growth.

solstice

If it sounds a little eye-rolling and new-agey, it was. In the best possible way. There’s nothing like seeing your weakness literally turn to dust to give you a new frame of mind.

. . . . .

Last night, I got an email from a sweet girl who wants to start a blog. She asked, “How do you handle putting so much of yourself out there?”, impeccable timing because I have been wondering the same thing.

2012 was the year I put less out there. Moments and experiences and opportunities, and even some of the beauty of the minutiae of day-to-day life, were kept to myself or those I shared them with. It can be so exciting to have these magical tools that you tell anyone and everyone about anything and everything… but before long your life doesn’t feel valid if not enough people “like” it, and you’ve created a weird reality-show version of yourself (albiet unintentionally).

There’s another part, too. While hate-mail and comments are inevitable for anyone with a blog (or anyone doing just about anything, thanks to the internet) and I’ve learned so much about how to handle them when they come, there’s one that continues to stick out and I’ve let it prevent me from blogging some of my most important experiences.

Without glorifying The Meanest Email I’ve Ever Received, one small part of it suggested that Save the Kales! had become what so many other “lifestyle” blogs can become: A perfectly curated illusion of a perfect life with a perfect home and perfect food and a perfect relationship along with perfect clothes, friends, social life and material goods.

Wow.

It shook me, mainly because 1) I know those blogs, I have felt that way looking at them, the way you slink around your house after reading them, feeling ho-hum and wondering how you pulled the short straw in life and 2) I didn’t want to be a part of anything that made people feel bad about themselves. Because life is beautiful, but not perfect.

oasis of health food in Maryland

So I never wrote or shared photos of the biggest experiences of the last year. (Some are too precious, even now, and I like the feeling of keeping the best secrets just between me and the stars.) But in omitting experiences, I omitted the best part of blogging: reflection and appreciation, figuring-things-out and seeing life outside your own mind.

In her book This I Know, Susannah Conway writes on blogging:

“My blog began as a simple space to share my passions and talk about my days. There was no great plan… But as I became more comfortable sharing my feelings online, the healing path wasn’t far behind.

Blogging gave me back my voice after a year of feeling mute, the daily writing as a way to measure progress, the support from my readers such a boon on the days I crumbled, a collective cheer on the days I soared. I felt seen again, that I had a purpose, that my story was helping others, while they in turn helped me.”

Looking forward, I’ll continue to mind the gap between over-sharing and shamefully hiding. Save the Kales! began as an outlet in a time of crippling anxiety and depression, and to look back on how life has changed in almost three years since it began… that really is something. And it wasn’t because anyone handed me an answer — it happened because I worked my ass off to get better and actually got out and did things. I changed my perspective, I changed my life. Easy? Nope. Essential? Oh, yes yes yes.

While this blog will always be a “vegan blog” by default, I’m thrilled to get back to the roots of why I love to write (which are not unlike why I love to read): because through shared experiences we find purpose and connection.

I hope you’ll be a part of it.

Cheers to writing and dreaming and scheming and full-heart-believing.

Happy New year!

xo Jaime K

.     .      .     .     .

in 2012:

ballerinas

For a few months, I worked for an Arts Organization/Festival and have a whole new respect for these types of nonprofits, especially with a small staff (of two) and the faint hint of a budget. The behind-the-scenes work is more than I could have thought possible if I hadn’t seen it first hand. Keep fighting the good fight.

cafe santosha

I had some truly spectacular food.

h20kitchen

Including the fanciest, prettiest, 14-course dinner of my life, with special vegan dishes made just for me. This was edible art from a dear artist/chef who I’m happy to call a friend.

somuchcoffee

… and so much coffee. So. Much. Coffee.

jaimeandryan4ever

I began the fourth year of the dearest relationship to my heart, and along the way learned so much about expectations, commitment, remaining an individual while being one-half of a partnership, and deep, soul-brightening love.

trees

I found my way back to nature, to running, and learning more about what my body (and mind) are capable of.

masonjarlightsinNYC

I embraced concepts of minimalism, and continue to get rid of what doesn’t support my vision of the most beautiful life, tossing everything from spark-dimming ideas to material possessions. Stripped down, there’s a whole lot of beauty.

veria

I found myself in places I’ve only dreamed of, for reasons I still can’t believe are… real. (Sometimes photographs serve as the pinch on the arm, the you-aren’t-dreaming reminder that life is so weird and crazy and good.)

purplehouse

I found my way to new towns.

eastonpa

And rediscovered my own town.

cavetour

And traveled through underground caves.

nycskyline

And navigated the biggest cities.

beach

And went to the ends of the earth.