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

 

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

An Update on the Bethlehem Vegfest Explosion (and Why You Need to Eat at Jenny’s Kuali)

Vegfests are meant to be joyful celebrations of compassion for animals and people, healthy minds and bodies, good food and good vibes.

While the 2013 Bethlehem Vegfest was a positive experience for so many (more on that later), a dark cloud hung over the day when, about thirty minutes into the festival, a small explosion at Jenny’s Kuali food vendor booth sent three women to the hospital for first and second degree burns (Jenny herself was burned the most).

Thanks to @obsidianspider, Todd, for sharing your photo

Thanks to @obsidianspider, Todd, for sharing your photo

It was a unfortunate freak accident, quickly covered by local and Philadelphia media. No Vegfest patrons or other vendors were hurt, and the festival continued to run as planned.

Because we have such a wonderful and caring community, people have been asking about Jenny’s health, the state of the business (as they never got to sell any food at Vegfest and the restaurant closed for several days), and what they can do to help.

I just spoke to Jenny’s husband, and had a remarkable conversation that left me feeling even more grateful and even more proud that these wonderful people are in our community.

  • Jenny is still recovering in the hospital, and her husband happily anticipates she’ll be home early next week. They don’t want her to go back to work just yet, though she’ll be back when they feel she is well enough.
  • All expenses should be covered by their insurance company, so they not in dire financial trouble.
  • The restaurant has been opened regular hours since Wednesday, Sept. 11th!

 You Can Best Help by going to the restaurant, bringing your friends and family, and feasting on delicious Malaysian food until you have to be rolled out the door. 

 

I felt so helpless (as many of us did) and asked if donations would help cover any of their costs. Jenny’s husband, a man just as kindhearted and lovely as she is, said they do not need donations. They want business to run as usual and to serve people their food, cooked with love.

He added if people feel compelled to donate, send the money to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, or a care center for burn victims (like this one locally) “for someone who needs it”.

I expressed my relief that they are financially stable, considering they should have done so well at Vegfest, and then they had to close their business for a few days. That’s when he said something so genuine:

“So I don’t have an extra ten dollars to spend, so what?

It’s just money. Life is more important.”

Where to Go:
 Jenny’s Kuali, Malaysian Cuisine
102 E. 4th Street, Bethlehem (Southside) PA, 18015
Open 11am-8pm Mon-Wed; 11am-9pm Thurs-Sat (Closed Sunday)
610-757-8088
www.JennysKuali.com
Jenny’s Kuali Facebook Page (for updates & specials)
Dine in or Take out
Very vegan + gluten-free friendly!
BYOB — and located right next door to a Wine & Spirits shop
Appetizers start at $2, and most entrees are just under $10
 
Delicous food at Jenny's Kuali
 

I wrote about them for Lehigh Valley Style as one of my Favorite Things in the Lehigh Valley (scroll to the bottom).

Jaime K’s tips: Jenny’s is easily one of the most vegan-friendly places in the area, and they are proud to serve so many options to the vegan community. Most of their desserts are made with coconut milk, and you can’t go wrong with the bok choy in any entree. It’s also extremely budget friendly – the last time I ate there with Ryan, we got two appetizers, two entrees, and a dessert and it was under $30 (after tax!). If you go on a weekend night, you may want to call ahead for reservations (not always necessary, but a good idea).

Food is love. Show your love for these wonderful people and this shining gem in our restaurant scene and community by supporting Jenny’s Kuali.

Wishing Jenny a peaceful, restful recovery. xoxo

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

Sweet Relief + Forks Over Knives Giveaway!

After three days of a stomach bug, I’m finally feeling human again. Thank goodness, just in time for the Color Me Rad color run this weekend in Bethlehem – will you be there?

To celebrate eating food and feeling healthy (heck, just normal), I’m giving away a blu-ray copy of Forks Over Knives! Cause health feels good.

Grateful to have a morning full of banana ice cream.

Grateful to have a morning full of banana ice cream.

To win:

Leave a comment telling me what you’d like to see on an upcoming episodes of Save the Kales! TV show, and/or a written post here on the blog.

You can leave comments on –  Facebook or Twitter

I’ll use a random number generator to choose a winner in June!

Being sick after such a wonderful few weeks was a drag, but I got to sleep for a hundred hours and catch up on goofy paranormal ghost reality shows. You know, the important things. Looking forward to getting back to work and filling you in on cooking for Joan Jett, being featured on Our Hen House, and writing an article for the next issue of a beautiful magazine. 

Be well. xo