Beauty in Bok Choy

There are layers, more than we realize. Like so many good things, we find them when we aren’t even looking. Sometimes the disposable parts contain multitudes.

bok choy flower

“I think the universe is pure geometry – basically, a beautiful shape twisting around and dancing over space-time.”
– Antony Garrett Lisi 

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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

“Pause in Our Pursuit of Happiness”

justbehappy

There’s been a lot of living going on: quiet reflections about “what I want” (these things tend to change over the years), travels to big cities for work and friends and (when I’m luckiest) both at once, runs in the thick humidity of July, re-organizing the book collection – ever an ongoing process, filling my phone with photos of my dog sleeping upside-down (little legs sticking straight up in the air BE STILL MY HEART), enjoying time spent with families and loved ones, and some unabashedly lazy afternoons.

 

And there’s a post a’brewing.  One that I feel I need to get up before I can post anything else. I’ve been writing it off and on for months, never feeling quite satisfied it’s quite right. The irony, of course, is part of the post expresses the uncomfortable feeling of trying to get something perfect, or as close to “right” as possible, and never quite getting there, thus abandoning it entirely. Art imitates life?

I love this paragraph and somehow it sums everything up:

“It was like the classic scene in the movies where one lover is on the train and one is on the platform and the train starts to pull away, and the lover on the platform begins to trot along and then jog and then sprint and then gives up altogether as the train speeds irrevocably off. Except in this case I was all the parts: I was the lover on the platform, I was the lover on the train. And I was also the train.” 
― Lorrie MooreA Gate at the Stairs

All of this to say I’m still here. And I miss you (really). xo

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

What Is Your Mission Statement?

mis·sion state·ment

Noun.  A summary of the aims and values of a company, organization or individual.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the mission statement of Save the Kales!, which leads to a hefty dose of self-reflection. Much of this ever-evolving work is so personal, so deeply rooted in where I am in my life and the evolutions taking place. I feel like I’ve been having revelations every day. I shoot out of bed at night to run an idea past Ryan, needing to hear the words come out of my mouth which makes thoughts feel real. I cross the coffee shop and interrupt a friend in the middle of his work, forcing him to take out his ear buds and close his laptop, because I need to talk about this right now what do you think about this oh my gosh I never thought of it this way before!

As the show prepares for it’s launch in Seattle, I’ve found myself trying to concisely explain what Save the Kales! is for blurbs and cable descriptions. And I’ve found I can’t develop the mission statement of all of this without asking what it is for myself.

mission statement.jpg

Developing a personal Mission Statement (or manifesto! or motto)  gives you a tool to guide your actions and decisions when you aren’t sure what you should be doing, not just in the grand scheme of life and careers, but (seemingly) smaller things, like how to spend a free afternoon or how to make a list of priorities of tasks you need to finish.

Is your mission to be of service? Do you feel a calling to help others? Do you want the mark you leave on the world to be about bettering the world?

Do you value alone time, or free time? Is it more important that you make it to yoga class or spend time watching a movie with a loved one than to stay at work until 11pm, finishing up just one more thing? Do you spend the week in a hazey blur waiting for the weekend to arrive so you can read a book, tend to your garden or take a glorious nap on the sofa with an SVU marathon lulling you to sleep?

Do you crave inspiration and stimulation? Do you look for new social groups to participate in, belong to online book clubs, enjoy going to conferences or get fired up about volunteering to help plan an event? Do you love the thoughtful insights that come from being around others with similar passions?

Do you want to be the one to inspire? Do you feel a deep-rooted drive to light a spark in others with your compassion, encouragement and genuine desire to motivate?

Is creativity an inherent part of you, and do you want to do work that allows you to express and explore it?

If you have the internet and eyes, you’ve likely seen the (truly brilliant) Manifesto by the Holstee company:

holstee manifesto

You can find great examples and resources from Gala Darling.

As I continue to work on my own, I’d love to know… what’s yours?

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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