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.


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.


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.


Thankful Thursday: 7 September 2012

Today’s Thankful Thursday (on, ahem, Friday) comes from a need to slooowwww down. Times like these call for a good trip to the library, where think I got the best seat in the house! That’s a start. Today I’m remembering the best parts of the last few weeks, beginning with something beautiful I found a few moments ago.

“There are two ways to spread happiness. Either be the light who shines or the mirror who reflects it” – Edith Wharton

.     .     .     .     .

LoveList: September 07, 2012.

{This rainbow of lines drawn in pen inside a 1962 copy of “Something Wicked This Way Comes” from the library.}

{Last week I went to write at an outdoor mall and sopping wet children fresh from the fountain came up to tap on my keyboard and make jumbles of letters. Water dripped from their chins when they smiled.}

{Picked up this soda, first for it’s package design, second for it’s color and third for it’s delightful flavor combination: grapefruit + chamomile + cardamom. The others are equally lovely.}

{While taping for STK! Episode 5 (it airs this Sunday!), chef Wendy brought her Vitamix into the garden to make some food. She was walking through the veggies with that huge knife, hacking tomatoes from their vines in a strange vegan, local, organic, DIY, insert-other-word-here Children of the Corn-esque scene.}

{We had a steering committee meeting for the Bethlehem Food Co-op at Robin’s house, which is one of the most gorgeous, covetable homes in the entire Valley. There is strange and lovely art everywhere and it’s full of love from a family that is, no surprise, also full of love and creativity. Plus, she made vegan carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Everyone had seconds.}

{I went with Christian to be photographed for the cover the The Mix weekly paper, and for a few hours we made faces and smirked at cameras. It was such fun to be in a room with friends, reaching for imaginary apple trees and trying not to laugh. Behind-the-scenes photos are HERE.}

{… and somehow, Fall happened.}

BETHLEHEM FOOD CO-OP: Guest Post in a Series exploring needs of Various Diets

The beloved Bethlehem Food Co-op is making (seriously impressive) strides, and just launched a new promotional poster series to raise community awareness. In conjunction, they have asked members with various dietary needs to contribute to the Co-op Blog with short essays about why the Co-op would address their specific needs.

I was happy to contribute a little something for Vegan diets (click to read). 

Bethlehem Food Co-op Poster

If you live in the Lehigh Valley and are not familiar with this project, take a few moments to poke around the website and learn about how this can GREATLY impact our community in so many ways it would take a day to list them all.

Or say hello in person when you find us at a farmer’s market or event local event. The local residents, businesses, farmers and economy will benefit from this and, as a member of the community, YOU directly benefit as well. Talk about win-win!

Visit the Bethlehem Food Co-op website to learn more and get involved.


Woo, what a week! This week I’ll get to see the FULL episode of the show, and it’ll air by the weekend, I do believe! Dates and times to come! We’re also going to be taping some of Episode 2. Man, this is just too much fun.

But let me point you to some things:

The first is a wonderful project that YOU can be a part of: A Cookbook Fundraiser for Bethlehem Food Co-op. The Co-op folks are working on putting together a professional, color-photo cookbook as a fundraiser. They are collecting recipes now! Send one in and get it published! We will even borrow the talents of professional food photographers to make your dish look like a fancy supermodel.

Surely your recipes will be better than the ol' sandwich loaf.

Recipes do not have to be veg*n, but in a fun twist, the cookbook is striving to include adjustments for all recipes with tips on how to make them vegan or vegetarian wherever possible.

You (yup, you, the readers!) have proved time and again that you are creative little geniuses in the kitchen, so don’t be shy – send in your work!


–      –      –       –      –      –     –     –     –     –

  The second thing I want you to take a few moments and read is this post by Allyson of Manifest Vegan. She posted this a couple weeks ago and I keep returning to it when the mood strikes. It’s inspirational, it’s 100% true, and it’s done in that cheerful oh-so-darling Allyson way.

Please head over to her blog and read TEN SIMPLE STEPS TO HAPPINESS.


…I discovered a really fascinating way of approaching life through the study of Buddhism and Hinduism: simply to live compassionately. I tossed a lot of what I didn’t feel applied to me and kept that one notion. And, it really does go a long way.

That is why I’m vegan. I’m not in it for denser bones, healthier eyes, stronger muscles, or smoother digestion–although these things are very nice perks. I guess you could say I do it for my mental health. I do it because it makes me happy. I do it because I want to be a compassionate person, both to others and to myself. For me, veganism just fits right in with everything so very nicely.

Ten Simple Steps to Happiness by Allyson Kramer of Manifest Vegan

  • 1) Say thank you, and mean it.
  • 2) Take change as an opportunity to act.
  • 3) Have no expectations. 
  • 4) Smile.
  • 5) Let the important people in your life know how much they mean to you.
  • 6) Don’t get bogged down with toxic emotions like jealousy, anger, fear and self-loathing.
  • 7) Love your body.
  • 8) Help others.
  • 9) Surround yourself with positive people, and let the one’s who don’t bring you positive energy (and especially those with downright negative energy) fall to the wayside.
  • 10) Be the change.

*Note that all of these topics are expanded upon in the actual post, so head over there to read it, learn it, live it.

Marcel the Shell: A modern day prophet

Let’s Cooperate

I’m off to a wedding today (woohoo! I watched wedding shows all morning so I’m extra-lovey and super excited!), so check back next week while I hope to get caught up on posts that have been stewing in my brain for weeks.

But let me remind you about this little initiative… well, scratch that. It’s a big deal.

The Bethlehem Food Co-op is rolling along, full steam ahead.

WE NOW HAVE T-SHIRTS, BUTTONS, BUSINESS CARDS AND BROCHURES! Go to the website to learn more about how you get any of these wonderful things to spread the good word.

A committee is currently working on putting together a cookbook for a fundraiser and you’re going to want to get one, because no one can ever have too many cookbooks. Ask me, I know. If you’d like to know more or be a part of it, send an email to

The next Bethlehem Food Co-op meeting is open to ANYONE, and will be this Thursday, April 19th at 7pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Center Street in Bethlehem. Bring a friend, bring your kids, bring cookies.

On Saturday, April 28th, we will be part of Bethlehem’s Earth Day celebration with information and be part of activities for the kids!

Poster in progress, Christian Weber Creatives. I'll replace this with a real one when he sends it to me.

Speaking of Bethlehem, starting this May the NEW Historic District Farmer’s Market will begin at the Sun Inn Courtyard, right there downtown (walking distance, hey now!) on Thursdays from 11am-3pm. The Co-op will be around with an information table and helping the vendors if they need it.

If you would like to be involved in ANY of these wonderful projects, leave a comment and I’ll help you get in touch with the right people.

Vegan Blogger Conference in Philly: DIY Style… and a Week of Wonderful

Hello! Hello hello hello. I’m not sure I’ve ever been so excited for a Monday. I stumbled around the house a few minutes before remembering: I don’t have to do anything but awesome things ALL WEEK.

Photo by Momota.M

Starting today! But for now, let me tell you the rest of the week Ryan and I will finally be taking that getaway trip  we tried to take a few weeks ago. Our goal is “no work” but there is so much to be done, SO MUCH TO TELL, I’m not sure we’ll comply. In any case, it’s supposed to rain and I’m perfectly content (happy, even) to take my book-pile and computer to a coffee shop for several hours and put a dent in what needs to be done. Or maybe I’ll just take a lot of baths. We’ll see.

On Friday, I’ll be speaking at Northampton Community College about the inspiration and forward progress of The Bethlehem Food Co-op. I love public speaking and I love the co-op! Win-win. There were be will a few other great people on the panel from other projects and initiatives, and a question and answer session. Yay, learning!

When secrets are no longer secrets

Saturday I’ll be at the Spring Home Show at Stabler Arena. I can’t tell you why just yet, but I can tell you it’ll be to officially announce The Big Secret. Which means by the end of this week, I’ll be able to tell everybody which feels both exciting and overwhelming. If you’re in town and want to learn about local companies that can help with home improvement projects, etc… come visit! I’ll be there between 2pm-4pm.

So today… ah, today. Just as I am working to squish the last of the anxieties I have about The Big Secret, I can finally talk to just the people who can offer the best advice and understanding.

They are none other than Christy Morgan from The Blissful Chef:

Christy Morgan aka The Blissful Chef

AND Allyson Kramer from Manifest Vegan:

Allyson Kramer and Manifest Vegan book

I cannot tell you the amount of respect and adoration I have for these two, not only for their hard working ethos and the fact that they are published authors (Allyson’s book comes out in a few months!), but because I have had the pleasure to know them as friends thanks to the internet, and they have been excellent role models and even at times, support systems.

I’ll blabber on about them after today, WITH PHOTOS, because Christy is in Philly this week for a book tour. Tonight she will be doing a book signing and cooking demo at the Whole Foods in Jenkintown, PA. Give them a call if you want to reserve a spot (it’s free!), and maybe I’ll see you there from 6-7:30pm.

But once I get myself dressed, I am off to Philly to Allyson’s house where I hear rumors that the three of us will make cooking videos together. And maybe shopping! And Allyson made lunch! And and and… ?

So if you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and check out their websites, Christy’s here and Allyson’s here.  They are masterful! Oh, and gluten-free folks – Allyson has been cooking only gluten-free (vegan) food for the past few years. Something for everyone, just as it should be. 

Coming up tomorrow…  DIY raw “Larabars”, you will pinch yourself when you see how easy and affordable these are. Also coming soon, piles of smokey baba ganoush and a review of a swanky farm to table pop-up restaurant (minus the pretentiousness).

Until then, here’s where I spent my morning. Isn’t it beautiful?

Prettiest thing I ever did see.

AND don’t forget: The next Bethlehem Food Co-op meeting is TOMORROW, Thursday March 22, at 7pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Lehigh Valley (424 Center Street  Bethlehem, PA 18018).

We’ll be deciding on a logo, talkin’ t-shirts and cookbooks, exploring ways to get involved with the new Bethlehem Farmer’s Market, and more. Get involved!

Bethlehem Food Co-op Update: January 2012

Now that the rush of the Holidays has settled, we are back to planning meetings and organizing next steps to take toward opening the Food Co-op.

There will be a general meeting on Thursday, January 19th from 7pm-9pm at the Icehouse in Bethlehem (more info below). It will be broken into two parts: 7p-8pm we will hold Committee Meetings. If you attended the first meetings and signed up for a committee, you will meet with your group (or one of your groups if you signed up for several). If you haven’t signed up, feel welcome to come and join a committee. The general meeting will be held from 8pm-9pm, so we can update each other on the actions the committees will take next, among other things.

One exciting element of this meeting will be the naming of the Co-op. It’s currently referred to several different ways among people, websites, and social media. We are looking for one name so information will be consistent.

YOU CAN VOTE ON THE NAME HERE, and do so before the January 19th meeting. Voting is open until January 15th.

*All name suggestions are listed here – some are serious, others are funny. Enjoy.

You can find updated information on the Bethlehem Food Co-op blog, which goes into more detail about the meeting and anything we are working on.


  • Thursday, January 19th 2012
  • 7pm-9pm
  • at The Icehouse in Bethlehem (located on the river on Northside, near Sand Island, right behind The Wooden Match restaurant. The Icehouse is a brick building closest to the river with a public park behind it.)
  • Here are directions to The Icehouse
  • Keep up with the Co-op Facebook Page for more information/discussion
Thanks to Breath_less'56 on flickr for this photo of The Icehouse, Bethlehem

Thanks to Breath_less'56 on flickr for this photo of The Icehouse, Bethlehem

THE INCREDIBLE BULK: Greenstar Food Co-op is Bulk Bin Heaven

A few weeks ago Ryan and I traveled all over New York for weddings, restaurants, friend-visiting and a trip to Greenstar Food Co-op in Ithaca to get excited about our future Bethlehem Co-op.

This post is essentially a picture dump of the inside of Greenstar – I know walking through the place made me excited (truly, groceries and whole foods and eight kinds of vegan cheese makes my pulse quicken) and I hope these images do the same for you!

One of the most memorable parts of the first Bethlehem Co-op meeting was when one of the groups finished discussing their vision and told everyone they had spent the whole 20 minutes talking about bulk bins. I hear you! Greenstar, as with most Co-ops, are bulk bin heaven.

(Not only do bulk bins omit excess packaging, but on a frugal level they allow you to purchase just the quantity needed. Especially good for things like spices, if you are on a budget and need some ingredients but don’t want to pay for a full bottle, or want to try something new without committing to a full amount.)

Thanks, Greenstar, for not yelling at me while I lurked around with a camera!

Caught Ryan in a funny pose. He's probably bracing himself for the amount of squealing I was about to do when I found 8 kinds of vegan cheese.



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Follow-up to the first Bethlehem Co-op Meeting: “Not Knowing is Part of the Adventure”

On the afternoon of the first Co-op meeting, I went to Cathy’s house while she and Summre sat drinking chai tea from one of those tiny chinese tea kettles. Her kitchen is gorgeous – modest in structure but full of old glass jars full of pasta and beans, and so many windows letting in the light, like a metaphor for what was to take place that evening.

We talked business, went over the agenda,  and Summre (cook and former owner of one of my favorite breakfast places in Bethlehem) wowed us with ways we can use technology to help get things off the ground (okay, it’s official: iPads are pretty neat). In between moments of productivity, we talked about kids and perfume and books.

(I was sharing natural remedies/strategies for coping with anxiety and panic when Cathy got up, went to a bookcase, and handed me a copy of “Comfortable with Uncertainty” by the beloved Pema Chodron. Cathy had no idea that one of Pema’s books, “When Things Fall Apart“, helped to save and then reshape my life and self-identity two years earlier.)

Once we wrapped up, I walked home with a mind spinning about the possibilities that are available to us – here and now – in this community, in this town, in the present. 

Photo from - go there to read the wonderful review and check out his excellent photos

Later, at the library, as people began entering the room, it soon became evident that we were going to run out of chairs. “This is perhaps the best problem we could have…” I said, addressing the issue at the start, no one seeming to mind and folks quickly finding floor space to share with neighbors and nodding between bites of homecooked food from the potluck table. Summre’s daughter made a picture on the chalkboard welcoming everyone, along with a tiny cartoon man with a speech bubble proclaiming, “I love the Co-op!”.

If this all sounds a little too romantic, a little too Small-Town-Where-Everyone-is-Friendly-and-Shares-Food-and-Thoughts-in-Public-Spaces… I recognize it; except, well, that’s how it happened. 

Some other local bloggers did really fantastic jobs of capturing the feeling of the meeting itself, so I’ll point you over to their blogs for recaps: Colleen of FromHereNow writes the new official Co-op Blog and (name withheld to remain anonymous as per his blog) from The El Vee has a very detailed review and excellent photos of the people and food.

Surprisingly the meeting ended nearly 25 minutes before expected, but that didn’t mean anyone was done talking. An hour later attendees were still standing outside on the library steps talking (squealing?) with ideas and plans to move the Co-op forward. They say nothing brings people together like food, and a food store “by the people, for the people” seems to reinforce that notion.

Thanks for this picture, Alex.

Feeling exhausted but too excited to sleep, a few of us met at Summre’s house to attempt to find a way to close the evening, but even an hour later as we finally left to go to our own homes, the air felt electric, enough to power all the twinkle lights that have started to pop up around the city. 

Back at home, I was rooting around the dresser for pajamas, Ryan (unable to attend) asked how it went. I pulled the cardigan around me, scratched Pierogi’s ears, and found I was unable to put my feelings into words. And that oddly, after a night of such positivity and action, I felt a worrying in the pit of my stomach.

I’m not sure I have identified the feeling entirely, but it may be in part: if somehow this doesn’t happen, or if it happens and it doesn’t do well, are we failures? Will it be my fault? Is it narcissistic of me to think that something I helped create has enough of an impact to affect people anyway?

… there was that panic again. So I went to my bag to get the book Cathy loaned to me. I opened to a random page, and found this:

A warrior accepts that we can never know what will happen to us next. We can try to control the uncontrollable by looking for security and predictability, always hoping to be comfortable and safe. But the truth is that we can never avoid uncertainty. This not-knowing is part of the adventure.  (“Comfortable with Uncertainty”, by Pema Chodron)

This not-knowing is part of the adventure.

I do know this: the meeting was more successful than we could have hoped, and we left having lots of people volunteering to be on various committees. We have a more direct path on the process (what will likely take a few years) to make this a reality. We are coming up with a cohesive vision for our own food Co-op.

It will take a tremendous amount of time and work, but the foundation has been set and it’s strong.

– – – – – – – – –

To anyone unable to make the first meeting, a second meeting is set for Sunday, December 11th at 4pm at Jumbar’s in Bethlehem. GO HERE FOR MORE INFO on the Make Up Meeting. (You don’t need to attent this meeting if you were at the first – it won’t be new information at this time, though you are welcome once again to join us.)