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Hello, Monday

Thank you so much for the questions and comments on fair trade! Those I've received so far have given me some great food for thought. Now I'm pretty sure I have enough material for several articles. Please keep your questions/criticisms/overall thoughts on fair trade coming!

Monday has, once again, arrived a little too quickly. We just love weekends around here!

One way to combat the Monday blues? Think of, list out, plan more things I have to look forward to this week.


Hello, Monday.

Hello, walking with my mom and Nolan to hash out plans for Katie's bridal shower. (I love everything about this- the people in it, the walking, the planning...)

Hello, ordering (lots of!) chocolate for my first big fair trade- centric event.

Hello, Bob Harper Inside Out Method workouts (I'm feeling pretty "tough" lately, and I love it.)

Hello, hair cut! I need one, pretty badly.

Hello, meeting up with a dear friend who I feel like I just can't get enough time with. (She's the kind that is "like a breath of fresh air." )

Hello, extra day off for my hubby, my BROTHER coming home, and Easter egg dying with some pretty fantastic kids.

Your turn! What are you looking forward to this week?


Easter Shopping

As I said I would, I have a few Easter shopping suggestions.

-Divine Chocolate

Mmmm...Have you tried this stuff? Divine Chocolate is 45% farmed-owned. I'm in love with Divine Chocolate for managing to produce a quality product that adds to the quality of life of its suppliers. Read more about the values of Divine Chocolate here.

My pick: The White Chocolate Bar

Runners-up: Dark Chocolate Bunnies

-The Body Shop

The Body Shop sources its cocoa butter from the same farmer-owned coop that Divine Chocolate does. They take care to ethically source other  ingredients "wherever possible." You can read more about the values and goals of The Body Shop here and here.

My pick: Chocomania or Strawberry Body Butter

-Equal Exchange

Equal Exchange is a worker-owned coop that trades directly with small farmers. Their work is helping to build up small farming groups and communities who might otherwise be taken advantage of or wiped out by larger corporations. You can read more about the values of Equal Exchange here.

I recommend their Mint Chocolate Bar or Dark Chocolate Minis.

-Simply Organic Carrot Cake Baking Mix

Simply Organic produces several baking mixes that are fair trade certified, but I think the Carrot Cake variety would be the most fun for Easter (with homemade cream cheese icing, of course.) (I find mine in the "health food" section of my local Giant Food store.) Simply Organic is owned by Frontier Natural Products Co-op, sources ingredients directly from small farmers at fair prices and donates 1% of sales to improve the lives of small farmers. You can download a coupon for $1 off the baking mix here and read more about the values of this company here.

-31 Bits

I wrote about 31 Bits here. I love this company! All jewelry is hand-made by Ugandan woman who are pre-paid at a fair and sustainable wage. 31 Bits also provides programs like English lessons, finance training, and vocational training to its workers to help alleviate poverty and stimulate local economy. Read more here.

-Coco Rabbit Planter

I found this via Serrv, a new-to-me site on a " mission to eradicate poverty wherever it resides by providing opportunity and support to artisans and farmers worldwide." This particular gift comes from CCAP, a Filipino fair trade organization that has been marketing the crafts of marginalized artisans since 1973.

Do you know of any sources for products that support small farmers and/or artisans? Please share in the comments!


Hello, Monday

Good morning!

By the time you read this, it's likely I've had my second (or third) cup of coffee.


It's likely I'm looking for a time to slip in a workout

and I probably haven't showered yet.

(I will, though!)

It's likely I don't have a lot set in stone for the day because Mondays are good days to ease into the week if it's possible

but there's lots I'm looking forward to this week, 

like... out Equal Exchange valentines until every last one is gone (although I'm tempted to keep some of the chocolate for myself!)

...going to my nephew's basketball game(s). I haven't seen him since before Nolan was born!

....finishing up level 2 of the 30 Day Shred and moving on to level 3....Yikes. I'm a little nervous, but I can also tell I'm getting stronger. The getting stronger thing is what has me continuing with the shred. I'm a little obsessed with strength these days.

... going for a walk, maybe?! If it's "warm" enough, I'll be bundling both me and Nolan up to enjoy the sunshine while we can.

...another Bikram yoga class and a few more hours to work on my "courage" project. (<--I'm loving this! The hours fly by when it's just me and my computer and my fair trade agenda.)

...oh, and another visit to a local Spanish church. Did I mention that Tim, Nolan, and I are going there? We are. And no, we don't know Spanish (yet), but we're working on it. Getting to know the language, the culture, and the people is something we've been talking about for awhile...we've decided it's time for us to move past the talking phase. (We almost chickened out but are so glad we didn't!)

So that's a bit of my world.

How about you? What are you looking forward to this week?

I'm linking up with Lisa Leonard's Hello, Monday series.


Courage Project: An Update

Last Saturday was the first time I held "work hours" for this first project on my agenda.

I'm finding out that "courage" has been necessary only to get started. From there? I feel like I can't be stopped. I feel like "I can do this." I feel like I'm on a mission, and it's right, and I feel completely passionate about it.

The more research I do, the more I think I'll focus mainly on the fair trade end of things.

Because there are child slaves involved in the non fair trade end of things.

And while I think the welfare of ALL small farmers is important, I've always been motherly (maybe from birth?). Right now, I feel like a mama bear, ready to do whatever it takes to rescue "her" babies.

Whatever it takes.

I get that I can't change it all on my own

but that's not going to stop me from doing what I can.

I get that there is SO MUCH wrong with the world, and it's overwhelming, and sometimes we can feel ourselves shutting down, waving it all away, closing our eyes because it's just too much to handle.

Also? We're comfortable with the way we've been doing things.

That's part of how I want to get involved. I want to make good, slave-free choices easier, more accessible for the busy, overwhelmed consumer. I'll do the research and lay it out, share my journey, and hopefully make not supporting slavery practices more natural than supporting them. (For a real eye-opener, check out Slavery Footprint.)

I'm still working on getting the new site up (the real hold-up is the name. I mean, really, Nolan was almost born before he had a name).

In the meantime, here are some slave-free ideas for Valentine's Day this year:

Divine Chocolate Dark Chocolate Hearts, White Chocolate and Strawberry Hearts, and Milk Chocolate Hearts

Equal Exchange My Fair Valentines (If we come in contact between the time I receive these and the time I run out, you'll be getting one of these from me!)

Theo Chocolate Gift Sets


This is My City

This post is part of the Just Write link-up, a weekly exercise in free writing ordinary and extra-ordinary moments. I am not so good at writing about single moments yet, but this is, indeed, a free write. In fact, I ended up writing about something entirely different than I was planning- a typical free-writing characteristic for me.

I am drinking hot chocolate made from the last of my Equal Exchange cocoa while I write this.  Choosing fair trade chocolate has become a simple, non-negotiable way that I can support healthy families, economies, and communities.  Anything that involves food and community easily pulls at my heart strings.

10 years ago, I made a decision to go to college for a degree in secondary education. I was not always in love with my decision, but I chugged along and achieved my goal. I worked as a substitute teacher while I transitioned to my new multifaceted role of youth pastors wife, then landed a job as a pre-GED teacher in Reading. It was a job that left me frustrated many days, wishing for something else, running back to my old numbing agent (stuffing my face).

Teaching is not something that pulls on my heart strings. I did it because I wanted another opportunity to get to know and speak hope into lives of teenagers. My number one goal was mentoring teenagers because I was a teenager when I started the whole process and I saw the need (including for myself).

I remember turning down the first opportunity to teach GED classes because it didn't fit with my goals.

I don't completely remember what had  me going for the second one, but I think it had something to do with proving I could do more financially and professionally than substitute teach. It was more about my pride than anything else,I think.

Not my heart strings. Teaching didn't pull at my heart strings.

My pride led me to a job...with adults. Not teenagers. Adults who'd dropped out of school for one reason or another, who felt angry, discouraged, overwhelmed, unsure of what to make of the little white woman fumbling her way through how, exactly, to meet the widely varying needs of each student at the same time.

I fell in love. Still not with the teaching, but with the students. They opened up my world like no one else. Some of them let me into their worlds, shared their stories, taught me more about life...and I did the same. I coveted smaller-group times so I could see that light bulb moment. You know, that moment where something just "clicks" and becomes like second nature? I love that.

I discovered that I am not a great teacher, but I am a really good tutor.

I discovered that many people living here now have the same heart-strings-pulling effect as food and community.

I came home many days feeling so drained, but I just knew I was gathering all this experience for a reason. (Sound familiar, Katie?)

This morning, The New York Times posted that Reading is at the top of the U.S. poverty list. You know, the city full of people I fell in love with.

My head is spinning because that kind of news feels like an insurmountable wall. But I will find a crack, a hole, a ladder...because I'm kind of bent on staying here. This is my city now so I am responsible for being a part of it's restoration.


Spotty Bananas: How to Make This Pregnant Lady Happy

Recently, excitement rose in my world because there were 4 spotty bananas sitting on my kitchen counter.

Spotty bananas make a great addition to toast and peanut butter.

They make great banana bread, smoothies, and (somewhat) portable snacks.

But my absolute favorite way to eat them is chocolate banana soft serve, and we'd been out for a few days.  

Well, no more. (Or at least for a couple of days. )

Today's the day. (My taste buds, my baby, and my body are so happy.) Because I've received a few questions on how I make my favorite anytime "ice cream," I thought I'd offer a bit of a tutorial.

That is, if you're interested.

And really? If you like bananas, chocolate, and ice cream, you should be.

It's that good.

In addition to 2 frozen, previously spotty banana peels removed, I use the following ingredients:

I break each banana into a few pieces each and toss them in my food processor(I do NOT recommend a magic bullet for this one, by the way.), turn it on, and hold it down while it shakes for the first few moment.

Then let it spin.

Once it looks like the food processor is no longer making any progress, turn it off.

Pour in just a little bit of your almond milk (you can always add more later), add a spoonful of  cocoa powder, and add your vanilla (how much is up to you. Mine is actually vanilla flavoring and not exactly extract, so it tastes sweet all by itself ...and I am a fan of vanilla, so I am kind of generous with it- maybe a teaspoon or more?).

Scrape around the sides of the food processor to move everything back towards the blades, close the food processor, and turn it back on.

(Keep an eye on things; this next part will not take long. )

Once your soft serve looks smooth, open your processor, remove the blade (carefully, of course!), then spoon the deliciousness you created into a bowl or a mug.

Enjoy every sweet, delicious, body-satisfying bite.

I know I will.

I was originally introduced to banana soft serve through this post.


29 Weeks: Food Diary Edition

Ever wonder what this pregnant lady eats during a typical day?

I can't say that I actually have typical eating days, but I did take note on what I ate yesterday. I've been so excited to participate in Peas and Crayons' What I Ate Wednesday because talking about what I eat- and hearing/reading about what others eat- has always been interesting to me. Because my pregnancy updates also happen on Wednesdays, I decided to morph the two today.

First up, what Babycenter says about babies at 29 weeks gestation:

"Your baby now weighs about 2 1/2 pounds (like a butternut squash) and is a tad over 15 inches long from head to heel. His muscles and lungs are continuing to mature, and his head is growing bigger to make room for his developing brain. To meet his increasing nutritional demands, you'll need plenty of protein, vitamins C, folic acid, and iron. And because his bones are soaking up lots of calcium, be sure to drink your milk (or find another good source of calcium, such as cheese, yogurt, or enriched orange juice). This trimester, about 250 milligrams of calcium are deposited in your baby's hardening skeleton each day."

And now onto what me and the Babes ate yesterday...

Breakfast (early this morning- I woke up because I was hungry! I ended up eating this around 4:30 am.)

Oat bran cooked with unsweetened vanilla almond milk and unsweetened coconut flakes, then topped with a spoonful each of peanut butter and coconut butter


My new favorite- chocolate banana soft serve.  Just a few reasons to love this stuff:

  • Although my stomach can only tolerate a few spoonfuls of ice cream or frozen yogurt these days, I get to eat an entire mug-full of this stuff without any sort of stomach issues
  • No sugar crashes
  • Lots of nutrients

It's just 2 frozen bananas +

Easy, delicious, healthy, and cheap. Just the way I like it.


Leftover brown rice mix, zucchini made my new favorite way (see yesterday's post), a few cherry tomatoes, and some local tofu (I didn't know there was such a thing until recently) with crushed red pepper and extra hand-grated parmesan on top.

Snack- 2 unpictured peaches


Just what I was craving -a twist on grilled cheese (yellow mustard, hummus, and a blend of cheddar and monterrey jack cheese on whole grain bread, cooked in butter- I have a thing for butter lately.), Beannatural chips (Tim and I saw these at BJ's and decided to give them a try- they're made with bean flour and higher in fiber in protein than my favorite Food Should Taste Good chips), and homemade pickle spears from Mary Ellen (these are seriously delicious and just might be my favorite pickles).


You've seen this before- it's an individual-sized Peanut Butter Love Pie!


An Abridged Version of Super Bowl Sunday

Falafel, eggs with spinach, and hummus

My version of taco soup, tortilla chips, and avocado (+ a bit more soup and chips than pictured)

My contribution to the Super Bowl spread: Evan's Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Dessert Hummus. I did a little taste testing, of course.That's my mom's stromboli and more dessert hummus + dippers.

I went back for one more piece of that stromboli

and this mini sugar cookie made by Anna and Kit Kat

Even better than the food? Spending time with family and family friends.

That's all I've got for tonight. My brain is mush, and it's past my bedtime. I'll be back tomorrow, of course.

Good night!


6 Hours

I did not do a great job of photographing my food intake today. (For those of you who are thinking, "what is this girl talking about?" -I am blogging my food intake during the month of February as a means of examining my relationship with food and curtailing my binge habit.) I like slow Saturday mornings if I can get them..and I got one. I ate breakfast (which was a repeat of a meal I ate previously- pumpkin puree, peanut butter, cinnamon, banana, and Ezekiel hamburger bun) in preparation for a run.

I ran. I showered.

I packed a quick lunch (hummus, spinach, and falafel on my last Ezekiel bun and a banana) and ate it in the car on the way to pick up my niece and nephew. (For those of you who are even somewhat familiar with my family, you know that neither my brother, sister, and sister-in-law have any children. Michelle and Clint are Tim's cousin's kids. They chose to call me "Aunt Sarah" some time ago-and I love it-and I chose to call them my niece and nephew. I love that, too.)

Once we'd successfully corralled Michelle and Clint into our car, we headed to a local theater (a rare treat for us) for a showing of Tangled. (I tried to save my lunch for movie time because I have a thing for eating while watching movies, but just couldn't make it that long. Instead, I snacked on what was left of my dark chocolate bar and a Clif Builder Bar during the show.)

We shopped in the name of Valentine's Day.

We hung around the house. Tim and Michelle made and ate smoothies (I had a tiny taste), Clint played virtual football, I played photographer and tried to regain some energy.

We ventured to the mall (I opted for a diet lemonade from Chick-Fil-A), perused, played with a dog at the pet store, then ventured back home.

I wasn't too hungry upon my return but needed a little something, so I ate another Clif Builder bar, settled in with Tim's my blanket, and sat in awe of all hands-on parents I know. Tim and I had the kids for a total of 6 hours (note- there were two of us available for two kids the entire time) and I am tired!


What I Am Hoping To Get Out of This

The first day of February brought me a snow day to help me ease into my goal for the month.Perfect timing.  (Breakfast was a basic Green Monster smoothie, a toasted cinnamon raisin Ezekiel English muffin with a tablespoon of cashew butter, extra cinnamon sprinkled on top, and a cup of coffee...and then a second cup of coffee later on.)

Today marks the first day out of twenty-eight that I commit to blogging everything I eat (not necessarily everything I drink- there may be many a glass of unsweetened tea, water, black coffee or flavored seltzer that goes undocumented. Everything else will be snapped and posted.)

My line of thinking goes something like this:

The commitment to post everything I eat will bring me accountability, of course, which will lead to the likelihood of a lot less overeating on my part...The idea of displaying everything I eat already has me more conscious of what I'm eating, more inspired, more excited to be in the kitchen...Cooking is fun, but lately I've been feeling so overwhelmed by it. (How do I make meals that are healthy and please both Tim and I without spending all our savings on meat and dairy that isn't pumped full of antibiotics?)

Of course, I know it isn't "my job" to cook for both Tim and I every night, but still a guilt of sorts has been weighing me down. I love the kitchen; I love to chop and create and nourish. I seek out retail therapy at the grocery store, but I've been shy and overwhelmed in the kitchen lately. A defeated attitude has been creeping in lately, and I don't like it. The kitchen is a place for therapy, comfort, trial and error, and messes. Not anxiety.

So I stepped into the kitchen today with one thing on my mind: Enjoy.

Enjoy I did. In the process, I made:

  • Caramelized Onion, Asparagus, and Parmesan Quiche (I used a Wholly Wholesome whole wheat crust and adapted the recipe based on one found at Weekly Bite and previous quiche-making experience.
  • apple pie (also using a Wholly Wholesome  whole wheat crust and based on the recipe on the back of the package)
  • whipped cream
  • my favorite hummus
  • vegetable "fried" brown rice

Ladies and Gentlemen, you may just witness the evolution of a wannabe cook over this next month.

All that cooking and cleaning up (in addition to the workout I broke for in the middle of the day) called for some refueling.An apple to tide me over until I could pull lunch together

Dr. Praeger's California Veggie Burger, extra sharp cheddar, and avocado on an Ezekiel hamburger bun.

Two squares of really great dark chocolate to signal the end of the meal (I did this after dinner, too, but neglected to take a picture the second time).

Another apple to tide me over until I could pull dinner together.

Vegetable "fried" brown rice and steamed edamame.

Oh, and that apple pie? I made it with Tim in mind, but I couldn't resist a taste test. I cut a small piece, added a dollop of whipped cream and a little plain Greek yogurt for staying power (+ a mug of decaf French vanilla coffee for perfection's sake) and closed the kitchen.

But I'll be back tomorrow.