life | surrender to growth and newness

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change…we all feel differently about it. some of us thrive off of the idea of knowing that when we reach our next check point in life, we can look forward to a new chapter that is flooded with different opportunities, scenery, and perspective. others find comfort in everything staying just as it is…no surprises, no disturbances, and no inconveniences. whichever side of the pendulum you may swing, change is natural…it is all around us, and it is part of growth and newness.

does it ever feel like you can hear the earth’s clock ticking as you wait for something to come your way? every moment that passes feels like a crushing wave…back and forth…back and forth…intoxicating and hypnotizing, as you…wait. on average, seeds take 6-10 days to germinate. we work hard to prepare our gardens– composting far in advance, tilling the soil, sowing the seeds, watering, and…waiting. but, then it happens–a tiny, precious seedling erupts in all of its glory and we rejoice for its victorious debut. what is happening in the mean time? the first part to emerge from the seed coat is the root (this emergence is typically used as the first indication that the seed is viable). eventually, the shoot will also expand and emerge from the seed. root growth slows after the shoot emerges and the shoot then begins to really accelerate. i want to point out that this process naturally happens in darkness (keep that in mind, as we will revisit it soon).  eventually, the seedling breaks through the surface of the soil into the light, where the plant will now undergo dramatic changes.

i cannot help but correlate this to a spiritual lesson. God designed us to be creatures of change and growth–the entire process, from start to finish. we are designed in His image, but born into darkness. as we form our roots and begin to grow, we naturally accelerate toward the light, until finally…we emerge. once we emerge, we undergo dramatic changes, continually developing and at some point…we produce fruit. This fruit will help to sustain, nourish, and feed others. isn’t it funny how this cycle is seen everywhere in creation?

change can be uncomfortable and sometimes scary, but i encourage you to embrace all the goodness that may result from allowing nature to take it’s slow and steady course. it may not happen in the timing that we deem to be fit, but there is One who knows better🙂

cheers~

sarah

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Mood Food

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(***Link: read more about plant based diet and supporting your local farmers at Harvest and Home Blog)

Does what we consume really impact on our overall well being? More less, does what we eat affect our overall mood? YES, YES, YES! I could literally shout this message from a desolate mountain top, knowing without care that most people listening will fall into one of two categories; they either truly don’t care, or they claim to not care but really simply lack the knowledge of something transformational. Today, I want to talk, specifically, about SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). As winter begins to dwindle to it’s end and Spring is just around the corner, January and February in Ohio typically bring with them several vicious, mood depleting companions–clouds, gloom, snow, and cold. This unpleasant combination is less than unmotivating and can emotionally paralyze those of us who struggle with feeling disconnected on our best day. Seasonal depression affects more than 25 million Americans and most of these people are women. I will not pretend to be an expert on this topic, but from what I have read, and from personal experience, there are several causes and cures–food and lifestyle being either your worst enemy or your saving grace.

The biggest cause for “winter blues” is the lack of sunlight. If you live in Ohio or have visited Ohio in the winter, you know how precious the January/February sunshine can be. We actually get excited…like, giddy…you know that feeling you think you would have if you won the lottery?? That’s the feeling Ohioans have when the sun reveals itself in January. So, why is the sun so important? Aside from the beautiful supply of vitamin D, the sun also helps our bodies increase levels of serotonin (this is a mood enhancing chemical that regulates hunger and the feeling of well being). Why is serotonin so important? Serotonin converts to melatonin and melatonin is our body’s sleep substance. I think we all know what happens without proper sleep–everything negative begins to snowball. In addition to serotonin, dopamine is equally important. This is our feel good chemical, the one that creates the ultimate feeling of well being and ecstasy. So, how do we stabilize the naturally occurring chemicals? There are lots of different drugs we can take in an attempt to rise, lower, or mimic what our body naturally produces, but I choose to take the natural route. I will make it super simple for you, FOOD, LIGHT, & EXERCISE. That’s literally it. I have read that sitting 3ft from a 300 watt bulb for 20 minutes 3 times a day can replicate that “sunlight” feeling that your body craves in winter months. I personally have not tried this, so I am eager to hear results. Exercise is something that has to be body type specific. I am a yoga instructor, so for obvious reasons, I will always advocate the limitless benefits of incorporating this beneficial practice into you daily routine (that is definitely for another day). Lastly, this brings us to food…glorious, wonderful, healing food.

Eating wisely is the key and this can be most difficult during the winter months because our body’s naturally fall into hibernation mode. Here is a list of items you can stop in your pantry:

popcorn (I’m not talking about Orville microwaveable, local, non GMO popcorn that you pop in the kettle).

steal cut oats

nuts/seed

local, farm fresh eggs

nut butter- almond, cashew, peanut, etc.

seasonal veggies- dark leafy greens, beets, parsnips, carrots, potatoes, squash, pumpkins, etc.

whole grains

local, non GMO turkey (tryptophane is an amino acid that helps our body produce serotonin)

flaxseed oil (high in omega-3)

I want to say that in my passion for food and overall wellness, I tend to lean more toward the magical healing power of a plant based diet. (For more reading from a likeminded writer on this topic, I encourage you to visit my sweet friend Adele on her blog. Her link is at the top…sorry, I had trouble with my iPad). I will finish with one last fact–researchers in the 1970s and 1980s discovered that animals provided with high-protein meals demonstrated lowered tryptophan (an amino acid that our bodies use to regulate serotonin) and serotonin levels, while animals fed high-carb diets demonstrated higher serotonin levels. A low-carb, high-protein diet, as a result, may cause your body reduce its amount of serotonin naturally.

I would love to hear recipes that you all are creating using seasonal, mood enhancing ingredients. And, don’t forget, this winter, forget the candle light…this season calls for tons of veggies, local proteins, and 300 watts–hold the shade.  As always, thanks for visiting!

Much love

-Sarah

Food for thought

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Let me begin by asking the question, “why do we eat?” Is it an instinctive response to a chemical change within our bodies  that cries out for more fuel so that we may continue on with our “hunting and gathering”, or has this urge and lust for “food” become tanted by chemical lased, manufactured, cell destroying warriors found all throughout the commercial supermarket? Have these beautified, convenient foods changed the very makeup of how we think, respond, and view our fuel for life.

I started my collegiate journey as an English major and it wasn’t long before I switched to social work…then dietetics, then early childhood education (with a heart for science and English), and then right back to social work. Clearly, I was having an identity crisis. With a love for the inner workings of all things, whether it be the molecular structure of lipids or the correct composition of a sentence, I have set out a mission to learn about the essence of food and what I can do to create a better, more balanced life for my family and for myself. In doing so, I have found that there is something to eating seasonably and truly being able to account for the food that you consume. I believe that there is a reason squash, gourds, and root veggies preserve so well in the winter months-our bodies need them! As the dreary, cold months seem to linger, we may find our immune systems compromised and mood slightly more “blue” than in the other seasons. Root veggies are packed with beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant that converts to vitamin A and helps regulate the body’s immune system.

Food is more than science– there is an emotional release and a relationship formed as you feed your body. That brings me back to the question of why we are eating. Our society is vastly different than the society of our grandparents and their parents. As time has passed, we have gone from instinctive eaters to emotional eaters and throughout the years, I too have struggled with this distorted view on how, when, and what I should eat. I’m going to reveal a vulnerable side of myself, in hopes that this will help you see why my heart burns with passion and conviction for this topic. Around age thirteen, I began to pay attention to my appearance and I was no longer a little girl who loved to dress up in her mother’s clothes and make believe that she was a mommy of twin babies. I now noticed my unpraportioned thighs and the extra pudge just below my belly button. My face looked “fat” unless I held it just right and so, something had to be done. I can remember 8th grade being an incredibly insecure year for me and 9th grade was when I finally committed to doing something about my “size”– and so began my long battle with eating disorders. In the midst of this food relationship carnage, I had moments of clarity where I thought how wonderfuling it would be to someday work with rehabilitating young women struggling with this very issue. I haven’t made it to that point yet, but this blog is the beginning of my journey to help coach you and educate you on FOOD–real foods that come from the earth and crawl on the earth.

Today, I’m cooking up a root vegetable stew. It’s fairly simple and brings an extra large punch of immune system boosting fuel for a cold day. I hope you are able to try this stew and as always, thanks for stopping by!

Cheers-

Sarah

{Ingredients}

roasted pumpkin (halved and roasted on 425 for 10 minutes)–save the seeds and roast for topping!

5 cups bone broth (make your own or purchase at whole foods)

1 small bag colorful carrots

2 beets

1 sweet onion

4 cloves garlic (to taste)

{Recipe}

**you will need a stock pot and a blender or hand blender**

cut pumpkin in 1/2 and roast on 425 for 10 minute (until soft) on a cookie sheet, with parchment paper.

while pumpkin is roasting, chop all ingredients and add to hot skillet with 1tbsp Olive oil. Sautéed for about 5 minutes and salt to taste. (**tip-always start sautéing the harder, more dense veggies first,allowing them more time to cook).

Once veggies are tender, add bone broth and salt to taste. Bring to boil and reduce heat to simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Last step is to purée with blender or hand blender and serve topped with roasted pumpkin seeds and a simple kale salad.

Bon  appetit!

At Home | A day of Christmas festivities

My days generally bare a certain amount of stress, but it seems that this time of year breads a new and different type of overwhelming emotion and no matter how steadfast my attempt to avoid the vicious suffocating sense that I am bombarded from all angles, I come close to an emotional demise every year. However, this year is different. Halloween had barely concluded before I was decking the halls of the Hatch house and filling our home with pineberry candle scent and gingerbread treats. As the yuletide has amorously swept me off my feet, I have found joy in all the slow, home made ways of bringing this season to life. Although I love the wreath making, baking, cooking and gift giving, I can say with complete certainty that none of this would bare such excitement without the true reason for Christmas–Jesus. As I spent my day baking, creating strings of cranberries, and hanging dried orange ornaments, I couldn’t help but ponder the greatest gift ever given. Can you imagine, a man, born…with a sole purpose to die for us. So, I celebrate this year, consciously and wholeheartedly, and ever-acknowledging the true meaning behind the wreaths and merriment. What are some of your favorite parts of Christmas? Please share memories and sentiments in the comment section below. Merry Christmas all…

Cheers,

-sarah

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Winter Recipe: Creamy Mushroom & Wildrice Soup

I love the excitement that arrives with each new season and I have to say that Autumn and winter always come accompanied by and extra dose of comfort and sentimentality.  October in Ohio brought an early winter-like weather and I began dismissing my gourds, pumpkins, and fall scents, only to prematurely replace them with foraged evergreen garland, home made wreaths, and pine-berry candles. We barley made it to Thanksgiving before I began the transition from Fall to Winter. What is it that generates such overwhelming excitement with the intro of each new season? I think, for me, it is the “newness.” It amazes me how God created all things with an ability to regenerate and it isn’t just an ability, but a necessity.

With Old Man Winter just around the corner, my days are made much more enjoyable with space heaters, electric blankets, hot drinks, and warm slow-cooked meals. Today’s recipe is | Creamy Mushroom & Wild Rice. It’s hearty, comforting, filling, and best of all…super simple. I like to encourage making stews and soups in large batch and dividing it into ball jars to freeze for consumption throughout the winter. I love the idea of making life as easy and simple as possible. I hope you all enjoy this recipe.

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If I were given a day to do whatever I wanted, with no agenda and with no constraints…I would create. I think that is my favorite aspect of cooking. “Until I discovered cooking, I was never really interested in anything.”
― Julia Child

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Ingredients |

2 cartons Portobella Mushrooms

1 carton Shitake Mushrooms

3 stalks of Celery (chopped)

1/2 sweet Onion (chopped)

2 cloves Garlic (minced)

1/4 cup White Wine

1 cup Cream of Portobello Mushroom soup (can be purchased at Trader Joe’s)

1 cup Milk

1 quart Chicken Stock (i used home made Turkey stock from Thanksgiving)

Olive Oil

1 stick Butter

1 box unseasoned instant Wild Rice

1 sprig of Thyme

Salt to taste

Directions |

Start by washing your veggies and prepping each ingredient accordingly (ex: chop celery, mince garlic, chop onion, slice mushrooms).

NOTE| DO NOT SATURATE MUSHROOMS. mushrooms must be dry wiped and CANNOT get wet. If they are saturated, they will not sauté correctly.

Heat about 2 tbsp. olive oil in skillet. Add chopped celery & onions to preheated skillet and sauté until golden brown. Once golden, add minced garlic and sauté for about 1 minute, then add salt to taste.

Next, add 1 stick of Butter and allow to melt. Add all mushrooms to melted butter and sauté until tender (cook time approx. 5 minutes). Remove leaves from Thyme sprig and add to veggie/mushroom mixture. Caramelize by adding wine and cooking for another 5 minutes.

Deglaze skillet by adding Chicken Stock to mushroom/veggie mixture. Add Cream of Portobello Soup, Milk, and salt to taste. Bring mixture to boil and reduce to simmer until soup begins to thicken (approx. 15 minutes). While soup is simmering, cook rice. Add Rice to soup and mix completely.

I love any soup served with a light salad and crusty bread. I hope you all enjoy this simple, hearty Winter recipe. I would love to hear your favorite cold  weather recipes.  As always, thanks for visiting and until next time…Cheers!

-Sarah

Eucalyptus Wreath

The holidays are quickly approaching and it’s time to start getting creative. This year, I have found a new love for wreath making. If you have been following me, you’ll remember the segment I posted of my best friend Tara, as she created a beautiful floral wreath. This is what began my passionate love affair with florals and foliage. I have always, always loved the idea of having my own nursery/flower shop and creating beautiful things out of what I consider God’s most lovely gift to nature, but honestly, the process was far to complicated for me until I began to photograph Tara as she constructed this beautiful, simple, and natural wreath. In lieu of  the approaching holidays, I want to share with you some of my personal wreath making from last week.

I will admit that I am not an avid lover of crafting. I am always so impressed by what I see on Pinterest and Etsy and how some people have been given such an impressive gift of generating profit out of there creations. I will say, however, that I am an avid lover of simple beauty and creating something natural and lovely out of what seems to be nothing. I also feel that the best gifts are home made. I have always thought that cooking, baking, and creating for others, spells “love.” It is a way that I can express love for the people in my life that mean the most. So, this holiday season, say I love you in whatever way feels most natural to you. Perhaps it is making something for someone, or maybe it is helping someone in need. Whatever your language of love, I hope that your holidays are filled to the brim with it.

I hope you find some inspiration from today’s post and as always, thank you for visiting! Don’t forget about the Workshop coming up on the second Sunday of December, where all of you will learn how simple it really is to create our own beautiful wreath. Cheers!

-Sarah

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Slow Living Ohio Workshop: Intimate Gatherings from Scratch-Styling a Table on a Budget

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I love gathering around the table. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy; just good food, good conversation and good people. Taking time to share a meal around the table with friends and family is one of the most important things we can do, and yet there can be so many different obstacles for us all. Yesterday’s workshop was designed for you, my weary hearted hosts/hostesses. The prospect of entertaining does not have to be intimidating, expensive, or over the top-in fact, simple is best. 

I am all about homemade. I am all about simple. I am all about appropriate. I dream of uninterrupted days of planning beautiful gatherings that are centered around people and conversation. In this dream, I symphonically flow through the kitchen, creating the most delicious meal, all the while my home is perfectly ordained with simple seasonal foliage and florals. In other dreams, my family inhabits a cabin in the woods, where I spend my days gardening and tending to my chickens and goats. Then, I come back to reality where I work as a business administrator of dental office, who rises at 5am to prepare my daughter and myself for the day ahead. For the first twelve hours of my day, I reach a certain point of mental and emotional exhaustion, but it is pushed to a point of limit when I arrive home to start an evening routine of dinner, cleaning, home work, bath time, pepping for the next day, and somehow attempting to incorporate a snippet of “me time.” I say all of this to let you know that, I too am human, and although it may seem as though I have it together, I do not always. I have days that, within the first 15 minutes, are laced with tears and disappointment. The everyday grind of life’s routine can be difficult–hosting a beautiful, stress free gathering doe not have to be difficult. So, how do we simplify the daunting task of orchestrating and styling a gathering? Plan…plan, plan, plan. Once you have decided on a date, create a “to do list,” and work from it each day until the day of your event. You can do no greater disservice to yourself and your guests, then to wait to do everything last minute. Procrastination leads to poor execution.

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I want to share a couple conversations from yesterday’s Q&A. Firstly, there was a consensus that everything has to be “Pinterest”-perfect in order to have company into your home (the house, the food, and the table). But the myth of perfection is just that—a myth. The most important thing is being together. As a host, your main goal should be to ensure that your guests are having a good time, and the best way to do that is to be certain that you have a good time, too. Your guests can tell if you are stressed, and it casts a dark cloud over the entire meal. A good rule of thumb is to keep everything as simple and as inexpensive as possible. Prep as much as you can, don’t overthink the menu or the table and by all means let people help. Also, do not be afraid to supplement pieces of your menu with a store-bought item or two, either. As lovely and idealistic as it sounds to offer everything homemade, be realistic.If you do decide on all things homemade…plan ahead. Remember: people first, food second.

Secondly, we discussed the importance of creating a budget and how to stick to that budget. Food and drinks are undoubtedly going to be the greatest expense. Choose only one costly dish. For the sake of your budget (and time), if your main dish involves pricey ingredients, keep the side dishes simple. The goal is not for you to be spending a fortune on a complicated meal, but to enjoy yourself and your guests.

Lastly and most importantly, we discussed styling a table-on a budget. I love decorating my table with foliage, floral, and a mixture of different textiles like glass vases, linen napkins, wicker hot pads, and vintage silverware. My table decor consists  almost solely second hand items. Almost all of my table linens were purchased at local second hand stores. My bottles are old beer bottles and my vases, like my linens, were purchased second hand. Here are some simple tips:

-If you purchase flowers for your home, don’t throw them out when they begin to die, hang them from your window and dry them for later use.

-Utilize the greenery in our own yard. Forage the pine and leafy branches for a beautiful centerpiece.

-Make your own napkins out of discount fabric cut into squares and left un-himmed to create a slightly rustic feel.

-Offer something special and home made at each of your guests place setting. This may be a couple sprigs of rosemary tied with twine or a lovely piece of fresh fruit with a name tag attached.

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I believe that some of the most meaningful conversations are had and the best friendships are made over the table. That might be an elegantly set dining room table at Nana’s over the holidays, a slab of wood in the middle of a field, a makeshift coffee table in a temporary apartment, an over-crowded kitchen table while canning beets. It’s definitely when our day slows down and we come together with the intention of communing, learning, and giving something of ourselves. I hope you find this helpful and encouraging for the upcoming holiday season. Here is to our future gatherings…Cheers!

-Sarah