On Sabbatical

Hello Lovelies,

For those of you keeping up with the blog, it won’t be any news to you that I’ve been quite sporadic in the amount of posts. I’ve been very busy with my internship and house responsibilities, but more than anything I’m tired, and weary and growing. God has been teaching me quite a bit, and the amount of internal retrospection and processing leaves me without much to share on the blog.

I hope to be able to return with vigor, but for now I have a few other projects I need to pour myself into. With that, I’ll leave you with a few images from the past week, and the promise to come back soon.

xoxo, Michaela

In Nashville at Centennial Park with my sister, Megan.

Look at her beautiful journals! You can check out her website here, or her etsy here. I loved spending the weekend with her.

About to go ‘funyaking’ at North Saluda!

Here’s something to read while I’m ‘away’: http://bravegirlsclub.com/archives/2151

Cheerio!

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Why I Stopped Eating Meat, Part One

This post could also be entitled “symptoms of being a youngest sibling.” Remember about a week ago when I introduced you to my family? Well, as you may have inferred from the introductions and photos, I’m the youngest of four girls!

From left to right: my sister Kelsey, myself, my sister Megan, and my sister Lindy. As long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be just like my older sisters, especially when I was younger. While I’m sure they were just as nerdy and homeschooled as I was, in my eyes they were the most beautiful, smartest, and coolest girls I could conceive of. If they cut their hair, mine was immediately too long. Their current pastime was the only thing I wanted to do, and whatever room they were in immediately became a desirable fortress.

I’m sure having a mini-me that constantly imitated them and followed them around was irritating, but for the most part they included their annoying lil’ sis.

Why do I tell you this? Well, because my sister Kelsey is the original reason I stopped eating meat. She went vegetarian, and shortly thereafter I swore off meat as well. February 2008, I decided to go vegetarian for a year, whatever that meant. I’d abstain to see what it was like, and I completely expected to be eating meat once the year was up.

This from the girl whose favorite foods were Wendy’s hamburgers and beef-laden tater tot casserole. From the ages of 8 until 13, when we got fast food (a somewhat rare occasion) I would knock back two junior hamburgers, ketchup, mustard, and extra pickles, an order of chicken nuggets, french fries, and a root beer or frostie if my mom would let me. I cringe to think of the type of food I ate, but I was growing up on a farm and growing fast! I needed a lot of fuel, with my mom’s home cooked meals supplemented by . . . “food” that I thought was delicious.

Since I did grow up on a farm of sorts, I grew up eating lots of fresh vegetables and good food, and knew my way around a kitchen. I could cook and follow a recipe and I enjoyed cooking, but it wasn’t always a priority. Once I stopped eating meat, I started to increase my time in the kitchen, cooking and experimenting with different combinations.

It was after, and not before, I became a vegetarian that I started reading books like Michael Pollan’s An Omnivore’s Dilemma or Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals. I began to discover a whole wealth of literature about our food system and its flaws, and the health, environmental, and social benefits of ascribing to a vegetarian diet. Once the year was up, I never looked back–I knew I wasn’t going to eat main stream meat ever again. Now, sustainable food is my passion and what I’m studying in school.

I guess it’s good that I’m a copycat who wants to emulate her big sisters so much. Even better that I have strong female role models that I can emulate and know that I’m aspiring to something wonderful. Without my big sis Kelsey’s influence, I probably never would have discovered my interests in what I am now pursuing as a vocation. So there it is: no breaking, philosophical moment that made me decide to stop, only a little sister wanting to be like the person she’d always looked up to.

She just graduated with a degree in Nutrition, and secretly (or not so secretly) I still want to be like my big sis. She’s my go to source now for nutritional wisdom, and a continuing inspiration to find out about the effect food has on my body.

Who has had the biggest influence on you?

 

We’re All Broken and Screwed Up

Aren’t we?

I tend to think I’m the only one with inner battles, the only person who struggles and wages war. I’m the only one that puts up walls and façades, the only one that hides my weakness and hurts and problems. I must be the solitary screw up that looks like she has it all together, and that makes me very special. That makes my problems valid, and excusable, and exceptional. If I’m the only one with problems, one that can be clinically diagnosed at that, I can claim an angst limited to a select number of a special, troubled elite. In a sense, it’s all quite romantic, really.

Of course, that deceptive mentality isn’t constant. Most of the time I’m bemoaning the fact that I don’t have the usual problems that I perceive others having, anxious over the fact that I’m not healed, not whole, not normal with normal problems.

There’s only one wrench to throw into this mentality. What in this far, wide world constitutes a ‘normal’ problem? Would it be more normal, perhaps, if I had to worry about where I was sleeping tonight? Or if I worked my hardest in all my classes, only to have anxiety about passing? Or if no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t connect to others in a way that felt real and meaningful. Maybe it’d be better if I had a pattern of co-dependency, or felt so inadequate in my own skin I felt forced to joke about who I was. Why do I think that I am unique in floundering because I struggle with the remnants of an eating disorder? Because the problem isn’t an eating disorder. The problem isn’t eating too little, or eating too much, or feeling a lack of control, or feeling pleasure from too much control.

It all goes much deeper than that, and to think that fixing the surface problem will make me better, happy, or whole is a lie. And to think that I am unique in having problems is also a falsehood, a fabrication from a dark place. Recognizing the pain that my problems causes me should prompt me outward in compassion to others, not push me further within myself. Being involved in intentional community at the Vista House, and reading literature about growing together purposefully and deliberately has helped me realize the great similarities within our differences.

Take hope, then, that you are not alone. And give hope, because you are not alone.

Zucchini Muffins

We have an abundance of zucchini and summer squash in the VH garden right now. I wanted to make Zucchini bread, but . . . I couldn’t find any bread pans. I now know where they are for future endeavors (I actually made whole wheat bread yesterday!), but ended up making muffins instead. Cooking and baking with foods grown in our backyard=healthy, cheap, and seemingly part of a movement that makes us alternative and awesome.

Zucchini Muffins
2 cups grated zucchini (two small zucchini or one large)
1 medium sized banana
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons chia seeds (flax seed meal should work as well)
1 cup organic whole can sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 tsp vanilla extract

3 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp iodized sea salt
1 tsp allspice

1. Process zucchini in food processor, using grater attachment.

2. Preheat oven to 325; mash banana and combine with zucchini.

3. Make chia “egg” by combining the water and chia seeds. By the time you add them to the mixture, they’ll look like this:

4. To zucchini mixture add honey, sugar, and vanilla extract. Add chia egg.

5. Mix together dry ingredients. Fold wet into dry.

6. Spoon into muffin cups; bake for 26 minutes at 325.

You know what would be absolutely delicious mixed into this baby? Walnuts. Unfortunately . . .

And apparently there is a sale on Zyrtec for those of you who have allergies!

Have you made anything from your garden? 

This post is shared on Fight Back Friday over at Food Renegade!

Garden of Growth

Last week, Chad and I spent a few hours composting hundreds upon hundreds of seedlings. Now, I understand from a business perspective that, as a farmer, you have to overplant in case something happens. I also understand that it takes a scarce commodity, time, to find appropriate homes for them. Composting it is . . . unless you have an intern that feels almost more tenderly for abandoned plants than for abandoned puppies.

Here are just a few of the plants I filled my car with to bring home, and I barely rescued any:

There’s a nearby church that has garden plots for the community, and after planting some around the Vista House, I called up the pastor and procured a space!

I had to lay down newspaper and cardboard to kill the weeds . . .

. . . before I ran out. Then I poached some from a dumpster behind a shopping center 😉

Filled completely, sprinkled with fertilizer (and one happy gardener):

I then had to let it rest a week. According to the people in charge of the garden at the church, the soil they got needed added nitrogen. After talking to Roddy and Chad, however, I was skeptical about this addition and am hopeful that my plants don’t get burned by too much.

My little rescues went back in the car after a week of rest and water at the VH (ignore the dirty socks. Comes from working on a farm . . . at least, that’s what I tell myself)

And over to the church to be planted!

Isn’t it beautiful? I planted peppers (sweet and hot), tomatoes, okra, oregano, and watermelon. I’m so excited for my plants to start producing fruit, and to not be dependent on the dining hall this fall for all of my goodies. Speaking of school food, check this out over at Food Renegade (and watch the TED talk at the end!)

Do you have a garden? 

What is in season in your region?