Monday, August 3, 2015

Figuring It Out

I think I may have figured out where I want to take my career; I just need to figure out how to do it. I've been thinking for some time now, I would like to use my love of food, natural living, creativity, and natural health in my profession as a social worker. I would love to work with people and teach them how living a natural life can benefit them. I love to share how creativity can be a form of meditation, a way to actively meditate. For the first time, I share my dream out loud. I have shared bits and pieces of my dream with others, but this weekend, I finally told my husband my full dream. I told him how I wanted to do something with gardening, creativity, and natural health, or maybe even work with others who have the same belief system that I have. I was even telling him how I'd love to work with people who have lower incomes and teach them how to shop and cook healthy and natural on a budget. I need to research more, but there is information out there about how the microbes in dirt actually help with depression. Imagine having a garden that you can go out to and get your own food, and make your own meals. You don't need to go to the grocery store. You know what was planted and how it was grown. Imagine how much more inexpensive would it be to grow your own food and how healthy it would be. I really believe that being creative is very important, however you define being creative. I do like the idea of knitting, sewing, drawing, coloring, but I also believe that being creative in the kitchen is a great creative outlet as well as a way to keep healthy eating from getting boring. I love the process of creating, but sometimes I love the end product, especially when you are creating something that you can use. Creating clothing, quilts, hats, scarves, etc is a way to put love into something that is useful. I am thinking that since I shared my full dream with my husband, this is something that I should really start to research. I wish there was some place that I could work and get some experience, before actually doing it on my own. The other thing I would love, is to find my "tribe", people who share my vision and my passion. Its time to start moving toward my real dream and passion instead of just working to make money. Here's to healthy living and sharing that belief with others! Amy

Monday, July 13, 2015

Making My Own Food

DIY or do it yourself is a big thing right now. One of my goals in living is to reduce and hopefully eliminate processed food in my family's life. One of my problems with making my own food is that I get bored. I wish I knew more about how to make up recipes as I go that are exciting and flavorful. When I make something new or something that I haven't made in a long time, I get inspired to continue. The problem is I find myself making the same things all the time. The other night, I had a craving for lentils. I almost didn't make them because I felt like its summer and I should be making a light summer dish, not a heavy comfort food dish. I did add grilled pineapple and a caprese salad with fresh basil and fresh mozzarella which I do think lightened up the meal. What it did though, was to inspire me to make more foods that I don't usually make and to actually listen to my cravings when they are healthy cravings. I think my next goal is to learn about different spices and how they work with different foods. We, unfortunately, did have store bought canzone for food today and I bought an egg sandwich at a small local bistro today for breakfast. I am not really hungry for any other food today, but I plan to start tomorrow with making my own foods and experimenting with different foods and spices to feel more inspired to eat healthy, flavorful, inspired foods. One of the things that inspires me is to watch cooking shows as well as to go to my local farmers market. I love seeing all the different foods, some that I have never heard or cooked with and some are just inspiring even though I have eaten them many times before but maybe in a different way. What really inspires me is my friend Holly, at, who cooks every week and always inspires me to use new and different ingredients. I love trying new foods and foods that I have had, but cooked in different ways of with different flavors. Today, I promised my oldest son that we would make granola. He loves granola and yogurt and he loves to help in the kitchen. I want him to help and learn new foods that are healthy, especially since he is on the autism spectrum and I feel that he really needs to watch his diet to help with some of the symptoms of his autism. That in and of itself is enough for it's own post and more. Later tonight, after I find a good recipe, we will make our own granola so that we can add it to our yogurt which I want to become a staple grocery item in our house. Here's to some good, healthy, DIY foods to help kick the processed food habit and save money at the same time! Amy

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Tiny Home Phenomenon

It seem like there is a new phenomenon where everyone wants to live in a tiny home. I actually live in a smaller home with my husband and our 3 kids. Our home is all of 1000 square feet but it feels so much smaller because we have so much stuff. I have been watching tiny house hunters on HGTV and am getting more and more inspired to get rid of stuff and live a more minimalist lifestyle. I initially started this blog when I was about 35 and was starting to re-evaluate my life and the way I live it. When I started this blog, I was hoping to get rid of the reliance on big box stores, material goods, and more things like that. I was hoping to spend time upcycling things from thrift stores and the like. Unfortunately, I have not really followed through with my goals. I have made small changes that sometimes feel like 1 step forward and 2 or more steps back. This is a huge journey for me. I am trying to figure out why this is so difficult for me. I am not blaming the way I grew up, but I think that since I had limited ability to get the things I wanted and we were always on a strict budget, I tend to want to over spend. Its not an excuse, but it is something to think about when I try to figure out why I seem to have an obsession with things and why I can't seem to get rid of stuff. My goal is to slowly get rid of extra stuff and to move toward a more minimalist lifestyle. I want to teach my children how to live a minimalist lifestyle, but at the same time, not feel deprived. I think it is going to be important to explain how stuff isn't what is important in life yet still allow them to have things that are important to them and have the things that they enjoy. I want to live a lifestyle that allows us to enjoy our life, not owe other people money and actually have a savings. I want to stop spending money out to eat. I have a hard time with this because I really love eating out. I want my kitchen to work for us. I want to enjoy cooking and spending time together in the kitchen like I grew up. That means, I need to clean off my kitchen table and find a place for what's on there and if there is not a place, it needs to go. I want my kitchen to look clean, open, and be functional. Another are I need to deal with is my craft supply area. I love crafts and crafts supplies and crafts books. I also have a little obsession with buying things that I don't need. I really need to go through my stuff and get rid of some things that I don't need any more. I need to focus my crafts and not just do everything and anything. While I want a larger home, more like a farmhouse, I still want to live a minimalist lifestyle. I want my children to grow up with things they need and want, but not everything they want. I want them to understand they don't need multiple build a bears and other toys like they already have. I don't see us moving to a larger farmhouse anytime soon, and I actually like my house and the land that it site on. I want and need to make the most of what we have and really enjoy my little suburban homestead. I will keep moving towards a natural life and look forward to sharing my journey. Amy

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Fermentation Update

A while ago, I posted about fermented foods and my attempt at making my own. I tried making my own wild fermented our dough starter and did well. Unfortunately, I didn't do well at feeding it and it went bad. I did end up growing my own kombucha SCOBY. I wasn't sure it was going to work since I had read that companies had started making kombucha so that it wouldn't form a new Scooby. Well, I was worried for nothing. From everything I read in forums, it was mostly because it was winter and we keep a cold house. It's now summer and I have a thriving SCOBY, that probably grew too long in the tea, but it looks so pretty. I think the kombucha is probably too vinegary for my taste. I have heard that plants really like it so I plan to water my plants with the vinegary kombucha. I already have another gallon jar started. My brother in law told my husband that he read that coconut water kefir is really good for kids on the spectrum. I actually have some water kefir grains coming in the mail from Maryland that are supposedly really strong and healthy grains. I can't wait to get them and start drinking water kefir again. I am hoping that between water kefir and kombucha I can kick my diet soda habit. Hopefully once I get my water kefir grains and I get them multiplying, I can start trying to add them to coconut water and see if I can get coconut water kefir. I did read that you may be able to actually use coconut water for Kombucha and I have an extra SCOBY that I am going to try. I just have to read up more on how to do it. From the little that I have researched, for a short time you can "brew" kombucha in liquid other than tea, but then you need to use to tea to feed it what it needs to grow and thrive. I will be trying the coconut water kombucha soon so watch for my updates. Recently, I got an email or saw a Facebook post from Nourished Kitchen about "how to make a ginger bug for homemade sodas" at Like I was saying, I am hoping to some day soon, kick my diet soda habit. I was watching Dr. Oz today and my fire for this goal was re-ignited. I can't wait to try to make a ginger bug so that I can have healthy sodas along with my kombucha and my water kefir. There is just something so satisfying about fizzy soda, but the sugar, the artificial sweeteners, and all the additives make it so bad for you. I'm hoping, I can get my fizzy soda like taste and get some health benefits from the fermented part of these drinks. Some store bought cabernet grape kombucha in a champagne glass My new batch of Rooibos tea with my lovely SCOBY in it started today Happy fermenting. Maybe I'll even try my sour dough starter again! Amy

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Dreams, Passions, Styles

This title seems a little all over the place, but I am hopeful, it is really what this post is all about. I have been trying to figure out my dreams, my passions and my style. What I have realized over the last couple of weeks, probably more like months, is that I love the whole rustic, farm style look. That being said, it goes along with my hope that I can actually live a more suburban homesteading lifestyle. I really want to get back to upcycling, minimalistic living, living and eating healthy and naturally, and basically just living a holistic lifestyle that will keep my body, mind, and soul healthy and happy. We finally got the garden in place. I think we may still have some things to plant, but we have the bones of the garden in place. We have beans that are growing from seed along with peas, cucumbers, luff plants, kale, Swiss chard, spinach, and collards. We have a lot of tomato plants that we grew from see, but we hav4 that we bough from the local nursery that have a better start than the ones that we grew from seed. We have pepper plants that we also started from seeds as well as some ghost peppers that we just bought. Ghost peppers are really hot and we are using them as an animal deterrent (hopefully). We forgot to add eggplant seeds to our order, so we had to get all our eggplant plants from our local nursery. I also have some purple potato plants growing. The other thing I did this year was to add potted herb plants. I am hoping that when the cold weather comes, I can bring these pots in the house and we can have potted plants all year long.
I am hoping that I can really take my idea of suburban homesteading to heart and really utilize my garden and do some canning and some freezing so that we can enjoy home grown food through the winter. I am hoping that we can get better with planning and growing our garden on time. I love the idea of growing our own plants from seeds. My problem is that I am not a good planner or organizer. I love being organized and feel so much calmer when I am, but unfortunately it is not a skill that comes easily for me, which is one reason why I sometimes think I have some issues with ADHD. I have almost completely decided that I love the whole rustic farmhouse idea of life and style, which actually goes along with my desire to be a homesteader. I would love to own a farm with a few animals, but that is not going to happen anytime soon. I would love to try to decorate my home in that farmhouse rustic style, and maybe even add that into my career choice. I would love to have a creative shop that utilizes my love for the rustic farmhouse style. We've been watching Fixer Upper on HGTV and I am so inspired by what Joanna Gaines does. In love her style and her farm and shop. I will be looking at her blog for ideas and inspiration! Being a homesteader also makes me think of eating healthy and home cooked meals. Yesterday, as we do every Saturday, we spent the day at our town's farmers market. I tried mujadara from the Lebanese vendor, and it was so delicious. Today, we spent time going to Todd Farm, a local antique/flea market and Tendercrop farm which was just down the road from Todd Farm. At Tendercrop farm, we bought some grass fed local steaks and ground beef. The meat was absolutely delicious. I was also inspired to attempt to make my version of mujadara. It was great to eat great tasting home cooked food that was inspired by our farmer's market. I am trying to remember how nice it is to eat home cooked meals when I am uninspired, and I need to spend some time looking for inspiration so that we eat at home more often instead of mating someone else to cook for me. I am hoping that, one day, my design loves, my idea of being a homesteader, and my other passions with become part of my professional career. I do like being a social worker, but I really want to do something more fun and creative and less medical or regulated! Happy dreaming, Amy

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Summer Life

It's officially the first week of summer. The kids are finally out of school, while at least for a week. July 6th, the kids go back to school 4 days a week for 6 weeks. I'm really happy that they get to have summer school at such a young age to help them maintain what they have learned through their year in school. I think it will help them have a better start to the school year in the fall. That being said, summer is a time to have fun and enjoy some time away from the hectic pace of the school year. Unfortunately, I have to continue to work, but I am going to continue to work part time so that we can have some family fun. I am hoping that we can take some time and enjoy some time hiking and spending time outside with family and friends. I am also hopeful that we can get to the beach and enjoy the water. I think this may be the summer that we get the kids out kayaking. I want to make sure that we expose our kids to spending time outside in nature and enjoy everything that our earth has given us. This winter, we started taking the kids snowshoeing. We all had fun and got outside in one of the worst winters we have seen in a while. Now it's time to share our summer activities, even though we have started taking them hiking and camping a couple of years ago and plan to continue that for the years to come. With summer hopefully in full swing, we have started planting our garden. We have most of our tomato plants and our pepper plants in the garden. We have what seems like a good growth of salad, and we had a good start to our peas, but they got eaten by bunnies. My husband took time and fixed our fence that got damaged this winter, so hopefully that will help us keep the animals out and our veggies in. We have also planted seeds for cucumbers and luffa plants. I just bought a container blueberry and raspberry plant. I am looking forward to being able to go out and pick berries as we need or want them. I need to get back to the local nursery and pick up a couple of eggplant plants as well as some potato plants (I have purple potato seeds prepared for planting) and get our squash and kale/Swiss chard plants going. I really want to get away from eating predominantly meat and start eating a lot more green veggies. I really want to start following through with my diet goals and my creative goals in life. I need to start eating clean and spending time being creative. I need to continue to get my life organized and get rid of things that I don't need. The sad thing is, I know what I need to do, I just need to get motivated to do it. I am hoping that eating a clean diet with less processed foods, less starchy carbs, more green leafy veggies and lean protein (including beans), and way less sugar. In our society, it is so difficult to eat clean and healthy. There are so many reasons and justifications to make you feel better about eating processed junk food. I truly believe, once you get your body free of processed foods, you will succeed in living a clean natural life. Its not easy to rid your body of these foods, but it is something that I continue to try to work on. I also want to work on my goal of learning about herbs, natural medicine, and essential oils. I am hoping to share some of my challenges and hopefully more success as I go along. This is something that I continue to work tirelessly on and something that I will always work on. Here's to living a handmade and natural life and enjoying the process of getting there. Amy

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Handmade and Natural Health

As I've written often, I continue to seek out my true way in life. I continue to want to focus on living a handmade and natural life, but it has not been easy. I continue to love being creative, sewing and other fiber arts as well as paper crafts and photography. I continue to want to learn about herbs, aromatherapy, and natural remedies. I want to have a life that is more natural and healthy. My lifestyle, currently, is no where near where I want to be. I have a crazy amount of stuff that I really need to get rid of or find a place for. I'm thinking that my lack of organization is big part of why I am not living the life I want. I am hoping to get more organized then attempt to get more focused on my goals in life. That being said, I am going to work on getting more organized. I am going to get back to basics (as I have often said) and start working on living life the way I want to. I am going to get my garden going. I am going to work on having a suburban homestead, where I can hopefully start living off my land within my means. I don't and won't have animals anytime soon, but I have a nice large garden and want to make sure I use it appropriately. I have plenty of crafts supplies to be able to continue being creative. One thing I have forgotten about for a long time, is my love of natural health and remedies. I really want to learn about herbs and essential oils. I want to grow my own herbal medicine garden. I want a herbal garden to be a huge part of my suburban homestead. I want to have a real suburban homestead. I want to eat healthy, natural foods. I want to be creative and sew and knit, and crochet. I need to take some time away from the web, from Facebook, and unplug. Life is too short to be addicted to technology and TV. Summer is here and I want and need to spend good quality outside fun with my family and continue to do even when the weather gets cold. I will continue to blog about my experience in suburban homesteading and what I learn while doing so. I am hopeful that I can get back to following my beliefs and my passions as I live my life. I am hoping that some day, I'll find my way and figure out how to be happy living my life. I have so much happiness already, I just need to make sure that I am following my passions and dreams while being with and loving my family and loving life. Love, Amy

Sunday, March 15, 2015


I live in town just north of Boston Massachusetts. It's not a rural community and it's not a city either. My goal this year is to learn about and start homesteading. I keep trying to figure out what direction to take this blog and my life. I initially started this blog after going to farmers markets almost 6 years ago. I had already been interested in natural health, so this blog was really just an extension of what I had already been interested in. I am looking to live a more handmade and natural life, but yet I don't want to beat myself up when I can't or when in the moment, I don't want to. My ultimate goal is to learn how to use my garden to my advantage and learn how to save, store, and can veggies from my garden, so that I can enjoy my efforts into the winter. It will take some time, but I will research and learn how best to use my garden after the summer has passed. I want to get a blueberry and a raspberry bush that can be grown in containers. My thought with this is, I don't have to find the right place to plant them and we can enjoy them all summer. When the cold weather comes, you are supposed to be able to move them to a sheltered place and they will last through the winter. My kids love berries and it would be awesome to have them just pick them off the bush when ever they wanted them. I also need to get a strawberry plant because we are a house that loves strawberries. Again, I want to make and can my own jellies and jams. I would love to get a chicken or two and have my own eggs. I think my husband thinks I'm a nut with wanting chickens, but how nice would it be to go to your back yard and get eggs when you need them? I think it would be awesome! I just don't feel like I know enough yet, but I want to learn! On to researching all sorts of things, canning, storing food, chickens, homesteading and many others! Amy

Monday, March 9, 2015


I've been drinking KeVita for the last few days and am loving it. What I'm not loving is the $3.50 a bottle. Kevita is a probiotic drink that is helping to keep me away from soda. I'm not positive, but I believe it is basically water kefir, which I have brewed at home in the past. I stupidly let it lapse and let my water kefir grains die. Today, I drank kombucha, which is fermented tea. You brew it by using a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) also called a kombucha mother. You can buy a "mother" or you can try to grow one yourself (I have in the past grown my own SCOBY but I recently read that you can't grow a SCOBY on your own any more). I figured, It's $3.50 to try it again. If it works great, if not, little lost. Tonight I started the process. I brewed a cup of green tea and added 2 tablespoons of sugar. Once it got to room temperature, I added a bottle of store bought kombucha and added it to the tea. I read that if there is what looks like a "mother" floating in the store bought kombucha, then there is a better chance of growing your own. I was hoping to find a picture of my home grown SCOBY, but I can't put my finger on it now. I'm hopeful that it will grow again. My next thing is to buy some more water kefir grains and start some water kefir again. I am looking forward to that. I also want to buy the book wild fermentation. I have made my own sour dough starter in the past and want to start again. I'm looking forward to creating my own foods and can't wait to get my plants started and my garden growing! Here's to goof healthy food and a healthy lifestyle! Amy
Here's a couple of pictures from my garden last year!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Just A Quick Post

Today was day 5 of my 21 day sugar detox. Things have bee going ok except that today was my oldest's 7th birthday. I ate potatoes, BBQ sauce, a roll, and cake. After my bagel Friday, I should really start day 1 tomorrow. One thing I am learning is not to feel guilty because of these set backs. Life happens, and I wasn't going to not have cake with my child. What changed though, was that I had 1 roll,1/2 the potatoes, 2 ribs, and a small piece of cake, as well as a 6oz sirloin and Caesar salad. Previously, I would have had more like 4 rolls and a huge piece of cake, I would also have had loaded fries vs loaded mashed potato. Not a huge difference in the potato choices, but at least it was only 1/2 of it. This needs to be a lifestyle change for me. I need to be healthy. Tomorrow, we are having salmon. I'm not a huge fish fan, but I'm trying to be better at eating heartily fish. I just need to keep moving forward with my journey to be healthier. Another piece to this journey is making sure that I am eating mindfully. I want to make sure that what I put in my mouth is really what I want. I want to stop mindless eating. Overall, I want to look at food as fuel for my body, as a way to keep me running for many, many years! Here's to living a healthy, happy, and long life. Amy

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Sugar Detox

So, here it is, day 4 of my 21 day sugar detox and I have had some huge ups and some huge downs. Day 1 was easy and I thought, I can do this no problem. Well, then came day 2, and that did not go as well. I was angry, and had a headache as well as no patience. All I wanted was some starchy carbs and sugar. I persisted and didn't give in. I did try to make some approved biscuits, and yes it did help but they were not really what I wanted. Day 3 came and went but I did give in and I had a bagel and a Hershey kiss. Not happy that I gave in, but I did get right back on track and ate what I was supposed to for the rest of the day. On to today, day 4, and I've done really well. I've lost a little weight, probably 3-4 pounds since I first started and maybe 10 pounds from my highest weight. I still need to lose a good amount of weight, but I want to do it the right way and maintain what I lose. I want to continue to make lifestyle changes and not just changes to lose weight. Another positive to this diet change and maybe even weight loss is my nightly breathing. My husband has mentioned, especially when I was pregnant, that my snoring was awful and I would have issues with sleep apnea. Now I am overweight but not crazy overweight. I think it's more the foods I'm eating or should I saw not eating that is making the difference. He said that things have been much better. I am heading out tonight to buy a bought from deliciously organic. I think I am going to plan on staying mostly grain-free. I have heard from a lot of people that being grain free is very beneficial. I am seeing a lot of benefits, just in the last few days, which makes me want to continue. I also want to live a healthy lifestyle with clean eating, less processed foods, and local foods (preferably from my backyard). I still want to include creativity in my life, including crafts, gardening, as well as cooking. I'll be trying out a new recipe for bread with coconut flour as well as almond flour. Trying new recipes is always fun and creative. Like I said in my last post, with spring coming, I want to clean out stuff and get more organized. I am hoping that this diet change is going to help with my energy and clear headedness, which will help me with getting organized. I am hopeful, that with an organized life, I will have more time to be creative and also add some exercise into my life. Wish me luck on continuing my new way of life! Amy Sprouts and microgreens Latest mandala Curry turkey meatballs from

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Figuring Out Who I Am

This winter has been a weird one. It started out pretty mild, the February hit and it has almost been the slowest winter. Though it has been cold and snowy, this is the first winter that I have not hated. Believe me, I am ready for spring, but I am dealing with the winter much better this year. I even, at times, wish we could move to Maine instead of thinking about moving South. With Spring on it's way, and the rebirth of life and energy, with longer days, and increased warmth to the days, I am taking this time to do some soul searching and taking some time to figure out who I am and what I need. I am looking at spring as a time for me to make changes in my life and as a time for me to reduce the clutter in my life and start fresh, or rebirth myself into the person I want to be. How do I plan on doing this? First, I am starting a 21 day sugar cleanse tomorrow. Second, I will be going through my belongings and looking to see what I can reduce, either by donating or by trashing/recycling. Third, I will be spending time getting organized so that my life is not the caps that I have been living (no ones fault but my own). Fourth, I will be increasing (ok actually doing) exercise. Finally, though this process, I am hoping to become more aware of me and who I am and what I want out of my life. I love my life! I love being married and having kids. I don't like what I look like or the amount of time I spend on the computer. I don't like how lazy I have become. I don't like how crappy I eat sometimes. I don't like how cluttered my life has become or how disorganized I am. These are the changes I want to make. I want to look in the mirror and be happy with who I am. I know that if I'm healthy and I get moving, I'll be happy with me. I will start moving and feeling better and stronger. I will spend less time on the computer and Facebook and more time with my family and actually be creative. I will get rid of clutter and get myself organized. With doing the sugar detox, I am hoping that my head will clear. I am hoping that I will be able to follow through with things and do what I need to do. I will be sharing my 21 day detox here, the good, the bad , and the ugly. I will share the foods I eat and how I feel while decoding. I'm not going to give up my coffee, but I am going to limit it and try to decrease the amount of cream in my coffee. I think eating clean, eating less sugar, and eating less foods that turn to sugar is going to me, my body, and my spirit loads of good! Amy

Sunday, March 1, 2015


For the last few weeks, even months, I keep thinking about food, diet, nutrition as well as creativity, gardening, and other alternative/complementary health practices. With regards to my diet and my philosophy regarding diets, I think the biggest thing that I want to follow is clean eating. I plan to work at following the Palo diet, but I really want to eat clean. I am not against eating beans and grains, and even some dairy. I am also not against eating junk food once in a while. What I am against is beating myself up and judging myself when I don't follow my beliefs to the exact letter of the law. I am involved in a Facebook group about eating real food, and recently, there was a post about moderation and how moderation is not something that they would even think of. They were talking about how there is no such thing as eating healthy most of the time, but eating junk in moderation. Well, for me, that is not even something I could or would ever consider except for a short time. I would consider being extremely serious and focused if I were to do an elimination diet, or maybe a detox diet. With regards to my diet, I would be in a horrible position if I were to never eat anything bad for me. I think, at least for me, if I never had anything "bad" for me I would end up binge eating junk instead of allowing myself to eat a small amount and enjoy it, but then get back to eating healthy. I think, especially as women, we tend to beat ourselves up and have all sorts of negatives voices in our heads when we think we have done something wrong. I think its time to stop beating ourselves up when we "stray" and start enjoying life. It's important to be healthy and eat good nutrition foods, but it's also important to be good to yourself and enjoy life. Eating healthy and eating a good diet is important, but so is keeping your mind and spirit healthy too. I certainly need to focus more on keeping my mind and spirit healthy as well as my body. More recently, I have been looking and thinking, and talking about my diet, but I've kind of forgotten about my other passions. With the crazy winter we've had, I've somewhat forgotten about how I love to be in the dirt in my garden. I can't wait to get out there and get growing again. That will certainly help with my eating as well saw my budget. I also haven't been sewing or crafting or drawing like I want to. I also want to start meditating or even doing yoga as well as exercising with cardio and strength training. I am going to continue to work on my diet and continue to try to eat healthy. I am going to start making time to be creative. I need to make a point to be active and exercise. I also want to make a point to get outside and enjoy being outside and not stuck in the house. I know that I will make small changes and probably need to take one step forward and sometimes take 2 back, but I will continue to move forward without beating myself up. I chose to make this for dinner tonight. It was curry turkey meatballs from It was so good and really easy.
My last creative project
These are my goals and my plans! Amy

Sunday, February 22, 2015

My Journey

Now that I have decided on a path that I want to take my career, I figure I should start my own journey towards health and document it. Not that I haven't attempted this journey before and I even tried to document a whole new blog towards my health journey, but I think I am an a better place to move forward on this new health path that I have chosen and document it here and as well as document my creative attempts. Since this blog is meant to be about the balance of living a handmade and natural life, it is the perfect place to document both. This journey is going to be at least two fold. It will consist of me journey toward bettering my own health as well as my learning how to help others on their journey. I'm sure that my experience will help me understand what others may go through when they make the journey toward better health. I know that I am going to face issues with food addiction, stress, frustration, trying to get my family to eat healthier, and I'm sure others that I'm not even aware of right now. My journey is going to be eating a clean diet. I am not going too count calorie, points, fat grams, etc. I am going to eat fresh, home cooked, non processed meals and snacks. I am going to increase my daily movement. I am going to decrease and maybe even eliminate gluten, dairy, and sugar. I need to eliminate soda and artificial sweeteners and increase my water consumption. I am not prepared to share my starting weight, but suffice it to say, I need to lose about 20-30 pounds before I am happy with my weight. I am going to try not to focus too much on my actual weight, but it is a way to measure my progress. I'd like to be able to come to terms with the fact that I am almost 42 and will never be 120 pounds like I was when I was 20. I don't even want to be that skinny. I want to be comfortable in my own skin. I want to look at myself and see a healthy strong woman. I am going to start being more adventurous with my cooking ands creating my own recipes. This weekend, I make a mix of asparagus, spinach, peppers, and garlic cooked in butter and coconut oil with a touch of lemon juice added at the end. It was really good different than the basic greens and olive oil and garlic that I usually make, but not too crazy. I am really looking forward to this journey. I can't wait to be able to feel healthier and stronger. I hope that sharing this journey helps others to start on their own journey towards health and wellness. With this focus on food and exercise, I will not be forgetting the creative piece of my life. I want to make sure that I follow all my dreams and passions, both personally and professionally. Welcome to my journey! Amy

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Diets, Nutrition, and Gardeing

For a while now, I have been thinking and rethinking my passions, thinking about this blog and why I started it. I honestly am passionate about living a handmade and natural life, but also a balanced life. If I remember correctly, I started this blog about 5 1/2 years ago when the kids were just babies and we started going to farmer's markets with them. I thought back then, at probably 36 years old, that I was going through a midlife crisis. I think I have slowly been going through one, because now at almost 42, I am still questioning my life and what I want out of it, and how to go about getting it. I know I do want to change the focus of my social work career. I would love to do something with food and food related issues. I, almost constantly think about food, diet, and nutrition and how it relates in my life as well as others lives. I think about what is the best diet to follow for me and my family. As much as I hate to admit it, I sometimes even think about what fad diet, low calorie diet I can eat to just lose weight. I then come back and remind myself, I don't need a crazy fad diet, I need a lifestyle change. With that thought that I need a lifestyle change, I think more about what type of foods I should be eating and how best to afford those foods. When I think about how best to afford them and how best to be able to prepare them, I think about how difficult it must be for some people to be able to afford to actually purchase healthy foods as well as have the time to prepare them. I am lucky enough that I have the time to plan, buy, and cook healthy foods. I also have the money to buy decent quality food, but I wish I could afford to buy better quality foods. I also have space and time to have an actual backyard garden. When I think about what type of lifestyle diet change, I have thought about becoming vegan, going completely gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, eating a Palo diet, eating a clean food diet, and I'm sure there are many other diets that I have looked at. As I think about it, I think the best think to do is to eat a clean diet. I am almost sure that the lifestyle diet I plan to follow for myself is to eat clean. I don't think that meat is evil, but I do think that there is easily too much meat in most people's every day diet. I don't think that legumes are evil like some proponents of the Palo diet promote. I do think that gluten, some dairy and most sugar are not a good thing for most people. I think that t eh best thing people can do it to eat the least processed natural foods that one can find. One of the best things I have heard, is to eat foods that your grandparents would know or eat only foods that you are able to pronounce. I want to continue to work on making my garden the best it can be. I want to be able to walk out into my back yard and pick my produce. I would love to be able to walk into my backyard and get eggs from my own backyard chickens. I want to be able to have my children pick berries from pants in our backyard instead of having to but berries packed in plastic bins from the grocery store. I want to be able to go to my herb garden and flavor my food. I want to go to my flower garden and pick flowers for my house. I want to eat foods that are not processed at all prior to me cooking them. My ultimate goal is to eat mostly green veggies, limit my intake of starchy carbs, get rid of gluten, eat good healthy dairy, limit my meat intake so that I can afford to by good quality grass fed meat. I think that legumes are a good thing for our bodies, at least for me. I want to also look at eating foods in it's natural state, meaning eating some raw foods, but I don't think that a raw diet is the only way to eat, but it is important to have raw foods in our diet. I want to learn about the different types of diets out there so that I can make good choices, so that maybe I can educate others on how to be healthy. As I have thought about this, I have also thought about how to reach people who have limited access to good healthy food. I have thought about people who have limited access to education about healthy foods. I have thought how people don't have the time or the knowledge how to create tasty healthy food. I want to reach these people, especially kids and help them with how to do this. To do this, I need to make changes in my own life. I need to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. I want to find a way to use my social work degree to reach these people. I want to try to make change. I want to work directly 1:1 with people, but I also want to make more systemic changes. I don't know that I can do this on my own, but I know I can do it with support from other like minded people. I want to work with other like minded people, but I'm not sure where to turn. My first goal is to start eating clean foods 99% of the time. I don't want to be a crazy obsessive person who can't allow myself or my family a treat once in a while. I want to start my garden, even though it is still winter here in MA and we still have feet of snow in our yards. I am going to start plants in my basement under grow lights. I am not going to buy breads and sugars because my family and I can't seem to stop eating it when it's around. I am going to buy the healthy foods and start looking at things in a more positive light, not in a way that is negative or punitive. I am going to look at the different foods I can have and how I can really make them enjoyable. I need to take time and really enjoy my food, not just stuff food down my throat to take care of the hunger in my stomach. I am going to learn to listen to my body and eat what it truly needs, not the junk that I think it is telling me it needs. Today was a good start, but a not so good middle, and an ok ending. I have a green smoothie for breakfast, but then went to a family party and ate junk. I never sat down with a plate of food and took time to enjoy what I was eating. I stood up and picked at different foods the whole time I was there. I then went home and didn't give in to the crappy cravings that I was having. I didn't continue to eating junk and crap and say I'll start tomorrow, which never come. I am restarting my healthy eating now, not tomorrow, not Monday after the weekend is over. Happy eating and living the handmade and natural life, Amy Fratto, LICSW

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Changing Careers

I met with my friend Holly this afternoon and we talked about how I am thinking about changing careers, or at least changing the focus of my social work career. I was thinking that I needed to go back to school and get another degree, but after talking to my friend, I am thinking that I just need to do a lot of reading and research and get myself educated on different diet philosophies. I think my social work background is totally going o help. I've been trying to think of a way to focus my social work career away from nursing homes and the medical field, now I just need to make the change. I think my biggest focus is going to be clean eating. I have been trying to figure out what is the best diet for me and my family. I have thought about being Palo, vegan, vegetarian, and so many others, but what I am thinking is a mix of different diets. I really want to learn the ins and outs of eat diet and learn how they work in the real world. In generally, my thinking is that a balanced diet including meat, veggies, raw foods with limits to dairy, sugar, and starchy carbs. I tend to shop the outer perimeter of grocery stores already and I truly believe that is the best place to start. As I learn more and start making changes, I will share things here. I want to make changes in my life as well as help others learn to make changes in their life. I am hoping to start to be more adventurous when it comes to figuring out new recipes and ideas to make for my family. I would love to start my own therapy business with the focus on food and healthy eating, but I think I may need to initially start out working for someone to learn more, but maybe not. I'm still in the beginning phases of figuring it all out, but at least I have a small plan. I'd like to also teach people about gardening and where their food really comes from. In grad school, I helped to write a grant to get inner city kids to gardens so that they could learn what whole foods are and where real food comes from. I loved watching Jamie Oliver teach people about cooking their own food and learning what real food is. Now on to research different diet philosophies and clean eating! Amy

Looking Forward

I made an appointment with a friend to talk to her and pick her brain about health coaching.  I have decided.that I really need a break from the medical field and I need to follow my passion regarding more natural health and natural medicine. I just can't continue to work with people who blindly follow the medical field without questioning it. There is a time and place for a highly medical team, and I am truly grateful to live so close to Boston hospitals.  I am also grateful that I live where alternative and natural medicine is practiced.

My goal and passion continues to be natural health, living a natural lifestyle, and making sure creativity is a part of my life and others lives. I need to find a way to make this dream a reality and not just a dream. I'm thinking a vision board is one of the next projects that I need to work on!

Here's to moving towards your dreams, goals, and passions,


Wednesday, February 11, 2015


This year, I am having a love hate relationship with winter. I have to admit, hate is a strong word this winter. Even though we have gotten a crazy amount of snow in the last 3 week, I am not hating this winter. I am just really ready to start my garden. This weekend, we went out and bought snow shoes for the kids. I think that one of the reasons this winter isn't so bad, is because we can do more with the kids and they can get out by themselves. I don't feel as trapped in the house, so my mood is greatly improved over the last couple of winters, like 7 winters. I was sick this weekend and decided that it would be a good time to make some headway on changing my eating habits. I went grocery shopping and consulted a vegan friend about resources for going vegan. A few years ago I started the process and was enjoying it, but gave up because I thought it was too difficult to do with the kids (they are so very picky). I am planning on moving towards eating a vegan diet. This time I am going to go slow. I will probably cut out red meat first, and then move on to cutting out poultry and pork, and then move on to dairy. I'm not a fish eater, so that will be east to cut out. Dairy is going to be more difficult. While I was shopping, and buying good food, I decided to go to Whole Foods, one of my favorite stores. I feel so healthy when I shop there. I know it's probably not the best store to shop at, but I really like it, I just hate that it's so expensive. While I was shopping and trying to triage what I should buy there, so I didn't spend crazy seamount of money, I decided to treat myself to a couple of books. I got "Grow Cook Eat", which I have been wanting since last summer, and "50 Shades of kale". "Grow Cook Eat" is really inspiring me to get my garden planned and start planting seeds to be ready for when it's time to plant outside. I am trying to be better at planning this year and actually plant things correctly. I'm not sure if it's partially due to the winter blues, which I'm not sure that I feel like I have this year, but I am really feeling like I need a new job. It's to the point where I am really having to stop myself from being anxious at night about my current job. The biggest issue is that I want a job I really want, not just a job. I would love to do something health oriented, not medical oriented. I have decided to really start investigating this, but I'm not sure if I can find anything that will fit my schedule. I need to figure out how to do it on my own and make money. I may need to talk to a friend of mine about becoming a health coach and how she did it. It's something I've been thinking about for a while, but haven't made a move towards it. Here's some of my latest creations and activities that I've been working on to keep myself from busy in this weather. I'm really not hating winter, but I am ready to move on from more snow. I love New England, and even though I have been saying I want to move, I don't think I ever will. Happy winter Amy

Monday, February 2, 2015

New Year, New Goals ( or same goals but just a re-focus)

It's February 2, 2015 and here, just north of Boston, we are having our 3rd snowstorm in just over a week. The first one was minimal, the second one was a blizzard, and this one is just a long storm that is giving us way more snow than I expected. I have to admit that I am not hating the snow, but now that it is February, I am looking forward to spring coming. I'm ready for warmer sunny weather, flowers, bright days and everything new that Spring brings with it. With this this weather, I have been reading Facebook. One of my friends posted about growing scallions on her windowsill. It really motivated me to start thinking seriously about my garden, both flower and veggie. There was some talk about growing potatoes inside and she mentioned how she had potatoes growing in her basement. She has a blog post about it at her blog Journey Toward Simplicity (, I just haven't had a chance to read it yet. After writing this, I am on my way to reading her post. I have also been doing lots of thinking about my career, at this point in my life, and where I want to take it. I've written before about needing to refocus my career goals, but I still haven't figured out how to move forward with my goals. If I had more money, there wouldn't really be an issue. I would love to learn more about nutrition, gardening, and creating and how it all pertains to your mind, body and spirit. I would love to have a place for people to go with a creative arts studio, a kitchen and an outdoor gardening spot. I have an idea in my head, but it would take money I don't have an not sure if I ever will. I want a place where people can come and relax, learn about health and nutrition, and learn about things like yoga, meditation, and things like that. This will remain a goal for the future if I ever have the resources to do it, but for now, I will have to think of something else. One of the reasons why I was inspired to write this blog post is to re-energize myself and remind myself of my beliefs. With the superbowl this weekend, I bought a lot of processed foods that I am trying to get away from. Now that the superbowl is over, I need to get back to my goal of eating clean. I also want to start growing some plants in my basement. I had wanted to start earlier than this, but I haven't yet. I would love to get a couple of chickens, but I'm not sure that will happen this year. I want to start making my own foods instead of buying things like yogurt at the store. I'm sure I will still eat out, but I am going to try to limit that. If I do eat out, I want to make sure that I make good choices. I want to start eating less meat. I'm not sure I still have the goal to be a complete vegetarian or a complete vegan, But I want and need to neat more veggies, less meat, more non-animal protein, less starchy carbs, less sugar, and limited dairy. I need to start meditating more and doing yoga and even start running as well as some core exercises. I need to get my body moving and strong. This will help with getting my mind and body into a good place. As well as getting my body back in shape, I want and need to get my mind active and relaxed. I am hoping that I can use creativity for this as well as exercise. I'd really been enjoying my bird feeders at my windows and finally got a cardinal at the window for the first time (at least that I have seen) the other day. I need to start doing better at getting off Facebook and other social media and start spending more time doing things instead of just reading about things. I'm ok with spending time online researching things, but I need to start doing! I need to get my butt outside and enjoy being outside; in my backyard, on a hike, going for a walk, and other things like that. I want to enjoy my garden and my bird feeders. I am also going to try to get involved in a community garden project that my town is trying to start.
I wish I could find a job that I could use my love of natural health, creativity, and healthy eating. I have been using my own handmade soap, my own handmade deodorant, my own toothpaste, all using coconut oil as the main ingredient. I have started using coconut oil in my coffee and am loving it. I need to find more ways of making my own things. My next goal is to make my own laundry detergent. I've made it in the past, but I didn't like the recipe I used. I'm going to look St my friend Jenny's blog, and see what I can learn from her. She inspires me to continue on my journey to living the life I want to live. Amy

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!!!

Good-bye 2014, and welcome 2015! Thankfully, unlike some of my friends, 2014 wasn't a bad year. My big accomplishment was testing and passing my LICSW test. This was a huge accomplishment and one of my major goals that I had set for myself. Another thing that I started was the 100 mandala challenge. I am loving creating these different mandalas. I finally learned what the zentangle method is. Since starting this blog more than 5 years ago, I have been trying to live a healthier, more natural, handmade life. I have had some ups and downs while I've been working on that. As much as I hate to admit it, there have been more downs than ups, but that is going to change this year. With the start of 2015, I am planning on putting forward my intentions for the new year and beyond. I am not going to make resolutions. I think using the word intention sets you in a better frame of mind and is a more positive way to embrace change. Within the 100 mandala challenge, I am also choosing a word of the year. I am hoping that my word/s of the year will help me with my intentions. Without further ado, here are my intentions for 2015: 1.) My word/s of the year are balance and passion: I intend to figure out my passions and how to follow them both personally and professionally. I think I know what they are and I will write more further down, I also want to have balance in my life, again, both personally and professionally. 2.) I intend to continue to create mandalas and go beyond 100. Creating these mandalas is my form of meditation. Along with creating my own mandalas, I want to learn more about the practice of mandalas. 3.) I have decided to join a 100 days of real food challenge. I intend to get rid of the processed foods that I still have in my life. One of the goals that I had when I started this blog was to eat healthier and more natural foods. I have had some great moments and some really not great moments. I intend to learn more about how foods affect out mind/body/spirit as well as taste good and also how our food and how its gown/raised affects our environment. I want to see if there is a way to use food in my professional career as a social worker. 4.) I intend to treat my body the way it deserves to be treated. I intend to start looking at my body as a whole and look at it from the mind/body/spirit connection. 5.) I intend to make being creative a priority. One of my friends started a Facebook group called "make art everyday" and asked me to join in it. I intend to make time every day to be creative and make something handmade. My intentions for 2015 follow along with my intentions of this blog. I am hoping that I 2015 will be the year that I start making changes and start following through with what I see as my life goals and dreams. I plan to share what I learn about food, mandalas, creativity and the mind/body/spirit connection, and my journey through this year. Amy