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