Sunday, September 29, 2013

"When we plant trees, we plant the seeds of peace and hope"

Today at work we planted an 'Autumn Splendor' Horse Chestnut tree in memory of Dr. Wangari Maathai as part of our summer camp program at work.  Dr. Maathai passed away at the age of 71 two years ago on September 25.  She is no longer with us, but her memory lives on in her organization, the Green Belt Movement, and in the actions of those she inspired.  Wangari Maathai was an environmentalist and was the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.  She did a very simple thing, she planted trees and she encouraged others to do the same.  She said "When we plant trees, we plant the seeds of peace and hope."  This summer the children who came to camp learned about Wangari Maathai's message to plant trees and voted on what tree we would plant in her honor.  Wangari showed us that anyone, even the smallest amongst us, can make a difference, simply by planting a tree.  

Photograph taken by Kenneth Brunson

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Apple Taste Test + Baked Apples with Pumpkin Ice Cream

Kenneth and I finally found time to taste test all of those apples I bought a while ago!  I chopped each apple up and Kenneth took down notes on what we thought of them.  Turns out, I have two favorite apples (at least of the ten varieties we tried): Braeburn and Gala apples.  Kenneth also liked the Braeburn and Gala, but his favorite has been Honeycrisp for a long time.

Friday, September 27, 2013


Ohio Pawpaw Festival - Lake Snowden

The Ohio Pawpaw Festival is a three day celebration of all things pawpaw!  This year was the 15th year for the annual south-eastern Ohio festival.  I went to my first pawpaw festival in 2007 when I was a student at Ohio University and have made it back for several festivals in between that first year and the 2013 festival.  I've written a little bit about the pawpaw on my blog before (click here, here and here for some of my pawpaw photography).

The pawpaw is a tree native to Ohio with a very unique fruit (also the largest fruit native to the U.S.)!  The fruit, which is soft like a custard (or pudding) tastes like a combination of banana, mango and vanilla.  This fruit is unique and unfamiliar to Americans today because the pawpaw tree (Asimina triloba) belongs to the tropical plant family Annonaceae, the majority of the plants in this family are found in the tropics, like soursop, custard-apple and cherimoya.  The fruit is also highly perishable and more likely to be found on a hike in the woods than at your local grocery store (though you can find it some farmers' markets!)  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Autumn is a king's progress

I walk in your world
a mercy, a healing - 

Like a cooper of barrels
you bind the mountains with ribbing
your hand rests on rambunctious seas
they grow peaceful
     the brow of a sleeping child

Autumn is a king's progress
     largesse lies ripe on the land

up, down the furrow your midas touch
rains gold;
     rainbows are from your glance

Fall of rain, evenfall, all all is blessing!

Daniel Berrigan from the book Earth Prayers From around the World: 365 Prayers, Poems, and Invocations for Honoring the Earth

Piqua Heritage Festival - Johnston Farm & Indian Agency

Food Booths, Antique Tractors and some of the Demonstration Booths.
The Piqua Heritage Festival is my favorite event held in my hometown of Piqua, Ohio.  The festival began in 1981 and is a family friendly celebration of Piqua history, local food and crafts.  The festival includes a variety of entertainment, music, children's crafts and games and a pre-1870s encampment.  While attending the festival, you can also visit the Johnston Farm & Indian Agency, located just off of the festival grounds.   If you watch Parks and Recreation on NBC, the Heritage Festival is a lot like the Pawnee Harvest Festival, minus Li'l Sebastian and Leslie Knope!

I'm including a review of the festival on my blog because while Piqua is not in Central Ohio, it's an easy hour and a half drive from the Capital City and is definitely worth the trip!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad + Recipe

I had a salad like this last week from the café at work and loved it!  I tried to recreate it at home tonight, it's a simplified version with fewer ingredients than the original.  The hardest part was cutting up three pounds of sweet potatoes, but now we have plenty of leftovers!

This is the basic recipe, you can increase ingredients, add new ones or take away according to your taste preference. The original was very spicy, my version is not very spicy (my eyes water when I eat medium-hot salsa!) at all.  I enjoyed it warm for dinner, it should be just as delicious served hot or cold!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Emma Fox Fitness

If Emma were a fitness instructor she'd be the kind that yell at you, not in a mean way, but in a motivational way. She'd inspire you to give it your all, to really push past the negative thoughts in your head and see what your body is capable of!

At least, that's what I think she'd do.  What she actually does is sits behind our hand weights while giving me intense "What are you looking at?" stares, or tries to trip me up when I go from downward dog to a lunge pose in yoga.  She's quite the fitness fanatic, this cat.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Happy Fall Equinox!

While flipping through my copy of the book Earth Prayers this evening, I came across an old post it note on a poem about Autumn.  When I was in my yoga teaching training several years ago, the trainees would take turns with different segments of a class our instructor was teaching.  During one of the meditative sequences I led, I read this poem by Edward Hays:

O sacred season of Autumn, be my teacher, 
     for I wish to learn the virtue of contentment. 
As I gaze upon your full-colored beauty, 
     I sense all about you 
     an at-homeness with your amber riches. 

You are the season of retirement, 
     of full barns and harvested fields. 
The cycle of growth has ceased, 
     and the busy work of giving life 
     is now completed. 
I sense in you no regrets: 
     you've lived a full life. 

I live in a society that is ever-restless, 
     always eager for more mountains to climb, 
     seeking of happiness through more and more possessions. 
As a child of my culture, 
     I am seldom truly at peace with what I have. 
Teach me to take stock of what I have given and received; 
     may I know that it's enough, 
     that my striving can cease 
     in the abundance of God's grace. 
May I know contentment 
     that allows the totality of my energies 
     to come to full flower. 

May I know that, like you, I am rich beyond measure. 

As you, O Autumn, take pleasure in your great bounty, 
     let me also take delight 
     in the abundance of the simple things in life 
     which are the true source of joy. 
With the golden glow of peaceful contentment 
     may I truly appreciate this autumn day.

Edward Hays from the book Earth Prayers From around the World: 365 Prayers, Poems, and Invocations for Honoring the Earth

I finished the class by telling the students this: As you go about your day to day, getting caught up in busy schedules and commitments, remember to come back to this place of peace and contentment that you have created within yourself.  Carry it with you!

I hope you enjoy this beautiful season, wherever you find yourself and whatever you are doing.

Yoga Class with Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman-Yee - Yoga on High

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to take a yoga class taught by well known yoga instructors, Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman-Yee through the Columbus yoga studio, Yoga on High.  This was the fourth year the couple has offered this class in Columbus and the second time I have attended.  

Saturday, September 21, 2013

My soul is heavy with sunshine...

The sun has climbed the hill, the day is on the
     downward slope.
Between the morning and the afternoon, stand I here:
     with my soul, and lift it up.
My soul is heavy with sunshine, and steeped with
The sunbeams have filled me like a honeycomb,
It is the moment of fulness,
And the top of the morning.

D.H. Lawrence from the book Earth Prayers From around the World: 365 Prayers, Poems, and Invocations for Honoring the Earth

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fall - In a Box!

Pumpkin treats from Cherbourg Bakery!  These delicious, gluten-free pumpkin donuts and pumpkin chocolate chip bars are my first pumpkin flavored treats from my favorite bakery!

We've been Pumpkin Feastin' for eighteen days now and Fall doesn't even officially start for two more!  I know some people dislike the taste of pumpkin, or just get tired of it after every other food item is "pumpkin-ized," but I don't!  I love it!  

I'm keeping a list of all the pumpkin foods we eat during Pumpkin Feast (which I see as running from about September to February... which is totally reasonable if you ignore that it goes through the end of summer, all of fall and half of winter!).  I'll share the list on the blog with my last post about Pumpkin Feast!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Westerville Mini Golf

I have not been putt putt or mini golfing in many, many years.  So many, I don't remember the last time I've been!  It was probably while on vacation with my family when my sister and I were a lot younger, we might have been in junior high or early high school.  Mini golfing was something we only seemed to do on vacation, it was kind of a tradition!

Ahoy Buccaneers! Int't Talk like a Pirate Day + Book Review

Happy International Talk Like a Pirate Day!  I just finished reading the sixth installment in a favorite book series of mine, the Ethan Gage Adventures by William Dietrich.  These novels contain a lot of historical information about real events in history, though the main character, Ethan Gage, is not a real person (or was he?).  He reminds me a bit of Indiana Jones, crossed with a bit of Captain Jack Sparrow.  He gets himself involved in seemingly impossible to survive situations, and manages to escape with only minor injuries.  He's not actually an archeologist or a pirate, though he has worked with (and against) both.  The novels are exciting and fun to read - I love history, but I think even non-history fans would enjoy these stories, there's a lot of action and adventure!  

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Evergreen Wisteria

Evergreen Wisteria.  This is why computers need a scratch 'n sniff function!  These blossoms are not only a gorgeous color combo of purple-magenta-pink-lilac loveliness  they also smell like heaven!  (Or at least, they smell how I think heaven should smell - a wonderfully sweet, spicy, floral scent).  The Evergreen Wisteria is blooming in the Himalayan Mountain Biome at Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, if you're in the neighborhood and would like to check it out!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Olivia Has Concerns

I'm not sure what all of her concerns deal with... but she does look worried, doesn't she?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Hayden Falls Park

Hayden Falls Park is a small park (about two acres) with a gorgeous waterfall and boardwalk path.  I first learned about Hayden Falls from some friends who moved to an apartment complex near the falls about a year or so ago.  They raved about how beautiful the falls are and how easy it is to get to them, the park is located just off of Hayden Run Road where it crosses the Scioto River.  Kenneth and I have driven past the parking lot for the falls several times, but had never made time to stop.

Cat Nappin'

Cat nappin'.  It's rough, but somebody's gotta do it. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Pumpkin Cider

This Pumpkin Woodchuck Hard Cider is only on the production line for two and half hours!  Grab some if you can find it and are of legal age - it's gluten-free and delicious!

Starliner Diner - Hilliard

Starliner Diner is a hidden gem in Hilliard!  The restaurant is tucked away in a small strip of buildings on top of a hill along Cemetery Road.  If you venture inside you'll find an eclectically decorated restaurant with a Latin-American inspired menu. The interior walls of the restaurant are brightly painted in red, yellow, blue and green.  One wall is covered with a large mural with a food/celestial theme, another wall is adorned with a collection of clocks. These fun decorations give the restaurant a casual and inviting atmosphere!

Saturday, September 14, 2013


Saw these beauties and many others today at the Ohio Pawpaw Festival in Albany, Ohio!  What's a pawpaw?  Pawpaws are Ohio's state native fruit and the largest fruit native to North America.  Kenneth and I spotted pawpaw at Battelle Darby Creek, Sharon Woods and even at the Columbus Zoo - they grow all over Ohio!  The fruit is edible (but not the seeds!) and tastes like a combination of banana, mango and vanilla.  The texture is soft, like custard.  I will be posting a review of the 15th annual Pawpaw Festival very soon!

While you wait, check out the Ohio Pawpaw Festival website (or get yourself to Albany, the festival continues tomorrow!) and this NPR story The Pawpaw: Foraging For America's Forgotten Fruit by Allison Aubrey (a segment of the story is about the Ohio Pawpaw Fest!).  Don't forget to keep your eyes peeled for pawpaws in the Capital City - they grow in patches in wooded areas, the fruit is ripe when it falls from the tree (you can give a tree a gentle shake to knock high hanging fruit to the ground).  Enjoy!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies + Recipe

These are not my prettiest cookies, but they taste pretty good and were easy to make.  To make the cookies chewier and less cakey, you do have to "man handle" them a bit by flattening them when they first come out of the oven.  That's why these guys aren't beauty queen cookies - I smooshed them!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Pumpkin, Bean, and Chicken Enchiladas

Pumpkin Feast continues at our house!  Tonight, Kenneth made these Pumpkin, Bean, and Chicken Enchiladas (recipe from Better Homes & Gardens).  They were delicious!  Check out more savory pumpkin recipes on my Pinterest board, Pumpkin Feast!  

Stauf's Coffee Roasters - Grandview Heights

Stauf's Coffee Roasters is a micro coffee roaster in Grandview Heights.  Stauf's roasts coffee for Cup O' Joe, MoJoe Lounge and their own coffee shop located on Grandview Avenue.  I love that you can see Stauf's roaster in the coffee shop (pictured below, top middle photograph)!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Squirrel's Harvest

Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice

I enjoyed my first pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks today - served with a commemorative PSL coffee sleeve to celebrate 10 years since the popular drink was introduced.  It doesn't matter that the temperature today hit 85°F it's starting to feel like Fall to me!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Hello. My Namaste is...

My nametag from tonight's Open Class with Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman-Yee.  It was a great class and I hope to have a review of it up here soon!  Namaste and good night!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Hello there, Fall!

The leaves are slowly starting to change, even on the teeny tiny leaves of this bonsai maple tree!  Hello Fall!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Gluten-Free Chokeberry-Lime Bread

This Chokeberry-Lime Bread, like some of my other recipes lately, is still being tweaked (mainly, it needs more lime, maybe even a lime glaze!).  It was adapted from the Blueberry-Oat Quick Bread recipe on The Kitchn.  I will post the recipe here when its in better shape!

While you wait, check out my Chokeberry Oatmeal Bars recipe!  

Chokeberries kind of taste like blueberries, but can't be eaten raw, hence the name chokeberry!  My mom, sister and I harvested the chokeberries pictured below from my parents' yard two weeks ago.  I now have three gallon sized bags of these berries in my freezer (after being frozen and/or cooked, the berries lose their astringency and become palatable)!  The chokeberry bushes were planted as ornamentals when my parents landscaped their yard several years ago; we realized that the berries are edible after they were planted.  It was a delicious discovery!  

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Little Olivia

This photograph of Olivia reminds me of a little cat figurine I've had since I was a kid - do you see the resemblance?  

Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens

Chadwick Arboretum is an urban arboretum that is nearly in Kenneth and I's backyard!  Ever since we moved to Columbus three years ago, I've been meaning to visit Chadwick.  Because it's so close, it's easy to push off visiting until later, it's not like it's going anywhere, right?  Months can easily turn into years as we get busy or develop a routine.  Unfortunately I'm guilty of this with lots of other cool places in Columbus.  Part of my goal with this blog is to finally make it to some of these awesome places in Columbus that we've put off visiting because they're not going anywhere.

We made time to visit Chadwick after a wonderful three-year wedding anniversary celebration dinner at Cap City Fine Diner and Bar last month.  Chadwick Arboretum is 62 acres, but is broken up into four separate sections on the Ohio State University campus: the Learning Gardens, the Lane Avenue Gardens, the Bloch Cancer Survivors Plaza and Arboretum North.  We visited the Lane Avenue Gardens.  It was a surprisingly chilly evening for August and the setting sun cast long shadows as we walked through the gardens.  I took a lot of photos, several of them are posted below. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Pumpkin Feast Begins + Pumpkin Pancakes Recipe

Fall is by far my favorite season!  My two favorite holidays are in the Fall (Halloween and Thanksgiving) and the cooler temperatures mean I can wear my favorite sweaters and hats while hiking and enjoying the changing leaves.  The absolute best thing about this season, though, is the food!

Garden Hunter

Yesterday's Photo of the Day: a brown and green praying mantis my Dad and I found while picking tomatoes in my parents' garden.  I've never seen one with this color pattern before!