Four Food Brands Worth Checking Out

Oh hey…I still exist. Just in case you were wondering.

Things here have been running at the continued frenzied pace of “omg hold on for dear life.” And I’ve loved every second of it.

Seriously, my love for this city sometimes utterly overwhelms me. There is no where else in the world (yes, the world) I’d rather be than in NYC. Even with the many bumps an bruises that came along with this move, I’m just so utterly at peace, finally. And yes I know it sounds counterintuitive to find peace in the city that never sleeps but for me, it just works.

All that being said, I must concede one point to Boston – VegFest. I’m officially counting myself a VegFest connoisseur at this point given that I’ve literally been to events up and down the eastern seaboard (ok ok…from Boston to DC). And to this day, Boston still wins. In fact, after having attended NYC’s this weekend, I can definitely say that there is no place like Boston…for VegFest. And VegFest only. Lest there be any confusion about my true affiliation. Winking smile

Even disregarding the fact that NYC’s is a ticketed event (thankfully they do $5 end-of-day tix for the last 2 hours), the choice of vendors…ok. It was fun to see all of the local brands but there weren’t a ton of commercially available products (read: no coupons). There’s obviously positives and negatives to both of this and I don’t want to get into the debate at this moment, but given the fact that we are, indeed, still on a budget, buying my goodies exclusively online (without a discount) just isn’t totally practical. I also didn’t think there were nearly as many hot food vendors as at other shows…

Plus, why is it in the middle of winter? Ok the end, but still…having to lug my coat was a PITA. Yes I know…I’m a spoiled New York-er. Get over it. Winking smile

Like I said, I did discover some fab brands that I’m excited to share with you today. Many of these do fall into the “can’t buy in stores” category but they are so worth sharing about because they rock.

Nuttin Ordinary
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I know that making cashew cheese is a fairly simply process. But the price of buying nuts in bulk still gives me a heart attack and honestly I usually just end up using them to make raw desserts. Enter Nuttin Ordinary. First of all, I <3 their name. Secondly, their Spicy Cheese Spread has such a great kick to it without being overwhelming. And when they told me to think of their products as vegan goat cheese…and then it tasted like vegan goat cheese…for much less than the cost of Kite Hill or Treeline…I was hooked. Oh, and they’re a New Hampshire-based company. Love my New Englanders!

Right now their products are only available in NH, Brattleboro, VT, and Western MA. But they’re obviously expanding and I can’t wait until they’re more readily available!

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I was a little confused on these at first…and honestly had already spent a lot of money on chocolate. Shh, don’t tell! But alas I was hooked from first bite!

The best way to think Mountain Morsels is as chocolate-drenched trail mix. Do I have your attention yet? They’re mixtures of dried fruits, nuts, and spices all smothered in dark chocolate delicousness. And they aren’t overwhelmingly sweet. Win win win.

And since I’m clearly on an I<3theNortheast kick, I’ll add that each Morsel flavor is named after a part of the Appalachian Trial. A fact that my ego would like to inform you I figured out all by myself after seeing the name of one of the peaks the beau and I climbed several years back. Ego aside, love that this Bronx-ite is also a NH-native and is giving a delish shout-out to her roots!

Unfortunately, these goodies aren’t available in any stores but will be at NYC farmer’s markets. I win. Smile with tongue out

http://organiclivingsuperfoods.com/themes/current%20shop%20theme/images/OLS_logo_120H.pngSource

First up, I really hate the name of this company. I know – not a good introduction. But it’s a) bulky and b) contains the word “superfood” which I generally dislike

All that aside, OLS’ stuff effing rocks. Like I sampled about 10 different things (I also was trying to shove as much food in my mouth as possible in the 75 minutes I had to see the whole damn expo) and proceeded to buy three of their products. They offer a ton of different products ranging from dried fruits (you know things like goji berries and mulberries), trail mixes, nuts, energy squares (omgosh so damn good) and my fave: Organic Dark Chocolate Covered Coconut Chunks. Which taste like a mounds bar except a million and one times better because its real chocolate and not a bunch of fake stuff.

OLS sells their goodies at over 50 locations in Boston. <—wait how the heck haven’t I seen them at Boston VegFest before?! What the what?!


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Last but not least – my new fave bar. My previous fave bar decided to stop being peanut-free which broke my little heart…I found out at VegFest and lodged as formal of a complaint as possible before taking my money back. Soooo sad…but thankfully Amrita (which apparently means ‘immortal’ in Sanskrit) was there to be my rebound. #allhail

So as you can see these bars are all fantastically allergen free (and utterly delish) which is great because finding a vegan bar that isn’t made in a facility that processes peanuts (and isn’t just a shit ton of soy protein isolate b) is kind of hard. And by hard I mean “nearly impossible” and “outrageously expensive.” These bars unfortunately still fall into the latter category but they are available in stores throughout the Tri-State area. And sometimes its worth spending a little more so I can kiss my beau without worrying about brushing my teeth or potentially killing him because I just wanted a damn larabar.

My favorite part of NYC VegFest was the fact that my beloved Emmy’s was back. Yes I could buy these down in Balto but you know what? There’s nothing like stuffing yourself with unlimited samples of your fave macaroons and then buying a few bags for half the grocery store price. Sooo perfect and amazing.

Yoga/beauty/yum,

Kait xo

Baby Steps

Once upon a time I read an article on habit formation that talked about establishing a flossing habit by just flossing one tooth a day.

I laughed out loud at the ridiculousness of this concept.

Of course the author answered my silently uttered, “what is the point?!” by of course citing a bunch of behavioral change theory. Or maybe I’m confusing my MPH classes with my blog reading. OH WELL!

Basically it’s the idea of building upon small wins. <—can’t tke credit for that concept either thank you Danielle/Marie/Hillary/Leo/Ramit/Derek/Tonya/Sarah/Kris/Gabby/Lindsay/I can’t remember who said it so yes I just listed all my mentors. If you floss just one tooth a day every day for a week, you’re building your capacity + your belief in your ability to do it. To be honest, I still think its super silly but guess what I started doing this year? And guess what actually worked?

Yea, I have a flossing habit now. So what?

Well I decided to be super ambitious and extrapolate this baby steps mentality to a bigger project: getting my Master’s paper published. I’m embarrassed to admit that its been almost a year since I submitted it and I basically haven’t looked at the damn thing since. Frankly, there’s a lot of emotion wrapped up in the paper and it was written at a pivotal time when I was coming out of the darkness of the previous months and into the newness of being a Master’s grad. In other words, there’s a whole myriad of reasons why I never want to look at that paper again.

But getting it published is something I want, both for me and the field. Its good work and despite whatever emotions surround the experience of writing it, I’m proud of the work.

So this week I committed to spending just 10 minutes a day on it. On Monday, all I did was read through it to get myself reconnected to the work. During that time I started to get anxious and tense because omgthere’ssomuchtodo! And I remembered how much effort the damn thing took and now that I’ve waited its, admittedly, going to be harder to go back in and make edits because there’s another year’s worth of research that I have to go through. My antural instinct is normally to plow through projects. I give 100%: to work or to play but never to a happy medium of both..

I’m starting to recognize this is a problematic pattern for me. I alternate between weeks of insane productivity and weeks of utter and complete laziness. Because when I’m in a project, I’m in it. Until I get bored and take a break and a week later, I’m still taking a break.

And so just like with flossing, I’ve said no more. Baby steps from here on out, with this project and so many others. Next week, I’ll do 15 minutes per day. 20 the week after that. It isn’t much, and my ego is having a shitfest with it, but its more than I did before. And the little results (like realizing how badly the amazing citrus that is in season gets stuck in your teeth <—ew) do feel like wins and are totally worth celebrating. Plus I have something new + tangible everyday to share with the beau.

As I look at my life I see so many areas where this pattern has been toxic for me. I get paralyzed by all the things I need to do and then just stay stuck because there’s literally no way to do them all right now. Thankfully this year I have an amazing accountability buddy (shout-out to Danielle!) who’s not only there to push me but also to remind me that its ok to take a break. That if all I accomplished on Monday was re-reading my paper, then that’s a successful day. Because those 10 minutes are about more than just doing the work (or even building confidence). They’re reconnecting me and rebuilding my relationship to the project. And that’s what is going to get the damn thing done.

I don’t believe in the go-go-go push it mentality. I believe in working with ease. But sometimes ease = distraction for me and that’s not work either. So baby steps is, in essence, my way of finding a balance in how I can be productive with ease. On day s when I want to do more, and its coming from a genuine place of being inspired and enjoying the work rather than fear at it being too much, I will. But on days when I don’t want to do anything, at least I’ll have 10 minutes to say that I accomplished something worth celebrating. And most likely feel a helluva lot better about the work than before.

So here’s to trying something different and actually getting results,. And being held accountable. Since, you know, I just told ya’ll that I plan on getting this paper published. *gulp* W

What’s one big goal you want to accomplish this year and how can you break it down into #babysteps?

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo

Money Saving Monday: Standing On Line

Um can we talk about how its been over 2 months since I’ve posted one of these? What the what?! Unfortunately, this reflects the fact that I haven’t done “regular” shopping in about just as long. There’s been holidays and trips back-and-forth to CT and “getting by” grocery runs and mid-week ones and “I need to buy new face wash + moisturizer because my doctor said so” ones and… well, you get the picture.

This week, however, this glorious mild week, we had a “normal” week. Well, normal with regards to grocery shopping! By that I mean I couponed + meal planned on Saturday and Sunday we hit up two stores and saved a ton of $$$. In fact, we were even under budget.

Bitches I’m back!

*clears throat*

Before I get to this week’s goodness I just need to tell you a story. So Sundays I’ve started going to a mindfulness group. It’s effing amazing and I can’t wait to write about it + share some of the juicy things I’ve learned. Anyway, there’s a Trader’s right across from the subway which makes it super duper convenient to stop by on my way home. Last week, I did not know this. This week, I was smart. No seriously I even packed my couponing stuff Saturday evening when we got back from our second gourmet vegan dinner (omg guys I’m so effing lucky in this city…so. many. vegan. desserts) so I wouldn’t forget.

ANYWAY…I decided to pop into Starbucks before going to Trader’s. I had a coupon + a gift card so heeeeellllloooo free coffee. When I walk back to Trader’s, however, I see all these people waiting outside. In a line. And I realize…holy shit, the store is at capacity and I have to wait on line to get in. <—yes ‘’”on line.” I’m a New Yorker now folks and this is how we roll Thankfully I had my coffee (plus a deeeeep desire for cheap produce + pantry staples) and the line moved pretty darn quickly.

It was so worth it too. Why? Because the midtown Trader’s is a magical place that’s three stories (ok the first floor is just where you enter but shhhh indulge me here) and includes so many goodies I haven’t seen anywhere else. Don’t ask me what because a) I didn’t write them down and b) I was trying to figure out where the heck everything was and wandering around in circles. But there were fancy items and how could there not be with two whole levels of Trader’s goodness?!

It also was magical because while I’m picking out bananas (I kid you not…seriously, could I make this up?!) I hear someone say my name. When I turn around its one of the girls I was friends with at the Trader’s in Worcester! There were a lot of high pitched squeals and screamed profanities. From my end only since, you know, she was working. But guys…its been almost two years since I’ve seen this girl. And in the recesses on my mind I remember that she moved to New York (I even remembered that she was living with family out in Long Island what what!) but what are the effing odds?! I seriously just kept saying “holy f*cking sh*t I can’t believe this” and “omfg I’m so excited to see you.”

True story: I have a potty mouth.

Anyway, let’s talk about saving money!

Meal Plan

Pizza
Harvest Chili with Cornbread (Happy Herbivore Light & Lean (HHLL))
Creamy Avocado Pasta (usually lightened up by subbing water for 1 Tbsp of EVOO) with “Chicken” Strips
Pear & Lentil Salad (HHLL)
Skinny Puttanesca (HHLL)
Creamy Kale Salad (HHLL) with Broiled Tofu and Lemony Couscous (HHLL)

Ok I’m a bit obsessed with HHLL apparently. Mostly because I had to meal plan in a rush and it was right in front of me and the recipes are fresher on my mind so I knew how I could use some of our leftover produce from last week. Like the many avocados that have taken forever and a day to get ripe. *le sigh*

Spending Savings

Trader Joe’s: $26.23
Whole Foods: $49.59
Total: $75.82

WHAT UP! *happy dances* Also we totally got 5 full bags of food for this. I was so damn excited.

Whole Foods: $26.00
Total: $26.00 (34%)

yes yes yes yes yes

Steals and Deals

Trader Joe’s

Organic Tomato Paste (BPA-free can): $0.89
Organic Tomato Sauce (BPA-free can): $1.49
Salsa: $1.99
Whole Wheat Couscous (): $1.99 <—#amazing
Organic Carrots: $0.89
Craisins: $1.99
Golden Raisins: $2.69
Bananas: $0.19 ea

We got other stuff but I think these represent the best deals.

Whole Foods

Organic Kale : 2/$4.00
Blood Oranges: $1.79/lb
Grapefruit: $0.99/lb
Sprouted Seed Bread: 2/$6.00
Whole Trade Peppers: $3.49/lb
Cedar’s Mediterranean Hommus: 2/$5.00 <—yes!

Buy (1) Back to Nature Cracker, 2/$6.00 (reg $3.99)
Use (1) $1.00/1 Back to Nature Product coupon
with (1) $1.00/1 Back to Nature Product Jan/Feb Whole Deal coupon
Total: $1.00 (holla!)

Buy (2) Beyond Meat Chicken-Free Strips, $7.98 (reg. $10.78)
Use (1) Buy One Beyond Meat Product Get One Free coupon (newsletter subscribers)
OR (2) $1.00/1 Beyond Meat Product coupon
Total: as low as $3.99/2 or $2.00 each!

Olivia’s Organics Salad Mix, 1 lb, $6.99
Use (1) $1.00/1 Olivia’s Product coupon (NLA)
Total: $5.99  <—cheaper at BJ’s but more convenient at WF

Welll that’s all for this week folks. Now that things are settling, I’ll be back to blogging more regularly. Huzzah!

Yoga/beauty/savings,

Kait xo

Lucky Deal

Lucky Deal

OH I love this…

Plum District, a groupon-esque site geared towards moms but great for random deals like this too, is offering half off a voucher to Lucky Vitamin. LV is like VitaCost or iHerb -lots of great products at discounted prices. I used it to stock up on nuts that the beau can eat (aka weren’t processed in a facility with peanuts) so I can go back to making nut butters and raw desserts without the fear of him going to the hospital. huzzah!

If you want to take advantage, click here within the next 3 days.

Yoga/beauty/savings,

Kait xo

New York, You’re my Home

Well folks, in the continuing whirlwind of my life…I moved to NYC this week!

WHAT?!

Long story short, due to budget cuts my contract ended about a month earlier than expected or desired (by anyone, my team or myself). The higherups had been waffling between an end date in December and one in January and, despite the fact that I was pulling awesome numbers and everyone loved me <–sorry not sorry I’m bragging because its true! they had to let me go.

Three months ago this would have fueled a complete and total meltdown. This time, I hustled. No seriously. I found out last Tuesday and decided right then and there that my trip home for Christmas would actually be my move to the city. *gulp* Everything sped up drastically. All those things I thought I had weeks to do–farewells to friends, final appointments with my physical therapists and my treatment team, last Zumba classes and support groups, crossing stuff off my Baltimore Bucket List, etc–got done in a matter of days. Or were scheduled for my return trip in a few weeks to a) pick up the increasing number of things I forgot (the perils of packing super quickly) and b) actually get in some of those “last time” things.

In a matter of days I went through the grief process- shock/denial/anger, sorrow, acceptance, and excitement. Even though it was last minute, it was still mostly on my terms. I left Baltimore feeling overwhelmed with love and appreciation. I left at the end of the year and the school semester (for my Zumba classes), rather than at an awkward mid-point. Because most of ‘my people’ had left already, the list of people I really absolutely needed to see was rather small. And my last two days were spent killing it at work, the staff Holiday party, and packing with one of my best friends. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Through it all, I did my best to take the time to really savor and enjoy it. I didn’t really have a choice! I was overwhelmed and stressed but I also focused on the moments of beauty and all the things I could be grateful for. And then I stuffed my car to the hilt and partook in that everyone’s-gotta-do-it-once experiencing of driving hundreds of miles with (almost) all of your belongings to start anew somewhere else.

And now…here I am. Finding my way around this giant city. We’re still living out of boxes, although this weekend’s Ikea trip should solve that thank-you-storage-solutions. I’ve already found a tailor, a support group, and a new friend!  Not bad considering I’ve only really been in town for 3 days! Honestly though, I’m still waiting for it to truly and deeply sink in that I’m here. Kate (the new friend) told me to have patience. So that’s what I’m going to do…along with letting myself revel in every bit of joy over this experience (seriously, if you see me I probably have the biggest , goofiest grin on my face).

There’s still a lot of unknowns but at least we’ve settled on a location for now. The beau is working steadily and I’m making my way, one day at a time.

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo

 

Our Next Big Adventure

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Fuzzy but look how effing cute it is!

Well folks, it’s official. The beau and I are officially the latest residents of NYC (though I’m not living there yet)!  I’m beyond obsessed with our adorable studio. I mean, we have a fireplace and a spiral staircase. No dishwasher or laundry *gulps* but right now, I don’t care (I love it)!

The beau is moving in immediately and I’ll follow as soon as my work here is done (date still TBD). Right now I’m in the process of finding new doctors and a new gym to teach at. But mostly I’m in complete and utter awe that this dream, the one we never dared think possible…this impossible, beautiful dream…is coming true.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I keep hearing “New York State of Mind” on the radio. All the time…like it was just release. And you can bet your behind that I sing along at the top of my lungs, each and every time.

There’s still so much up in the air…I’ve got to figure out the move, establish myself with new healthcare providers, find a new gym to teach at and so forth. Luckily, I already have my eye on a nearby yoga studio (and a mindfulness group). #priorities ;)

In addition to that, we’re still recovering, financially and otherwise, from the brutal months of job hunting. For now though I’m excited and grateful and a million other invigorating emotions because guys…it’s my favorite city. And I really can’t wait to show it to you.

Yoga/beauty/dreams coming true,

Kait xo

Money Saving Monday–Taking the Bus

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I’m happy to report that things are finally settling down and I’m getting into a routine. Huzzah! Considering how the last several weeks and months have gone, it’s nice to be establishing something different.

Of course this weekend I’m attending a wedding, then the beau visits, and then its Thanksgiving but shhhhhhh! I’m going to live in a happy place called routine land for a bit longer…

Meal Plan
*Happy Herbivore test recipes are marked with an asterik*

Balsamic Roast* with Mediterranean Chard (Everyday Happy Herbivore) and bulgur
Tofu Lettuce Wraps* with Peanut Noodles*
Creamy Avocado Spaghetti Squash Pasta
Creamy Beet Salad*

Epic food week dontcha think?!

Spending Savings

Farmers Market: $15
Whole Foods: $19.65
Total: $35.00

Farmers Market: $10
Whole Foods: $8.35
Total: $18.35 (53%)

The farmers market is still matching food stamp benefits up to $10. So my $15 that I spent became $25! This is a wonderful beautiful thing.

Steals and Deals

Buy (2) Nasoya Extra Firm Sprouted Tofu, 16oz: $5.00
Use (1) $1.25/2 Nasoya products coupons (Sept/Oct Whole Deal)
Total: $3.75 or $1.88 each <—not the best deal BUT I have a cushy parking spot and wasn’t about to give it up to drive elsewhere!

Buy (1) Arrowhead Mills Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, 2lb: $3.99
Use (1) $1.00/1 Arrowhead Mills baking products coupon (NLA)
with (1) $1.00/1 Arrowhead Mills product Nov/Dec Whole Deal coupon
Total: $1.99 or $0.99/lb

Buy (1) Dream Non-Dairy milk, 32 oz: $2.99
Use (1) $2.00/1 Dream non-dairy beverage or dessert coupon
Total: $0.99 or $3.96/gal

I know this was short, sweet, and to the point this week folks but I figure you’re probably ok with it!

Until next time…

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo

Wednesday Revelations: The Big One

Life update that is! The one I’ve been needing to do for a couple of weeks now. Hold on folks, its about to get crazy. ;)

I realize that I’ve hinted at a lot of things over the past couple of months. I’ve had to tell this story over and over again, in various forms, to different people who I spoke with at different points in it. I literally have friends who don’t know what city I’m in right now. So this post is as much for my in-person friends as it is for the rest of my lovely readers.

First of all, let me clarify – I’m in Baltimore! I’m here until at least the end of the year, maybe longer.

The beau and I moved into a new apartment in the city in June. Our plan was to stay through summer and if we didn’t have jobs, pack up and head home to CT to bunk with family. However, come the end of July we both had a number of job prospects. And so the pattern continued. We’d be ready to call our management company and start looking for new tenants…a job prospect would pop up…we’d decide to stay for “just one more month”…and the job would fall through.

It was utterly exhausting. And soul crushing at times. Every time I had to prep myself to leave a city I was finally starting to feel comfortable in, only to have my heart broken. Rinse and repeat.

The beau eventually got a couple of side jobs and I picked up an amazing babysitting gig. I wish I could show you the babies because they are utterly adorable and perfect and my phone is filled with photos of them. But alas, I read an article a while back about face recognition stuff so I’m paranoid to post said photos. Moving on…

The side jobs floated us. We both kept busy enough and though the money wasn’t great, it was better than relying entirely on our rapidly dwindling savings. But come September, we agreed for good that we’d give it one more month. Because this decision was purely financial, it had significantly more weight than our previous ones. I began the full grieving process that came along with saying goodbye. I needed closure because more and more Baltimore was feeling like the home I so wished it were during my MPH year. I had community—my support group, the handful of friends still in the area, and my second family that I babysat for.

Then, towards the end of September, the beau found out about a dream job opportunity in NYC, our dream city In a matter of weeks he applied, had two interviews, received an offer and accepted. We were moving to NYC. We decided he would move up first and I would follow at the end of October. As we began working our way through his bucket list, I found myself struggling more and more. Quite frankly it didn’t feel fair that I had to give up what little I had down here. I almost lost it during every Zumba class I taught as I looked at my students and was overwhelmed with a combination of pride and sadness. The beau and I talked a lot during these weeks as we made the most of what we thought was our last bit of time in Baltimore.

But alas, things couldn’t be that simple. Our plan to move up together fell through. On the same day, a good friend in Baltimore offered me the one thing I needed the most: time. And so the beau packed up his stuff, we did a farewell bar crawl, and the day after Columbus Day he set off on his next big adventure.

Within an hour of saying goodbye to him I had a job.

Seriously, I couldn’t write a story this good. Movie rights are available for the top bidder. ;) So I relished my last few days of complete freedom, spent an amazing afternoon with the kiddos at the children’s museum, and began packing up for my fourth move in a a year and a half.

On the second day of my job (aka two Tuesdays ago), I received the sad call from one of my besties. The beau came down at the end of the week to help me move to my new home on Saturday and on Sunday we made the drive to NYC so I could catch a bus from there to RI where the services were taking place. Monday evening I flew back and the rest of last week was a flurry of work, doctor’s appointments, unpacking, and other obligations. I was running on adrenaline and lots of caffeine.

In between all of this I started physical therapy for a sprained ankle, said goodbye to friend after friend as they moved to new cities for jobs, and was showing the apartment and selling our furniture.

And that brings us to now. I’m loving my new position and can see myself working for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for a long time. I’m in my third beautiful apartment in Baltimore and getting to know another neighborhood. My roomie has a cuddly kitty and our downstairs neighbor has a super friendly dog that I have permission to visit whenever. My ankle is doing slightly better and I’m meeting new people. Oh and my days have purpose – to help cure cancer.

In other words, things are looking up.

I’m terrified to make any definite plans, given how great that worked over the past few months. So for now I’m focusing on being grateful for the gifts I’ve been given, especially being able to stay with someone as I readjust to the loss of my biggest support person. The nightmare called job hunting showed me more of what I want out of my life. And if I learned nothing else, I know I’m resilient in ways I didn’t think were possible. There were many times this summer when I wanted to just give up. Quite frankly, some weeks I did. I would sit and watch hours of Netflix and just avoid everything because the pain was overwhelming. But eventually I’d put the pieces back together

And that’s all we really can do, isn’t it? Get back up, take what lessons we can, and create a better reality the next time.

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo

Money Saving Monday: Welcome Back Edition

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Has anyone else missed these posts? Gosh knows I have! The past few weeks have been utterly insane and grocery shopping has been a luxury I’ve missed desperately. So today I committed to relishing in my trip. As I wrote in my Passion by Kait newsletter this week:

“Me? I’m going to curl up with a good book, a cup of tea, and the kitty I now share a home with. On Saturday I’m going to dance my heart out at a special Zumba class and indulge in a decadent breakfast afterwards. And Sunday I’m going to take my time at the farmers’ market, thoroughly experiencing my visit rather than rushing around like usual.”

I did all of the above this weekend, along with volunteering at a work event and getting to hang out with co-workers after. There was dancing, delicious food, practical jokes, cuddle time, and a boatload of beauty. And today there was epic grocery shopping. :)

Meal Plan
*I’m currently testing for the fifth Happy Herbivore cookbook. Test recipes are marked with an asterik*

Ragut* with Pineapple Rice (Happy Herbivore Abroad)
Belizean Beans* over baked sweet potatoes
Arugula Pear Salad (with Tofurkey slices and no cheese)!
Farro with Leeks and Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Rainbow Greens (Everyday Happy Herbivore) with Curried Chickpea Salad and rice
Split Pea and Edamame Hummus
Non-Mexican Vegan Mac & Cheese

Spending Savings

Farmers Market: $30.00
Safeway: $27.32
Total: $57.30

Farmers Market: $5.00
Safeway: $24.08
Total: $29.08 (51%)

Ok so two things to note: 1) the farmers market is doubling all food stamps*. Huzzah! And thank you Kaiser Permanante for the grant that allowed this. So that’s how I saved my $$$. 2) I know I overspent. But because of point #1, I’ll still be able to stick to my budget for the rest of the month. #win

*After five months of job hunting, and though I did get a part-time job, I needed to look into options that would help me out. Though admittedly I struggled with a bit of embarrassment about this, another of my classmates bravely posted about her experiences signing up for both food stamps and Medicaid. I know this can be a polarizing issue but I also want to work to decrease the stigma around something that should carry no shame. In my opinion, asking for help is one of the most difficult and most beautiful choices you can make. I’m glad I did and ever so grateful that a system is in place to help those of us who need it.

Steals & Deals

Safeway is one of my fave places to shop. Their regular prices are nothing to write home about. In fact, I’m pretty sure that Whole Foods’ frozen veggies are cheaper. But their sales, the fact that they double manufacturer’s coupons under $1.00, and their Just for You (J4U) personalized deals make it possible to get some ridiculously low prices!

Herdez Canned Salsa: B1G1 free ($0.99 for 2)
O Organics 1 lb salad mixes: $5.00
GT’s Kombucha: 2/$5.00
Avocados: $0.95 (J4U personalized price)
Bananas: $0.59/lb
(J4U personalized price)

Buy (1) Libby’s Pumpkin (15oz), $1.99
Use (1) $0.50/1 Libby’s pumpkin, 15oz+ coupon
Coupon doubles
Total: $0.99 or $0.07/oz

Buy (1) Muir Glen Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes (15oz), $1.50
Use (1) $0.50/1 Muir Glen canned tomatoes coupon (no longer available)
Coupon doubles
with 10% off any canned J4U promotion
Total: $0.35 or $0.02/oz

Buy (2) Blue Diamond Coconut/Almond Almond Breeze (32oz), $1.99
Use (1) $1.00/2 Shelf Stable Almond Breeze milks coupon (no longer available)
or (2) $0.55/1 Blue Diamond Almond Milk (SS 10/13/13)

Total: as low as $1.78 or $0.89 ea

Buy (2) Triscuits, $3.54
Use (1) $1.00/2 Triscuit crackers coupon (SS 10/20/13)
Total: $2.54 or $1.27 ea

Buy (1) Almond Dream Bites, $3.50
Use (1) $1.00/1 Dream Non-Dairy product coupon
Total: $2.50

Buy (1) Tofurky Peppered Deli Slices, $2.50
Use (1) $1.00/1 Tofurky product coupon (DC Vegfest)
or (1) $0.75/1 Tofurky item coupon
Total: as low as $1.00

Though my late-night trip to Safewy last week won (I saved  more than I spent), I’m happy with how this week’s trip turned out. I might not be a regular, but I couldn’t say no to the cheap avocados! If they give me that again, they’ll definitely have won my heart!

Until next week…

Yoga/beauty/savings,

Kait xo

Grief

I’m not sure where to begin this post or even how to write it. I’m worried I’ll offend or earn misplaced sympathy. But then I remember that my heart is breaking too – for my loss, the loss of a best friend, and the loss of this world.

Two Tuesdays. Two farewells.

My heart has not physically hurt this much in a long time. For much of last year, I wouldn’t let it. I’d shovel it down under one poor coping mechanism or another…then there’d be a breaking point…I’d promise not to do that again…and the cycle would begin. As I’ve worked to break this habit the emotions often have swept over me in a wave so powerful its left me shaking and gasping for breath and literally on my knees.

The last two Tuesdays have not been easy but I felt them, deep in my bones and yes, physically, in my heart. Last week, my relationship once again added the qualifier “long distance” to its title, a season that I thought had passed for good when the beau moved in earlier this year. But with this pain came  joyous news – a job with an organization I truly admire.

This week, however, the pain was just raw with nothing to soothe it. I buried it for my commute. And then again for my job. And then again on my break. And one last time while teaching Zumba. The dancing, admittedly helped. Watching my students master one of the more difficult songs caused a smile to occupy my face for a few moments as I realized that we were all there for each other.

But at the end of the day, the world has lost a wonderful, beautiful soul. My dear friend lost her mom. I lost someone who supported me through hard times and continued, even from a distance, to offer inspiration, positivity, and encouragement. And the UMass community lost an incredibly compassionate and dedicated caregiver.

For all these reasons and more, I grieve.

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo