Move with Love

“Move with Love”.  If I had something of a mantra, this would be it.

I’d like to believe that a life driven by intentions of love generates fruition of all life on this planet.

If we genuinely care for others and, in return, have others genuinely care for us, then all will be awarded an endless cycle of good fortune.

Now, extend this compassion towards all life, for the plants and organisms that inhabit nearly every space of this Earth.  Shouldn’t we take responsibility as advanced species to protect the land that provides us with food, shelter, and life?

In an age of social media and technology, we have been molded to forget the source of life—the natural world that has assisted human evolution throughout the millions of years of our existence.

I undertake difficult challenges, such as backcountry camping, to serve as a reminder of my ancestors’ struggles.  It heightens my senses and ignites a primal instinct to survive.

To persevere. 

Social media platforms like Facebook have conditioned us to think that others are doing better than ourselves or that we are not doing enough.  This sprouts anxiety and depression that cripples not only our mental but physical selves.

Technology and the concept of “single-use” have brought a world of convenience to our lives.  Businesses strive for your attention and customers like their shopping to be quick, convenient, and if it’s food, delicious.

Buy the latest model, the hottest fashion, the coolest feature, or simply the one with the cool packaging.  Buy. Buy. Buy.

Skull Technology.jpg

Photo Credit: intueri

There is a constant desire to have more and better, and we have advanced to a position of never feeling satisfied with what we have—generating tons of needless waste.

We collect, compile, absorb, repeat.

It’s like living a life in Nietzsche’s eternal recurrence, repeating the same painful routine day in and day out.

Sound fun, am I right?

As Henry David Thoreau wrote,Simplify your life.  Don’t waste the years struggling for things that are unimportant.  Don’t burden yourself with possessions.  Keep your needs and wants simple and enjoy what you have.  Don’t destroy your peace of mind by looking back, worrying about the past.  Live in the present. Simplify!”

Now let me take you outside, into the woods.  Here, there is silence, besides the leaves rustling above and the occasional pitter-patter of a ground squirrel hiding its treasured winter nuts.

The air is slightly chilled and fragrant of herbal bouquets as you slowly draw fresh air deep within your chest, following a relaxed exhale.

You turn your gaze up to the sky and see a chickadee hop from branch to branch going chickadee-dee-dee-dee and a white-tailed deer off in the distance chewing on some leaves.

Each passing step the dirt sinks under your feet and the warm sun gently energizes your skin.

You feel a sense of serenity, peace.

Washington Layer Collage

Passing through Montana during road trip to Washington State.  Photo Credit: Kat Polomsky

Natural wonders lift away any anxiety plaguing your mind and you feel the tightness loosen its grasp.

Beauty is everything pure on this Earth.

It’s impressive how a simple walk in the forest can blossom love for yourself, which often spreads into every branch of your life.

As Kathy Heideman sings in the title song “Move with Love”, “Hear it simple and straight, if you want to be great, move with love.”

 

Vegan Corn Elote with Lima Crema Sauce

Corn Elote is one of those street foods that you cannot pass up!  If I go to a Mexican restaurant, you know I’m looking to see if they have Elote.  I’ve had great elote and horrible elote, horrible consisting of watery canned corn and globs of egg-based mayonnaise.

The amount of energy I have when I don’t eat animal products is astounding.  My body doesn’t ache, I don’t have a stomach ache, I’m not as tired or not tired at all and I feel an overall surge of good within me.

As a cook, a favorite game I like to play is: guess the ingredients.  Elote was fairly easy for me since it uses common seasoning found in Mexican food and consists of less than 10 ingredients.  Remember less is often more.

If you want to improve your ability to recognize flavors, I recommend tasting ingredients individually and taste the dish you’re preparing throughout the cooking process.

This recipe is delicious and can trick anyone that loves dairy.  Follow Your Heart produces delicious dairy-free alternatives and their shredded parmesan is no exception.  I pulsed mine in a small food processor to imitate the texture of cojita.

This is an easy dish to make in large batches and I guarantee that if you serve this at your next party that it will be a huge hit!

Enjoy!

Vegan Corn Elote

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A zesty and cheesy Mexican favorite made dairy free.


Credit: Kat Polomsky

Ingredients

  • 4 ears of corn
  • 1/4 cup vegan shredded cheese (Follow Your Heart shredded parmesan is mighty tasty)
  • destemmed & chopped fresh cilantro
  • Lima Crema Sauce

Lima Crema Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup vegan mayo (I use Just Mayo found at WFM)
  • 2 tbsp Lime juice (Fresh is always better but I used bottled lime juice)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika (regular paprika is tasty too!)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp destemmed & chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

1) Grab all ingredients and place mis-en-place on the counter.

 

2) Husk corn and remove as much string of the cobs as possible. Wash.

 

3) I cut the cobs in half. If you plan to do this, use the butt of your chef knife and be careful not to cut yourself.

 

4) To cook the corn: Either grill corn, while turning often or heat pan to medium/high heat and cook until soft with brown/char spots on kernels (approx. 10 minutes)

 

5) While corn is cooking, mix all ingredients of lima crema in a small ball until completely blended.

 

6) When corn is soft and has some color, remove from flame.

7) Slather lima crema onto cooked corn, sprinkle with vegan cheese, and garnish with fresh cilantro.

 

8) Enjoy!

 

Want to make this healthier? Instead of using mayo, try using ripe avocado! Take 1/3 medium avocado and mix in 2 tbsp of your favorite unsweetened dairy-free milk and mix with the rest of the ingredients in a bullet blender.

 

 

It’s a bird, It’s a Plane, It’s a… Moth?

Meet the hummingbird moth. A delightful example of adaptation and evolution in a species.

This insect not only looks and emits the audible humming that denominates the bird it replicates but also mirrors the hummingbirds movements.

Remember that time you saw a hummingbird? Well, chances are it could have been a hummingbird moth.

On the balcony of my apartment are several potted flowers and every so often they attract some interesting wildlife. The other day while listening to some records with my boyfriend Mark, I saw something zipping around the flowers. I jumped up with excitement and rushed towards the sliding door to investigate.

I slowly opened the sliding door and without blinking, stared at my petunias. After looking around without anything in sight, I sighed with disappointment and rested my arm on the railing next to the petunias. Out of nowhere the mysterious creature zipped up and flew away as if it was never there.

Hummingbird Moth at Butterfly Bush

Snowberry clearwing moth, photo courtesy of JillLang, istock.com
Hummingbird flying next to purple flower
Calliope Hummingbird, photo courtesy of encrier, istock.com

Was this a dream? Was I losing my mind? Honestly, my mind has been lost for years but after returning indoors Mark mentioned that it was probably a hummingbird moth.

A hummingbird moth? My mind desperately tried processing these two words together but it just didn’t make sense.

Struck with amazement, bewilderment and fascination, I frantically looked online to see if this creature was real.

Unlike most moths, hummingbird moths are diurnal creatures, are rather plump and use a curled proboscis to suck up nectar as they hover over flowers. Another way to identify these moths is with two distinct antennae and 2 extra pairs of legs.

Whether you want to attract hummingbirds or their doppelgangers, you can add plants to your garden to help attract either species, including: Bee balm, Phlox, Honeysuckle, verbena, red clover, and wild roses.

I guarantee that this addition to your garden will attract a sense of wonderment that in years past would have been thought to be part of the fairy realm.

Featured image: Hummingbird Moth, courtesy of joel-t, istock.com.

Disconnect Yourself

Wake up, hurriedly prepare for work, 8 hours later come home, vegetate.

Welcome to my non-existence.  For the past few years, I’ve been alive but I have not been living.  The day passes by and the night lingers, and it feels like part of my life has been smudged away by the end of an eraser.

A mental fog clouded my mind and my body sunk into the couch like a sack of rotting potatoes.

Each evening I would scroll away the time as the animated lightbox flashed before my eyes, as ideas floated into the current of my subconsciousness.

I still battle these desires to this day, it is a constant struggle and I dare say that it forever will be.

Desire.  What is desire?  The OED defines desire as a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen.  Now I ask you, why does desire control our lives?

These kinds of thoughts have sparked a light within the fog of my mind.  Ever since my recent life-changing camping trip, where I spent 3 days backcountry camping up a mountain with 40 pounds on my back and another 5 camping in the isolated Smokey Mountains.  If you want to change your life, then do something that pushes or challenges you.  The Smokey Mountains changed my life and forced my concentration on survival and appreciate what are often everyday things.

I disconnected myself from technology, immersed in mother Earth in all her beauty and everything was in full harmony.  My usual stomach pains, body aches, and headaches ceased to exist.  As if the bag of rotten potatoes magically sprouted and blossomed into new life and beauty.

Potato Flower

Potato Flower.  Photo Credit: Keith Weller, en.wikipedia.org

The flowers of potatoes are quite pretty, aren’t they?

As mentioned before, I still struggle with this battle, but one thing has changed.  Each morning when I think of the day and what I will accomplish, instead of continuously saying “I’m going to rest a little longer”, I internally yell at myself “KAT STOP LOOKING AT YOUR PHONE AND GET UP!”.

This is my secret, my prized idea that no one else has ever dreamt before–yeah right.

If unproductive thoughts flow through your consciousness then those thoughts will continue propelling into reality.

This also can be said about positive thoughts.  If positive thoughts flow through your consciousness then those thoughts eventually become reality.

When tasks linger within my mind for a long time it makes me anxious and I don’t find satisfaction until the task is complete, and oh is that feeling such a relief.

I cannot depend on my power of thought to overcome these poor habits.  Removing technology is necessary for me since I often scroll through other people’s ideas for countless hours without grasping the memory to serve me later.

Another key component has been keeping up with chores, decluttering (donating mass amounts of crap I’ve collected through the years), reading more, spending time outdoors and enjoying cat naps during the day.

What’s the longest you’ve disconnected from technology?  Can you go without social media or T.V. for an hour?

Title Photo Courtesy of ziggy1, istock.com

 

Conscious Living in a World that Throws Everything Away

A few months back while doing research for gardening and composting on YouTube,  a video showed up featuring Bea Johnson, discussing her lifestyle called “Zero Waste”.

Those two words say it all and my mind quickly began simmering the idea of zero waste and soon after I became obsessed!

Johnson’s blog and book, “Zero Waste Home”  began a movement that has spread across the globe, inspiring other environmentally conscious individuals like myself.  Johnson has brought back a lifestyle that our ancestors have lived for thousands of years that include canning, making vinegar, cooking without waste, reusing what is available.

Bea Johnson believes you can live simply by following these simple guidelines, the 5R’s:

Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot (Not only in that order)

Johnson believes all habits can be adapted to this lifestyle, but a lot of regular habits may have to be sacrificed.

I’ve continued my research into this lifestyle by joining the Zero Waste Reddit community, researching books at the library, and by watching YouTube videos discussing their attempts at this lifestyle along with the frustration that comes with it.


Some frustration that I’ve personally experienced includes:

Feeling Overwhelmed

  • How do I even begin living this lifestyle?
  • What do I do with the things I currently waste?
  • Everyone I watch in public is so wasteful!  ARRGGHHH!
  • I have pets and taking care of them is wasteful.
  • The numbers game – Learning how much is wasted makes the heart feel heavy.

These are all complications I’ve come across and still struggle with during my journey.

To cope with the overwhelming amount of wastefulness I try to be non-judgemental of others, continuously restructure my habits until I find a system that works, and communicate my feelings to others and try to teach others about easy habits to reduce waste.

One of the key factors for adjusting to this lifestyle is the realization that I cannot expect to be waste-free overnight, it will take time and effort to attain a completely zero waste lifestyle.  

Being Unknowledgeable

  • What is considered to be waste?
  • Is recycling worth it?
  • What products are available for this lifestyle?
  • Needs Vs. wants.

I’ve delved deep into learning as much as I can about zero waste within the past couple of months and there is still much more to learn.

One dilemma I’ve experienced is how to get rid of the wasteful things I currently own.  I have nail polish, plastic wrap, plastic Tupperware, personal care products, toilet paper, random kitchen gadgets, and more.  

I currently just have these items sitting around, waiting for its life purpose to be fulfilled.  I still need to figure a solution for most of these items, but until then, I do the following:
  • Use or recycle the Tupperware.
  • Do not buy anything that has wasteful packaging or that is not recyclable.
  • Create family cloth. (A reusable cloth for wiping your bum)
  • Donate these items to a thrift store.
Bea Johnson points out an important detail:

Don’t buy anything new, you can find almost anything used at a local thrift store or on eBay.  Buy your food in bulk form and locally and in season.  Be conscious of what you are buying and think to yourself “Do I really NEED this?”

Get out of your comfort zone and try new things like crafts, growing herbs/other produce, cook more or try making your own almond milk or cheeses–You’ll be impressed with what you are capable of and honestly, you’ll probably enjoy being self-sufficient in these areas.

Being Lazy or Reverting to Old Habits

  • Making excuses.
  • Putting leisure before productivity.
  • Eating out because “I’m hungry now”.
  • Feelings of frustration resulting in inactivity

Altering decades of old habits is challenging and require constant motivation, determination, and effort.  I’ve realized that planning ahead and organization is crucial to success and includes daily journaling, meal planning, and attainable weekly goals.

Eating Out

  • Ordering takeout.
  • Avoiding straws.
  • Over-ordering.
  • Utensils
  • Refusing plastic bags

Eating out is difficult when you are trying to be zero waste.  You have to deal with disposable cups and utensils, becoming full before finishing so you are stuck with either food waste or a wasted container, straws being forced to you, and ordering takeout is completely out of the picture unless you bring your own reusable container.

I have a past addiction to Mitsuwa’s pastries, ice cream, shaved ice, and other desserts featured at Ry-Leaf.  In my continuous effort to be less wasteful, I now bring reusable cups, containers, choose a cone Vs. a cup, and request no disposable straw/utensils.

My first attempt at bringing a reusable container to Ry-Leaf started off without a struggle until the cup I had brought was too large for their machine.  The employee decided to use a styrofoam cup to transfer the ice, so without thinking, I reacted with anguish expressing that the cup was not necessary and the whole experience became awkward.

Now when I ask for a business to use my own container I instantly say “I know, I’m crazy–Don’t worry about it!” and usually go on to explain WHY I am asking them to accommodate my strange requests.



I’d like to end this post with my Earth Day messaged which was shared on Facebook:

Today is Earth Day, and while every day should focus on our precious Earth we need to all take a moment to reflect on our actions.

We all group up wasteful, we are wasteful as a species and the neglect needs to stop.

Take a moment today think of ONE thing that you can do to help Earth and all the life that struggling with it.

500 MILLION plastic straws are wasted EACH DAY. This is an easy habit to break and it all begins with REFUSING. Do you really NEED a straw? Think about it.

Plastic is killing the remaining wildlife and the oceans. If you love animals and/or love seafood, help protect them! It is our responsibility to reverse our destruction to this planet!

Thank you for reading. 

Included in the post was a button for friends to donate to the Earth Day Network.  I raised $95 including my donation of $20!

Lichen that Camera

I currently have a Samsung Galaxy S7 and still paying the sucker off — 17/23 payments. Whenever I select a new smartphone I tend to select one that has a decent camera. When I say decent camera, whatever the top reviews are from both verified sources and customer based.

My favorite phone was the Nokia Lumia 720. It was a devastating day when the screen broke, followed with a visit to a shady fix-it-up stand at the mall. After months of waiting, the “businessmen” returned my broken phone which I exchanged for a $200 return.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 is decent and captures some amazing detail with proper lighting.

I enjoy taking photos throughout the day but prefer twilight hours or just before dusk and most often at Busse Woods. Most photos include fungi, moss, flowers, dying trees, skyscapes, any opportunity for wildlife, and anything that is out of ordinary or interests me.

I’ve been exploring the market, researching DSLRs so we’ll see how the future unfolds.

🙂


I love hiking. I love the variety of scents blowing in the breeze and the many colors of Earth’s palette — it excites my senses! The scurrying of hidden lifeforms that are invisible to the naked eye, but you know they are there.

The changes of the seasons and how every day you go for a hike, it will not be like the last. New life, old life, no life.

Winter, a time of peace and solace. Hiking in winter is like going back in time, before civilization. A feeling of unity between woman and nature, and what a beautiful feeling to experience. It’s moments like these that are pure bliss and just make me melt inside.

We are near the end of April and we are expecting snow tomorrow. I worry about all the young sprouts struggling for the sun, warm weather and survival. One day the temperature will be 30°F then a day or two later it will be 60°F. One nice thing about this static weather is that it can give interesting photo opportunities.

Here are some photos from recent hiking trips.

green-lichen.jpg

The first three photos show clusters of Turkey Tail Fungi commonly found as pale white or brown. These fungi look so whimsical and elegant and can make a hike feel a little bit more like a fairy tale.

Lichen

Beauty is in all things. You just have to

50% Fungi

Below: Seaweed and remnants of fall rest below the water surface.

Seaweed Stump 2

You have to appreciate what you never look at.

sky-blue-trees-e1524105451840.jpg

What you find may surprise you.

textured-bark.jpg

Tampopo

An ode to ramen in the form of a spaghetti western?  A ramen western…  Heck yeah!

This clever film, set in 1985 Japan, tells the story of a widowed woman, Tampopo, struggling with her newfound responsibility of operating the family ramen stand alone.

One day, Tampopo fell victim to a gang of ruthless men who mocked her bowl of ramen.  To Tampopo’s surprise, she was actually the fortunate one that day, for a pair of drifting truck drivers Goro and his trusty sidekick, Gun save the day!

As Goro and Gun prepare to leave, Tampopo runs to their truck and begs for help to improve her ramen.

The movie goes into the culture of ramen for ramen is more than just a dish of food, but a piece of art that must be thought about thoroughly in detail and mastered.

Remember to slurp those noodles!

Slurping ramen noodles is key, for it not only cools down the ramen but also aerates the broth, which helps fully develop the flavors for a more palatable experience. 

There are vignettes throughout the movie that are strange and comical.  One focuses on a group of pretentious businessmen who get upstaged by a lowly employee’s culinary expertise.

FOOD FETISH ALERT!!

A primary subplot involves a gangster and his lover that use food as an aphrodisiac.

The first scene lays the lover on a bed with an overturned bowl resting on her stomach.  Inside, live shrimp thrash around in a puddle of soy sauce against her naked skin.  I wonder what that feels like?  😕

Throughout the movie Goro teaches Tampopo the secrets to the perfect ramen, through intense training which included timed meal prep, cutting pork to 3mm (no – more is not better!), running (a classic in any apprentice training motif) and spying on other ramen stands, to name a few.

This movie is for chefs, wannabe chefs, those who love ramen or adventurous spirits that enjoy silly Japanese movies with great cinematography.

I suggest finding a good ramen stand in your local area so you can enjoy the umami taste of delicious noodles and broth to curb your craving because you will NEED ramen after watching this movie.

If you are in the Chicago Suburbs, I recommend Kitakata in Hoffman Estates.  They provide great customer service, serve hot ramen, and also have a vegetarian ramen (yay!).  I have one request though, please refuse any straws!  🙂

Kitakuna Ramen.JPG

Hurry and go watch Tampopo!

Warning:  Since the movie involves cooking, there are a few graphic scenes of butchered animals… Be prepared…