Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Growing indoors all winter long... in Colorado??

Ever since the first time I saw one of these systems, I thought, "yes, one day you will have one of
those."  The day has arrived.

That first time was three years ago, when the Juice Plus Company first released The Tower Garden® as their newest product of their short list of healthy living items, and a friend came in to the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council's monthly meeting to show it off.  It wasn't just me. Everyone in the room went, "oooooh," "ahhhhh." Granted, this was a warm audience - a room packed with gardeners, local-foodies, and health nuts - but we oooh'd none the less.

For lack of space in our previous quaint home, we held off even though the Tower Garden takes up a total of maybe six square feet.  But as soon as we moved into our new home in December I knew, come fall, we'd be putting together our first Tower Garden®.  And we just did.

Let me backtrack a little; we love to garden.  As soon as the snow melted this year we began working on our three garden beds in our new yard, and all summer long we grew a lush supply of herbs, lettuces, squash, carrots, beets, beans, and more.  Despite our high mountain short growing season (50-70 days if we're lucky), Craig and I have been gardening together for nearly five years.  We love knowing where our food comes from, love putting the effort into it, and love the health it brings us. And we are set to build a greenhouse before the snow flies if possible so that we can extend that short season even longer. So we won't discontinue our outdoor crops, but supplementing them through winter is going to be splendid.

The Tower Garden® is a miracle in itself. Developed by Tim Blank, a native farmer turned inventor thanks to an inspiring trip to The Land in Disney's Epcot, the system is an aeroponic vertical grow tower that uses no dirt, 10% of the water that traditional gardening uses, and grows plants in 1/3 of the time.  Blank has been working around the clock on getting the Tower Garden® out into the world since its release, and his biggest boasts are a Tower Garden® farm atop a New York restaurant and one in the O'Hare Airport.  The 5-tiered system can be extended as far up as you have space and water-pump to go, and make the most of a small interior space because of that vertical design.

But it's great for a family, couple, or individual too.  The system is extremely easy to set up, comes with every part needed and more accessories optional if you desire, and has a timer system so you can even leave your Tower Garden® for days without worrying about watering it while you're gone. It's a great learning system for children, from planting seeds to naming plants to harvesting their fruit, schools around the country are adopting this easy system to educate with as well as even supply some food for the lunchroom. Our own Steamboat Springs Middle School has two of them.

Personally, I'm so excited for not only our own Tower Garden®, but for what's going on at our local Ski Area, too.  My dear friend Liz who is Food and Beverage Director for Steamboat Ski Area is into gardening as much as I am, and she supports local food and growing your own whenever she can. Liz got just as excited about the Tower Garden® as I did and is now the proud owner of three of them for her on-mountain restaurants - the harvests will be integrated into their food system as soon as the ski area opens at the end of next month.  Watching these grow will be just as fun as watching ours, knowing that extended reach this learning and growing tool will make in our community and all those that visit here.

This is just the beginning!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

DIY Deoderant

Great recipe from Lauren Toyota, from Clean Eating!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Just vegetables and fruits and wow...

I have recently joined a new team, for an old, trusted company, and I am excited to share our story - I was asked to do so for our team. Here's the long version (lol). 

Our Story – The Kennedys and Juice Plus

In 2008, my husband Craig broke his femur waterskiing.

Craig a T-12 paraplegic, meaning his spinal cord was severed at the Thoracic #12 vertebrae, just above his hips. Craig was injured skiing in March 1996 in Steamboat Springs, 2 years after moving to Colorado, just before his 25th birthday, and has used a wheelchair ever since. It doesn’t slow him down. It didn’t affect his love for skiing.  And it didn’t affect his soulshine.

Craig and I met in 1998, at a bar in Steamboat, and we started dating in August 2000. I fell in love with Craig because of his Can-Do contagious attitude, and immediately we started traveling together.
On an Alaska trip in 2002 we realized there was a strong need for young adventurous travelers to promote and educate about the importance of accessibility, and by 2003 we had started our company, Access Anything. We published our first travel guidebook in 2005, our second in 2007, and spent 7 great years touring the country, consulting with businesses of all sizes, creating adventure camps, and promoting adaptive travel for people with disabilities.

So in 2008, Craig was waterskiing with our “Behind the Boat” waterski camp – two days of waterskiing and wakeboarding for all abilities – when he took a bad fall and spiral-fractured his femur. At the hospital, the orthopedic surgeon said his bones were so brittle from lack of use that he could probably break Craig’s other leg with his bare hands. (Eh!) The doc prescribed calcium to Craig to help with his bone density and strength, but he wasn’t optimistic it would help. (Double eh!) Being a naturalist, we immediately went to our health network. Craig got some Chinese herbs from our acupuncturist, and we talked to everyone we knew about the calcium issue.

During that time, a friend asked us if we’d like to come to a health-talk. This was our first contact with Juice Plus. I don’t remember the speaker, but she was well connected and knowledgeable, and when Craig asked her about studies on paraplegia, calcium, and bone density, she said she’d dig up the study for him. A few weeks later, Craig provided the documentation she gave him to his workman’s comp representative and they approved Craig to go on Juice Plus’s garden and orchard blends.  All paid for!

At the time we weren’t making much money, and having this paid for by his comp was a blessing!  But other than that, we weren’t interested in, or didn’t have the time, to study the business fully – nor actually do I really remember us being particularly urged to, and so we both just split Craig’s orders – each taking one pill of each blend per day and that was it.

Two years later, in 2010 I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis – I’ve had Psoriasis since I was 14, so I knew it was likely going to hit me in my 30s, as it does with nearly half of the cases. The pain in my fingers quickly got to be unbearable, and I started to look deeply at my diet.  Immediately I went off Gluten and immediately I felt better. I lost weight, I had energy, and I was hopeful. But within a few months, the pain started creeping back. I began to look deeper at my diet and had a friend test me with reflexology on all the food in our house to see if I was missing something with gluten in it.  I went off many more foods, including the Juice Plus, and Craig started taking his full dosage of the reds and greens.

That year we joined a CSA and began eating a lot more vegetables, as well as cutting out most grains. Over the next 18 months I tried two anti-inflammatory “diets” (GAPS and SCD Diet) and would feel good for a while, and then would cheat, would feel deprived, would crave sugar, or caffeine, or even (gasp) donuts. I never got formally tested because the test was too expensive despite our insurance.
The next summer we traded in our CSA due to increased costs and joined a garden share; we grew our own vegetables there, as well as building a raised bed for the quick-fix needs (tomatoes!) on our deck. But the more I read about anti-inflammatory diets, the more things I had to cut out. And the depriving myself was greatly affecting my emotions.

Eventually I settled. I found a happy medium between eating what I wanted (mostly) and living with a dull pain in my hands and feet. When it would get really bad, I’d eat minimally for a week, until it was better. When I look back, I see, this is no way to live.

Meanwhile, Craig was thriving. Over the last six years, Craig rarely got sick, he quickly began to eat more fruit and vegetables, he craved less sugar, he reached for bananas instead of cereal in the morning, and got regular about hitting the gym. He challenged himself with long handcycle rides, and he found a healthy weight and held it.  It didn’t dawn on us that that was because of Juice Plus.
In 2013 I began to see a Biontologist and felt somewhat better from her treatments – pain wasn’t my only symptom- I was tired, I had missed many periods, I was bloated and had gained weight, and I was seemingly allergic to a lot of food -  but her treatments really didn’t touch the pain in my hands and feet except during flare-ups – which then it would only abate slightly.

That said, after nearly a year of talking about symptoms, she finally realized that all my symptoms led to one thing – my thyroid.  Even though my typical blood work was always normal, this year she had my doctors test my Free T3 and T4. Sure enough they were bottom of the barrel. 

I was diagnosed HypoThyroid – and the symptoms can be all of the above. I was thrilled with a diagnosis and felt I was finally on my way to recovery.  As I’ve said, being a “naturalist” for over 20 years I decided to go on the herbs first. Instantly I began to feel better. Shortly after my body told me to muscle test the Juice Plus again and my body seemed to resonate with it again. So I signed up as a distributor and started taking it. One month into it, and my joints already feel better.

And that’s just the health piece for us.

After we closed the doors of Access Anything in 2012 because Craig had gone full time as Program Director for Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports, I struggled with what I was supposed to do next.

For 20 years I have been a photographer and designer, and I have my own businesses, AJDesign and Photography, and I love it, but it’s very part time.  I do love photography but I don’t think I’d want to do it full time, and where I thrive in my business is teaching women to own their presence on the internet through marketing, social media, and web design and email tools.

In addition, for over a decade I have been very focused on natural healing and living, and I have another personal business, Innerself Lightworks, that focuses on many aspects of moving to alignment, through clearings, healings, and workshops.  And in one of my classes, Moving into Synchronicity, two of the 10 modules are about the importance of fruits and vegetables and tuning into nature. But that is also part time.

Full time (well, relatively), I am the Program and Marketing Director for the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council, a non profit organization that focuses on a dozen sustainable efforts from energy and waste reduction to planting trees and local foods. I love my job.

All three of these, plus my husbands income, should more than make ends meet for a couple without kids. But surprisingly, it doesn’t. 

So when Lauri sat me down and told me about the business side of Juice Plus I was instantly intrigued. I felt a surge of connection to spirit, a big hit on the unlimited potential, and immediately saw the vision of a large team of sisters supporting each other. I felt supported. The more I researched and listened to, the more I felt like this was my next step. I’m excited when I talk about it, and I’m sure that enthusiasm is something you’ve all experienced if you’re already a distributor, and I’m also sure that some of my friends and family think I’m nuts. As you probably also are familiar with. But I’m ok with that.  I really do feel like everything I’ve done in the past ten years or more has brought me here – as I’ve heard a lot in the last month, it’s all about timing – divine timing. And I am excited to walk this path with with my new team!

To my team: Thank you for supporting me – even if I don’t know you, I feel this network is amazing and I feel it’s powerful upliftment already. The world is our oyster, and I can’t wait to open it.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Calling all Calligraphers - Speedball Text submission for 100th anni!

Just in from the Colorado Calligrapher's Guild

We are working on an official ‘call-for-entries’ with more detailed information, which will be posted on the Speedball Art Products website ( the first week in September. If you or someone you know would like to receive a call-for-entry via e-mail, please send the e-mail address to

In conjunction with the new book, we are planning a website which will have instructional videos and copies of as many of the older editions as we can locate. We are hoping to find someone with copies of the first seven editions (they are horizontal), so please let us know if you have any of these early treasures.

The Speedball Textbook book has always been a reflection of the lettering of its time. This special Centennial Edition is our collective legacy - a record of lettering today and an invaluable resource for students of all ages and levels. We invite you to be part of it, and look forward to receiving your suggestions and submissions next month. Please do NOT send any artwork at this time.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Hypothyroidism affects 45 million of you

My lesson learned in the last four years is that only YOU will advocate the most for your health. Only YOU know your body best. Know when something is wrong, despite negative tests, medical brush-offs, and a lot of "yeah I have that too, nothing helps." Keep searching for the answer, because healing is within your power, and starts from within.

30 million women and 15 million men are affected by a low thyroid - known as hypothyroidism - caused by toxic environments, stress, and a poor food system.

Four or five years ago (lost track) my the symptoms started with swollen, painful joints, which lead to the discovery of a gluten intolerance, so I cut out wheat, but the symptoms eventually returned about a year later. So then I cut out all grains, then sugar, then caffeine. Nothing made me feel better, just deprived. I was put on Vitamin D. Vitamin B. Nettles. Apple Cider Vinegar. Probiotics. Nothing made me feel better, just over medicated. I tried more exercise, but I was always tired. I even ran my first 5K this spring, but hated every minute of the training. At some point - 18 months ago? - I became addicted to caffeine because nothing else worked. (Surely that made my adrenals worse.) I looked closely at my dental health and had a bad tooth removed. Finally, my periods stopped a decade too early.

During this time, in addition to my general practitioner, I saw an acupuncturist, a naturopath, an ayurvedic doctor, and finally a biontologist. After a year of seeing her and dissecting every symptom, my Biontologist told me to get my thyroid tested - but not the normal test they do - test Free T3 and Free T4 she said. So I did. They were way low. Finally we are connecting the dots. I see a specialist next week but already I feel like I'm on the road to recovery and I hope by posting this, you already are too.

Check your symptoms and start to plan the road to recovery: 

Try holistic methods:
Armour Thyroid

And if you don't want to go natural, read the warnings about the drugs , Thyrolar and Synthroid to decide if doing the western way is right for you.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Henna Workshop, Moab Utah

Yesterday was my first Magic of Henna workshop with a great group of women in Moab, hosted by the Moonflower Market and Henna Sooq, and what an exciting afternoon it was!  I was thrilled that over half of the women who attended wanted to jump right in and try it then and there (I had planned on just doing a strand of hair with them)!  All of the participants had similar stories - either they dyed their hair with chemicals and wanted to switch to something natural for various reasons such as burning scalp, or they were sick of the gray and wanted to try something natural. Either way, they were all very eager and willing subjects - so awesome!

All had brown hair and wanted to keep their brown color so we used a lot of indigo yesterday - more than I had anticipated - so some of them with longer, thicker hair were going to have to likely do a second round soon, but were ok with doing the top part of their hair.

I started out with all my research - the history, the Ayurvedic/medicinal benefits, types of henna and other plants we use for dying naturally, as well as all the other wonderful ingredients you can get from the girls at Henna Sooq, my fave provider!  Henna Sooq had sent a box of awesome samples - Sweet Orange essential oil, small sample of Rajasthani Henna, Argan shampoo bar - so we passed those out as well.

Then as I said, they jumped right in!  That morning I had activated about 200 grams of Rajasthani Indian red henna that was ready to go, which Moonflower sells in bulk, and during the workshop we quickly activated the 100g of Indigo and didn't need to activate any of the Cassia since everyone went with a 60/40 indigo/henna recipe for chestnut brown results.

So far one woman has stopped by the store to show off her new color already and I'm proud to say she "is very happy with the results, and will try the henna process again." Her scalp did not burn like when dyed with chemicals, and the henna straightened her hair out just a bit and her hair felt soft, not stripped.

A big thanks to Moonflower and Eula for hosting this great afternoon, for Alicia for connecting me with this great community, and to Henna Sooq for providing these ladies with some fabulous samples to take home.

YAY!  Henna is empowering! Henna is liberating!  Henna is natural!   Time to host a workshop like this in Steamboat!!

All #henna posts:
1- About Henna and my process
2- The first dying
3- Other products from Henna Sooq
4- Cleansing and Independence
5- Applications update
6- Another Henna convert!

Friday, February 21, 2014

The favorite shoot...

A lot of people ask me what I like to shoot best.  I'll be first to admit, I'm a super lucky girl when it comes to photography (among many things in my life) - I grew up behind the lens on that super-tough stuff called film in the darkroom, I studied under an Ansel Adams long-time apprentice, and under several other great teachers, too. I have a degree in Visual Arts, and one more for good measure in Travel Photography. I'm well traveled.  And to me, what this all means the most is practice.  And practice always leads somewhere. I've been published, awarded, and covered.  I'm the volunteer Event Photographer for STARS, and as Marketing Director for YVSC I get to shoot all our events too. And on the side, I shoot for a little extra business here and there... a wedding a year, some headshots, some homes, some pets, some food, and random fun calls for things like engagement shoots or new skis, or an occasional instructional session... and I truly do love all of it.  So it's hard to choose, and my answer usually just depends on my mood. If it's a nice day outside, I'll probably say "nature," but if it's snowing, "my favorite monoskier."  If we're on the road, "travel," but if I'm having tea with a girlfriend, "food."

Mostly though you can tell what someone loves shooting best because their pictures in that category are just that much better. The love pours into the lens, and out onto the paper (or screen).  Ansel Adams is a prime example; his answer would surely be "nature." Or "Montana."  So for those who ask because they are aspiring to become a professional photographer, my one suggestion is find what you love and do that. Don't shoot weddings because they make good money. Don't be a photo journalist because you need validation. Shoot what you love and the money will follow.

And most of those same people ask me if I could I do it full time (or more ask, should they)? Well I've never tried, so I couldn't recommend it or not, but I like so many other things that I think I wouldn't like being behind the lens 25+ hours a week (and editing for twice more).  But they say you don't know until you've tried.  For me, so much of my photographic success is having the freedom to, or not to, and that has always been important to me; not shooting under deadline or with a specific "money shot" hanging in the balance. But for you, that might actually motivate you, you might rise to the pressure.  So again, shoot what you love and practice practice practice and the rest - money shots and all - will follow.

But if I must... what bubbles to the top for me though... food, families, and fun!

Created with flickr slideshow.

Created with flickr slideshow.

Created with flickr slideshow.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Another henna convert!

As you know from many blog posts about it, I am ecstatic about henna and what it's done for me, in order of importance: the overall health of my hair and scalp, the all-natural solution, the compliments-attracting color, the independence, the low cost... so of course, for all those reasons I am forever talking it up to my girlfriends - whether they already dye their hair or not, but especially if they do.  So far I have three friends who have gone with henna after my encouragement and all of them have gorgeous, lustrous, vibrant hair of various colors now!

To continue to add validity to this topic, here's the story from the latest convert:  (Thanks Alicia for sharing!!)
My henna experience….
Alicia Wright of Bella Sol Spa 

I have to say first and foremost, I love henna! At first, I was nervous about my hair turning red, and I was not ready to take the plunge.  The grey hair that crept up on my head as my roots grew out had me frantic about solutions.

Not having the right timing with my trusted hair diva, not to mention all the time/money spent over the years, pushed me beyond my comfort zone.  But I was not ready to embrace the grey, so the idea of using henna got more and more enticing. Andy’s research, experience and gentle nudge were great resources and an inspiration to go for it.

I ordered the ingredients from for my desired hair color (recipe below), and the decision was made! Per Andy’s advice I watched various You Tube videos and found them quite entertaining! (Favorite video)  This gave me the confidence and the preview of what I was in store for. When my box arrived…I was so excited to get started!

With Andy’s help and the Henna Sooq website, I was able to get a good formula for dark brown: 1 part (100 grams) henna, 1 part cassia, 1 part indigo, ¼ part amla (for curls).  First I mixed the henna and let it activate for 4 hours, then mixed in the rest of the ingredients.  The smells were so earthy and felt so great in my hair.  It wasn’t as messy or as hard as I had expected.  I actually found the process of adding henna to each strand of hair to be quite satisfying!  After letting this mixture sit in my hair for 4 hours, I was intrigued with the anticipation of how henna would react with my hair.

The color was so rich and my hair felt so much thicker and healthier. I am so pleased with the results of henna, no more grey, and I'm no longer on anyone else’s time schedule.  I am empowered! I love the freedom as well as the ability to inspire others to do the same!  I love that henna is healthy for me and my hair, that it is practiced in the global community with ancient roots, and that there is so much more to discover.  Henna is where it is at!  YES!


Isn't that just awesome!!!  My favorite quote of Alicia's: "that it is practiced in the global community with ancient roots!"

Yes!  If you too have switched to Henna because of these blog posts, please reach out!  I'd love for you to share! 

And stay tuned for more on Henna soon - I embark on my first Henna Workshop teaching experience this weekend in Moab, Utah!  Big shout out to Henna Sooq for sending me west with a box of awesome samples for the ladies!!
[Henna workshop post is live now here!]

Alicia's new hair looks GROOVY!  She went bold with red at the workshop!

Friday, January 17, 2014

My Switch to All Natural Henna (Part 5)

View previous posts on Henna:
1- About Henna and my process
2- The first dying
3- Other products from Henna Sooq
4- Cleansing and Independence

It's been almost a year since my last Henna post and I realized I have a few things to report that might be useful!

If you've read the other posts, you'll know I'm a meticulous person. I like researching something until I know it fully, and then I like developing my own process and adapting it. I was made for an R&D department, unfortunately I'm not in that career, oh well. Accordingly, I've studied Henna until I'm blue in the face. I've found an awesome provider at Henna Sooq (my only complaint is that they run out of the good stuff so you have to plan ahead, a funny story on that to follow). And I've tried several new hair products now so that I'm proud to say there are no chemicals on my head any more. After two years, I feel I have this process honed. Here's what I continue to learn about this awesome process...

Applications UpdateI alternate between going to my hair tech Teresa and doing the roots myself, and earlier this month was my 10th application, where Teresa did just the roots for the first time (usually she does my whole head). We both agreed that I probably don't need to do my whole head but once or twice a year now. However we also both agreed that the gray has multiplied - as it will continue to do, alas we all know it! - and I probably need to shrink my application gap from 8-10 weeks to 6. So that either means doing the roots myself more, or having Teresa do them. She appreciated the shortened process for sure - her arms get tired applying 200-250g of Henna mud to my whole head of thick long hair, so doing just the 30-50g of Henna on the roots was a cakewalk for her, and she did it about 15-20 minutes quicker than I can. Another note, when doing just the roots, you can wash it off quicker - I let it go 3.5 hours this time - and it comes off so much easier.

Something I do and greatly suggest, I keep a Henna journal in my Evernote so I can access it on my phone or my computers. I track the date and moon, whether I cut or just dye, the Henna recipe/quantities, the length I leave it on my hair, and the color results. (See what I meant by meticulous?) For me though, this helps me not only hone in the color for myself based on the season (for instance sometimes the Cassia, sometimes not because of the sun's already lightening rays), but it also helps me compare the results for my friends who are also converting to Heana.

Other things I've noticed this year:
  • Henna doesn't run down the tub like the synthetic dyes used to - there's a light wash out the first wash, and then that's it. It used to be that the red would run like blood down my drain for 2-3 weeks of washing with the synthetic dyes. It's a vast improvement now. 
  • Henna doesn't stain my towels like the synthetic dyes used to either - on a pure white hotel towel, there's a tiny bit of orange through the first week of washes, but unnoticeable on my green towels at home.  It also washes out just fine without bleach from the white towels - IE it doesn't stain permanently. 
  • We're all used to the smell by now but agree it's like hay steaming in a hot barn, LOL. Very earthy.
  • Because Henna Sooq runs out of the red products - Red Raj and Indian Rajasthani, I buy 300-400g at once and use 200 for a whole head process, then get about 3-4 root repeats out of the remainder - meaning I only need to buy from them 2-3 times a year. 

However on that last note - I waited too long the last time and the Henna supply was late coming into Henna Sooq, so I had long embarrassing roots this last November. I had dyed the roots myself in September before we went on vacation, (actually it was August 31 according to my Henna Tracker), and Henna Sooq expected their stock to come in around October 1st. But it was delayed, and delayed, and I finally got my order in around October 23rd, and didn't get Teresa to do my whole head until early November, just under 10 weeks later. I made clear to myself I would never let that happen again and am already on the radar to order again in February when their stock comes in even though my Feb application is the leftovers of that October order. (I had a January 2nd roots dye done with leftovers as well).  So order big and often from Henna Sooq!

Cleansing Update
I still love the Soapnut Bar. I primarily use this, unless I really need a deep cleanse and then I still use the Diva Curl products. I do use the Diva Curl deep conditioner for the Henna rinse out, but much less, and on a regular basis, I follow the Soapnut Bar with the Oyin Honey Hemp Conditioner, which I love - you don't have to use much of, my first bottle lasted a whole year (12 oz). I actually apply it wet in the shower but leave it in most of the time. When I bought my second bottle, I ordered their Hair Dew and love it. Now I switch between that and the Cocoveda Oil after a wash to give my hair some shine and reduce the fizz.

For someone with much finer and thinner hair than mine however, these products might be too heavy for them - except maybe the Hair Dew, which is very light, so order samples of the bars to see which one is right for you.

Other notes: 
My hair is extremely healthy. I get split ends after 3-4 months of not cutting, so I maintain a good trim, but I am not oil-treating my hair anymore. The Henna really does my scalp good too - no more itching. My hair is smooth and shiny all the time.

So far I've converted about 4 friends to the process only. It's labor intensive, so many people just don't want to bother. But knowing that I have no chemicals in my world make all the difference to me, so I'm glad for the products in my life and happy to share the knowledge.

Accordingly, I have been asked - yay! - to go speak to a group of women in Moab, Utah about Henna and am super excited to have a fun workshop on the topic.  Stay tuned for pictures and a report back after February!