30 Before 30 – Chapter 2

If you have read my post 30 Before 30, you will remember that I have set myself a little challenge to read 30 books before my 30th birthday. I turn 30 in exactly one year. At present, I have about 17 books to go. 20140107-100117.jpg

A few months ago, I was feeling slightly nervous about reaching my goal. I realized that as my goal is a certain number of total books, I should perhaps avoid the urge to embark on adventures with massive tomes. The books of A Song of Ice and Fire took up much of my time in the past few months. For the last few weeks I have decided to focus on shorter, or in comparison to the massive Storm of Swords, normal length books.

8. Around the World in 80 Days – Jules Verne

80-daysI love travel, and I love reading books set in times gone by. Having read some Sherlock Holmes and loved it, I thought it would be a short hop from Sir ACD to Jules. I loved the writing style and the character development Verne employs. The voyage is an adventure from the first, and doesn’t fail to disappoint. What I found interesting was the worldview of life at the height of British colonialism. “Natives” are painted in a very antiquated light. What I loved was the charm of old fashioned modes of transportation such as trains, steam liners, and at one point, a gigantic elephant. It seems likely that many of the people, places, and animals that Verne wrote about he never witnessed with his own eyes. There are various points that feel fantastical, as if inflated as a result of the communication grapevine. I am still extremely confused as to why so many depictions of this book include a hot air balloon.

9. The Mysterious Island – Jules Verne

mysterious island

Well, I finally got the hot air balloon action I was looking for! A group of castaways ride a hot air balloon in a hurricane to a remote island in the Pacific Ocean. Stranded without almost any belongings (they tossed them out of the balloon to stay aloft until they spotted land), they must create shelter, find food, and stay alive on this mysterious island. They explore the island, name all of the features for ease of communication, and build an ingenious home inside of a cave up on a mountain and under a waterfall. From their first few days on the island, some very “singular” things happen to them and their belongings, leaving them to wonder if they really are alone on this seemingly deserted island. I absolutely LOVED it. This was one of the most engaging, exciting, and fun books I’ve read in a long time. It is an easy read once you get past the old-fashioned phrases and the scientific language. This is true science fiction. Some of the science available to Verne in his day has since changed, or been proved wrong. Often he sites species names and classifies them in families that they are not associated with in the present day. If you need more to entice you to read this book, consider the following list of attributes from the tale and just TRY not to get excited: great characters, an orangutan servant, jungles, exotic animals, science, beaches, pirates, secret caves, a volcano, messages in a bottle, mystery!!!

10. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea – Jules Verne


After loving The Mysterious Island, I wanted to keep going on my Verne kick, and 20,000 Leagues seemed like a good choice in keeping with the nautical theme. The descriptions of the settings are extraordinary. The futuristic-old-timey science & technology is incredible and engaging. In retrospect, I wish I had read 20,000 Leagues before The Mysterious Island. Primarily because I just don’t think any of the Verne voyages can top The Mysterious Island. Just trust me: if you’re intrigued and would like to read either, start with this.

11. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

This one has been a long time in coming. I started Memoirs way back before reading ASOIAF (aka the Game of Thrones books) but I got to one particularly unnerving tale and had to take a break. If you’ve seen the BBC series Sherlock, you will be familiar with John’s practice of blogging about the cases he shares with Sherlock. The original books are presented as Watson’s written account of various cases. Since each chapter is the telling of a different case, sometimes a good deal of time passes between cases, and often there is not much detail concerning the private lives of Holmes and Watson. For all of the Sherlock fans out there, the original books are a must-read. Although episodes of the show are often combinations of various original cases updated for the modern world, the end of this book corresponds with the end of season 2 of Sherlock.

12. The Return of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

After making it through Memoirs, I moved on to the next series of cases in the Holmes tomes: The Return of Sherlock Holmes. For all of you Sherlock series fans out there, you might have guessed that this series starts off as season 3 does, with the return of Sherlock Holmes! After two years away, John Watson is confronted with the news that his friend Sherlock Holmes somehow survived a fall that he had thought would have meant certain death. I can tell you that in the book, John is not nearly as upset as he is in the tv series!

13. The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien

I won’t say much here, as the ending is a mystery to those who are not familiar with the story. I wouldn’t want to spoil the third (!!!) movie for you! I absolutely love the Lord of the Rings movies. I have the extended editions with the millions of hours of bonus features and everything! I just LOVE the world that Tolkien created. When I saw the first Hobbit movie in theaters, I was in heaven. Now, having read the book, I can see where many people get a little grumpy about the length of the theatrical Hobbit. There is some serious stretching and embellishing going on. I don’t care. I love both!

30 Before 30

This July, I decided to make sure to read 30 books before I turn 30 (at that time a year and a half away). I was inspired by one of the many posts on ‘books to read in your twenties’ pinned to Pinterest. My original inspiration has since been swallowed up by copycat posts and may be lost to the island of things that used to be on the internet. 20140107-100117.jpg

For many people, 30 books may easily be read in one year, or even a few months or weeks. My schedule doesn’t allow for as much binge reading as I used to do as a kid. I work full time, spend long hours improving my health and the health of others by running my health coaching practice, and I have many various hobbies including cooking and lots of crafting. And as I haven’t been able to get into audiobooks to listen to whilst cooking or crafting, reading time is at a premium. The majority of my reading happens in bed, either at the end of my day, or during the day if I’m under the weather. I am not pushing myself to read 30 new-to-me books, or setting a list that I must accomplish. Simply reading through 30 books will do it.

My resolve set, I went to my book case to see if I had anything I was in the mood for.

1. My Life in France – by Julia Child

Luckily, this book had been passed on to me a few years ago, and I had never got around to reading it. What a joy! I mean, who doesn’t love Julia Child?!?! Her descriptions of her experience in France as a new wife and an American living abroad are fantastic. Reading this book made me want to go to France, learn French, and add butter to everything I cook. It is a memoir in the voice of Julia Child, so there is personality plus! I felt so uplifted and motivated after reading this book. I was really refreshing. I also couldn’t help narrating my own life in my head for a few days afterward!

A must-read for anyone who is a fan of food, France, travel, unlikely protagonists, or Mrs. Child herself.

2. A Game of Thrones – Book One of A Song of Ice and Fire – George R. R. Martin

I am one of many who fell in love with the HBO series “Game of Thrones” immediately. My room mate had read all of the books, and after two seasons of the show, I became increasingly eager to find out what happens to the characters next. Since our room mate’s copy was on loan at the time, my boyfriend bought us each a copy of A Game of Thrones, so we could read it at the same time, but at our own pace. He didn’t make it all the way through the book. I think if I wasn’t already familiar with most of the characters, I wouldn’t have either. George R. R. Martin published this book in 1996, and his writing style was clunky and awkward for me. The majority of the writing deals with events between characters, and there is very little description of the setting and the appearance of the characters. In this case, I was grateful to have seen a visual representation of the book before reading the actual text.

3. A Clash of Kings – Book Two of A Song of Ice and Fire – George R. R. Martin

Because I was determined to gain insight into the future of GoT characters beyond the third season, I marched on to the second volume of ASoIaF. I was pleased to learn many details that were left out of the HBO series, and extra-pleased that the writing seemed to be a bit better.

4. A Storm of Swords – Book Three of A Song of Ice and Fire – George R. R. Martin

Things started to get juicy with this book! In fact, I have recommended to multiple people who couldn’t make it through the first book, but love the TV series, to start here and read books 3-5. This book is so long that in some countries it is split in two volumes! The first half covers the events in HBO’s season 3 of Game of Thrones. The second half…. YES! All of the awesome future events that I was waiting for! At last! It was fantastic. I read late into the night. I moved on to the next immediately!

5. A Feast for Crows – Book Four of A Song of Ice and Fire – George R. R. Martin

Better writing, more excitement, MUCH more to contain in order to not spoil the plot for my TV-series-only-viewing boyfriend. Luckily I have my room mate to spill my excitement & frustration with! More characters die, more are introduced, it’s the George R. R. Martin circle of life.

6. A Dance With Dragons – Book Five of A Song of Ice and Fire – George R. R. Martin

This one was tough to get through. Not because it wasn’t awesome. It. Was. Awesome. So awesome in fact, that I tried to savor every last page and stretch it out as long as possible. If you work your way through the Song of Ice and Fire series, I recommend taking your time with books 4 & 5 especially. So much happens to so many characters, you may need to double-back to remind yourself of past events. Savor A Dance With Dragons because it could be ten years before George gets around to finishing the next book! (But seriously, I hope not.)

7. There’s More to Life Than This – Theresa Caputo

My boyfriend and I are obsessed with Theresa Caputo’s show The Long Island Medium, on TLC. (Ok maybe I’m a little more obsessed than he is….) The title of the show basically gives you a clue as to what the series looks like: out-of-this-world Long Island woman with fake nails and gigantic hair, gives messages from the afterlife to the living. Every episode is a tear-jerker, and they just make me feel good. I have suffered two huge and unexpected losses in the past two years, and as part of my healing process, I have educated myself on what happens after death. I have a very scientific brain, but I am also very open to possibilities and believe that there are many forces at work around us that we can not prove scientifically or make complete sense of. I believe in reincarnation, and I believe that between lives our spirits hang out and participate in some of the activities here on Earth in Spirit form. Theresa’s book left me with two lingering ideas: 1. The soul chooses when to be born and when to die, and frequently, it chooses a death option that would be the least harmful to their family. This point resonated with me because both of the recent deaths in my family have been “freak” events. I was left wondering why they happened to someone in my family. But now I believe that their souls chose to leave in a way that was not anyone’s “fault” in order to leave the family just in grief and not in grief and feud. 2. I feel the need to examine my spirituality and belief system. Theresa was raised Catholic, and she brings in a lot of religious ideas and figures from her religion. She does try to express that what she sees and feels from the other side is filtered through her Catholic lens, but it is really more universal. Still, she is unwavering on her portrayal of God as a singular force of good and light of which our souls are a very small part of. This was not the first time I had read this theory. I was left with a lingering sense of wondering what I believe and what I am willing to open my mind to.

Blueberry Peach Smoothie

Woooo! It’s hot out there today! Chill out with an icy-cool smoothie like this delightful blueberry peach version:Blueberry-Peach Smoothie

1 cup peach juice or nectar

1/2 cup frozen blueberries (I used wild Maine bluebs)

1/2 cup frozen peaches

1/2 banana (I used room temp but you could use frozen)
a few drops vanilla extractoptional:

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp powdered ginger


blend until smooth, enjoy immediately!


(Makes 1 full-sized smoothie – much larger than in my pics! I just got so excited that I drank most of it before I thought of snapping some photos!)


From Inspiration to In-Your-Mouth

As a health coach, I am constantly posting recipes and food-spiration to help my clients make healthy food choices. Teaching others to eat healthfully inspires me to eat clean, fresh foods. Recently, I took on four new clients who are starting their health coaching programs with sessions focused around upgrading their food. Two weeks ago, we focused on greens. This week, we are exploring whole grains (while continuing to add in greens). At both sessions, many clients found inspiration in trying greens and grains that they had never had, or heard of. This inspired me to try some greens and grains that I had never tried to cook at home before. The only gluten free grain that fit these conditions was millet. I decided to try mustard greens since I LOVE arugula and was intrigued by a spicy green.

My inspiration came when I was putting together Pinterest boards of recipes using whole grains. I came across this mouth-watering photo:

Scallops over Rye Berries Doesn’t that look FABULOUS?!!?

(See the original pin here.) This little beauty is scallops over rye berries with spinach and pomegranate.

I can’t eat rye berries on account of the gluten. But I do LOVE scallops. So I started thinking about how I could modify this recipe to be gluten free. If I replaced the wheat berries with millet, the texture would be very different. Millet is smaller and softer, and it looked to me a bit like couscous. I know when I used to eat couscous, I liked it with veggies and cheese. I had some veggies in the fridge, as well as some delectable smoked gruyere. (YUM!)

When I got to the store, I grabbed my millet and mustard greens and headed to the seafood department. There were about 5 big, juicy scallops staring me down, looking awesome, until I spotted the price $13/lb! Not so awesome. I’m a girl on a bit of a budget, so I had to think quickly and come up with a backup plan. Spotting some catfish at $7/lb, I picked up two small filets. The natural flavor of catfish is more mild than scallops, so I had to modify my recipe plans a bit further. I decided to do a cajun seasoning on the catfish, and pick up some sweet corn to toss in the millet to add a little southern style sweet-and-spicy action to the dish.

cajun catfish

cajun catfish

diced veggies

diced veggies




veggie sautee

smoked gruyere

smoked gruyere







I headed home and got to cooking! I got a pot of water boiling and added the millet, turning down the heat to low and covering it for twenty minutes. I heated my oven to 450 degrees and rubbed my catfish with cajun spices, thyme and a little rosemary, as well as a squirt of lime juice. I wrapped my fish in tin foil and popped it in for 12 minutes. Then I chopped up a little red onion, orange bell pepper, crimini mushrooms and garlic. I sautéed the veggies in a little olive oil with a sprinkle of rosemary and chopped up some gruyere. I grabbed my catfish out of the oven and opened the foil to let the steam out while I chopped a few sprigs of mustard greens and got my plate ready.

I stirred the veggies into the millet and spooned some onto my plate (bowl?). I topped the mixture with some chopped gruyere, then mustard greens, and laid my cajun catfish fillet right on top.

millet and vegetables

millet and vegetables

The end result was DELICIOUS! The spicy catfish paired well with the sass of the mustard greens. The creamy gruyere enhanced the millet. The sweetness of the corn and cheese complimented the spicy components. There was a nice interplay of the smoky cajun spices and the smoked gruyere. This dish made me feel GREAT because the millet was like an indulgent comfort food, while the greens and fish were lean and fresh.

millet mixture and gruyere

millet mixture and gruyere

adding the mustard greens

adding the mustard greens




end result

end result











Now. I realize that the way that I come up with recipes does not work for everybody. Some of you need more structure. Some of you are not able to veer from the path of your recipe. If that is the case, I implore you to challenge yourself. Switch out one green for a different green. Trade proteins or grains. Change one vegetable. Try it. Take a deep breath. Taste your creation.

Happy cooking!

Top Tips for Healthy Eating

Last Thursday I had the great pleasure of speaking to six classes of students at Brattleboro Union High School. I spoke to students in health class as part of nutrition week. It was a phenomenal honor to be able to educate young people on the benefits of holistic wellness. We went over the differences in the USDA My Plate Graphic and the Integrative Nutrition Plate. I believe that it is extremely important to educate young people on the benefits of whole grains vs. processed grains and water vs. dairy. I had a blast teaching these theories and seeing heads bobbing in acknowledgment! I think the information that I presented breaks down what to eat in a way that is more instinctual and less cerebral.

As my gift to you, I would like to share the tips that I concluded my lecture with. I hope that these tips will help to inform the choices that you make and lead gradually to a future of greater total body wellness through nutrition. Please share, print out, bookmark, etc.

With love,



-choose foods without labels (fresh vegetables, fruits)

-if there is a label, make sure you can read and understand all of the ingredients

-choose a variety of colors (of produce) for maximum nutrient consumption

-eat mindfully – pay attention to the way your food looks and tastes, chew, and relax

-listen to your body – observe how you feel physically and emotionally after eating

-eat foods that make you feel vibrant, energetic, and clear-headed and happy!

-90/10 diet – eat healthy (organic if possible) whole foods 90% of the time – 10% of the time you get to indulge

Raw Dessert Workshop with Eden Love


This gallery contains 7 photos.

Last weekend, I had the absolute pleasure of attending a raw desert workshop at Equilibrium, led by the fabulous Eden Love of Love Alive Raw Foods. It was delicious, interactive, educational, and fun! Did I mention delicious? I was so full … Continue reading

Hurry Up and Slow Down!

It is suddenly winter here in Southern Vermont! But only a little. It snowed. It stuck. It’s official. (So what if it was gone the next day?) 😉

The day before the forecast I realized that I needed to finish up some projects that I have been procrastinating on since the lazy, hazy summer was still lingering. Most glaringly: lawn debris! Walking back from the mailbox, and with the forecast looming in my mind, I said to myself “OK! Real talk time: this stuff could be buried under a foot (I exaggerate in my mind… Don’t we all?) of snow and ice tomorrow! I need to kick it into high gear! It’s time to ride that autumn wave of productivity and clean up my yard, and house before winter is fully here and all I want to do is curl up in my house/cave!!!”

It is time to pull out that dusty to-do list, and scratch off a few stragglers so that the holidays and the winter months may pass peacefully. Aren’t you getting the urge to snuggle up on the couch with a good book and a cup of cocoa just about every day now?! Before you hunker down for good, get some final housekeeping (literal and figurative) done, and you’ll lift a weight off of your shoulders.

get ready to relax!

get ready to relax!

Hurry UP! And then, slow down.

I know I will!

1. make a to-do list

2. complete a few tasks

3. get the ball rolling on a few more tasks that will take time and other forces to come to completion

4. feel great about tackling those tasks!

5. relax!

Wishing you all the motivation, celebration and peace possible! I’m rooting for you!


Learning to assert our own personal boundaries is often a life-long process. We begin (often clumsily) as children: shoving others out of our personal bubble, crying when some other kid takes our toys, leaning over someone to grab the book that we want (elbowing them in the face in the process)…

At home, we learn to draw boundaries around our beds, bedrooms, diaries and physical property. By middle school, we are learning how to assert our boundaries surrounding our rapidly changing physical bodies. In high school, our sexuality blossoms and boundaries may be greatly challenged.

In young adulthood, we struggle with asserting our independence, needs, and wishes with a variety of people: our bosses, co-workers, house mates, and family. At this stage of life, we are thrust into a life of greater responsibility.

We have to learn what our wishes and needs are, as well as what we don’t want in our lives, in order to recognize and assert our boundaries. A person who is not very self aware will have a hard time asserting appropriate boundaries. A common response is to set hard and fast general boundaries that may be interpreted as being stubborn and withdrawn. An equally common response is to set no or very little boundaries. This person will have a hard time saying “no” and is often engaged in various activities with a wide range of people all the time. They will always help you (and everyone else in their lives) no matter the circumstances, and ask nothing in return.

don’t let turkeys push your boundaries

I have recently been challenged with drawing boundaries around my personal self and business self. Starting my own health coaching practice has required my face, name, and contact information to be blasted all over my (physical and online) community. I can not hide from dangers and stress. I must face it head-on, or risk tarnishing my professional name. Don’t get me wrong, I am still just an ordinary person, who sometimes pays her bills late, forgets to bring back library books, and occasionally sleeps through her alarm.  Continue reading

Wednesday’s Workshop Teaser

This Wednesday, November 7th from 5:30-6:30pm at Equilibrium on Elm St in Brattleboro, VT, I will be leading part two of my recent workshop series: Happy, Healthy Holidays. This workshop will focus on managing stress during the holiday season. We will cover a variety of topics for total-body wellness during the most wonderful (and also most stressful) time of the year.

  • Explore how to interact with friends and family members in a healthy manner.
  • Learn a variety of relaxation techniques to keep your stress level low.
  • Discover the connections between stress and food, and how to avoid weight gain this holiday season.
  • Contemplate strategies for shifting focus from money and gifts, to love, goodwill, and the magic of the season.

If you are in the greater Brattleboro area, I hope to see you this Wednesday for this important workshop. The cost is only $6, and you will receive a copy of the presentation afterward to review the information covered in your own home.

For those of you who are not local to Brattleboro, or who are not able to attend, I am looking into offering both Part One: Healthy Hosting and Guesting (covering healthy cooking for the holidays) and Part Two: Happy Holidays as online workshops. Stay posted.