Friday, September 04, 2009

Go Greens!

Look at the beautiful greens in our garden! Funny thing is, I never really thought of greens as beautiful before. We didn't have greens growing in our garden when I was a kid, and I have never had a desire to eat greens. My husband is from the South and LOVES greens and wanted room reserved in our humble garden for those bitter, yucky leaves.

I have since changed my mind and have grown to like them. I still will not eat them cooked, but I have made some lovely salads, and I have tried them on sandwiches and tacos. The kids are still not impressed, so I will do more experimenting or maybe even some disguising.

Cooking greens is pretty simple, but it does take just a little bit of skill and patience. I found this out when I failed miserably the first two tries. The third time was a charm, and they turned out beautiful, and according to my husband, they tasted good too.

I have heard that the darker the green, the better the vegetable is for you, so I did a little research and found that leafy dark greens boast a very impressive nutritional profile!

So here we go. Greens are rich in Vitamins A & C, and are also good sources of calcium, iron, and folic acid. They also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration.

Breaking it down a little further, I find specific nutritional information on each green.
  • Collards(we will put in next year) are an excellent source of folate, vitamin C and beta-carotene. They are especially high in calcium.
  • Kale(currently in our garden) is an excellent source of vitamin C and beta-carotene, kale is also a good source of iron, vitamin B6, lutein and zeaxanthin. Kale is sweeter after the first frost, and less bitter when young.
  • Swiss chard(currently in our garden) is an excellent source of vitamin E, a nutrient that is usually only found in high-fat foods. It is also high in potassium, magnesium, vitamin C and beta-carotene. To preserve its crispness and sweetness, be sure to keep it chilled.
  • Beet Greens(currently in our garden) are rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C, iron and calcium, beet greens are often more nutritious than beets (with one exception: Beets are higher in folate). They are best for eating when young and tender.
Other greens are Bok Choy, Mustard Greens, and Turnip Greens, and Spinach hold similar nutritional qualities.

Here are some different ways to cook greens:

Quick Boil: Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Do not chop the leaves, but submerge them whole into the boiling water. Use a wooden spoon to move them from top to bottom. The leaves will begin to wilt slightly, but the bright green color should still be present. At this point, bring a leaf up with your spoon, tear off a piece, and chew it(I have skipped this part so far). If the flavor is bitter, let them cook more. The greens are just right when chewing a piece releases sweet juices. You will know you cooked them too long if the flavor is lost and the color is gone. The amount of time depends on the maturity of the green and the amount of leaves you're cooking. For something like tender mustard greens, a thirty- to sixty-second dip should suffice. Mature collard greens can take about five minutes. Once you test the green and get a sweet flavor, pour into a colander. Save the water. Many people enjoy drinking the broth because it is so nutritious. You can also use it to water your plants if you wish. Next, run cool water over the greens gently to halt the cooking process. Once they are cool enough to touch gather them into a ball and gently squeeze out the excess water. Chop on the cutting board and they are ready to dress and serve.

Simmer Chopped Greens:
To simmer greens, bring about one inch liquid of choice to simmer in a large skillet. Chop the washed greens into strips. Place the strips in the simmering liquid and keep them moving with a wooden spoon. You are looking for the same results as above, which is a bright green color and a sweet flavor. The difference here is you chopped the greens; therefore, cooking time will be shorter.

Saute: The water will aid in wilting and releasing the bitterness of the greens. Heat olive, or rice bran oil(what I use)in skillet. Add garlic if desired. The garlic will tell you if you have the heat right. The garlic will burn if it is the heat is too hot. Chop the greens you are using into bite-sized pieces. Keep the greens moving in the skillet. Test every minute or so for doneness.

Be creative when dressing your greens. I have used hot curry paste so far, but here are some other condiments you can use: toasted sesame oil, lemon, balsamic vinegar, chipotle sauce, or whatever you prefer. You can even put the greens in soups or rice.

Don't let the greens go to waste in the garden. Freeze them! Here's How:

Blanch for 2-3 minutes in boiling water, cool immediately and drain well. Pack and leave 1/2 inch of head space. 2-3 lbs = 1 pint frozen

So, now you probably know more than you wanted to know about greens. I hope you get the chance to grow and eat these interesting veggies like I have.

Enjoying The Journey,

Monday, August 31, 2009

3rd Annual Soap For Hope

It's that time of year again! September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. September was also the beginning of our own son's cancer journey, diagnosed 5 years ago today.

We are excited to offer Caramel Taffy Apple soap again this year. In the past we have supported Cure Search, The University of Michigan Pediatric Cancer Clinic(Child Life), and this year we will purchase gas cards for those families who have to make numerous expensive trips for their child's chemotherapy. Please take a look at the statistics below.

Thank you!

Childhood Cancer Facts

  • Each school day, 46 children are diagnosed with cancer.
  • One in 330 children will develop cancer by age 20.
  • Each year in the U.S. over 12,600 children are diagnosed with cancer.
  • Although the 5 year survival rate is steadily increasing, one quarter of children diagnosed with cancer will die 5 years from the time of diagnosis.
  • Cancer remains the number one disease killer of America's children - more than Cystic Fibrosis, Muscular Dystrophy, Asthma and AIDS combined.
  • 80% of children have metastatic disease at time of diagnosis as compared to only 20% of adults.
  • There are currently more than 270,000 childhood cancer survivors in the U.S.
  • Late effects of childhood cancer treatment are common in survivors, and approximately one-third are moderate to severe.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Shine A Light

Shine A Light, sponsored by NBC, and American Express is offering a grant and marketing support to inspiring small businesses. My mother wrote a very nice story about me and NaKee' Natural. Please take a peek, and please endorse. We need at least 50 endorsements to move to the next round of judging. I am hearing from those who want to support us are finding it a tricky process. For some reason, the sight is not showing itself to be user-friendly when people try to endorse a story.

If you would like to support and endorse our story, but don't want to mess with it, just email me your name,address, and email address and I will do it for you.

Here is our story:

"My daughter is my hero. Her business, NaKee' Natural, was born out of her quest for a more natural lifestyle; her interest in aromatherapy and herbs; and her desire to be able to contribute to her family's income while going through a very difficult time. Her oldest son had been diagnosed with childhood leukemia, and was facing a very long journey of chemotherapy treatment. She made a decision three years ago to turn her hobby into a business so she could supplement the family income and still take care of her ill son and her two younger boys in the process. Candance has worked extremely hard at creating her brand. She has created this entity herself and does everything by hand, including packaging and labeling. When I go with her to different shows to help her, I see the interest in people’s eyes and hear how excited they are about her products. I am so proud of her for persevering through the difficult times. She has been able to put much more attention into the business since her son has gone into remission. I am very excited about the future of NaKee’ Natural, even in these hard times with the economy and the unknown. She is a very dedicated woman who has enjoyed interacting with her customers not only on a professional level, but on a personal level as well, gaining many new friends in the process. She also helps others with her ‘Soap For Hope’ charity program. She has raised money for CureSearch(childhood cancer research), The University of Michigan pediatric cancer clinic, and is now purchasing gas and grocery cards for families in the throes of cancer treatment. NaKee’ Natural has great potential, and this grant is just what it needs to help it flourish. Thank you for your consideration."

Thank you!

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Happiness of Pursuit

The pleasure of getting what you want is often fleeting.

I read an excerpt from the book of Ecclesiastes the other day. I was so intrigued, I decided to find my Bible, dust it off and read the whole book(of Ecclesiastes, that is). I remember certain verses from this book as a kid, and the ever popular Chapter 3 'A Time For Everything'. But even more than that, I found that the author of this book was one depressed individual. He had everything anyone could ever want in that time: silver and gold, treasures, singers, concubines, herds and flocks, and great possessions. Yet, he could not find meaning or joy in what he had. He even tried to pursue works by building gardens, houses and parks, and found that it was all pointless. He then tried learning, hard work, and even wine, but he could not shake the feeling that his life had no more worth or meaning than that of an animal. Everything was meaningless to him. I kept reading the word 'meaningless' over and over throughout this book, while thinking to myself, 'Suck it up, Buttercup, geez!'. I think I may have found the oldest report of a mid-life crisis here.

He also talked about the great wisdom he had, and as I thought about this, I decided he was quite full of himself as well because if he had been wise, he would have understood that happiness is not an end result. You can't find happiness by being successful or getting what you want. You can, however, find success in happiness, by Enjoying The Journey.

We are all born with a typical level of happiness. Those who see the cup as half-full are optimists, and those who see the cup as half-empty are pessimists. This is referred to as someone's affective style according to Jonathan Haidt, which reflects one's everyday balance of approach and withdrawal. Optimists experience more positive emotions, and pessimists have more fear, anxiety, and are prone to becoming depressed. It is interesting to observe this in people. There are those who go through difficult and even tragic situations with grace and a certain level of acceptance; and then there are those who crumble under the slightest of circumstances.

Those of us who did not win the 'cortical lottery' as Jonathan Haidt puts it in his book, The Happiness Hypothesis , do have hope though. Haidt says meditating, doing cognitive therapy, and even taking Prozac can help. If I had written this, I would have added regular and consistent aerobic exercise to this list. He does have a list HERE of things one can do to become happier if you would like to check it out.

My drug of choice is running. And I may have even practiced 'cognitive therapy' without realizing what I was doing. Even though I haven't completely labeled myself as an optimist or a pessimist, I do believe I was born with a certain amount of resilience and a survival instinct somehow, so maybe I do indeed lean more toward optimism.

I understand depression is a very real thing. I have seen it in close family members and friends. But some people get so self-absorbed and develop such a 'victim mentality' that they feel everything is being done 'to' them. They feel as if they have no control over what happens to them or how they feel.

I have felt this at times through my son's illness, and also at particular times when there have been people in my life who were unsupportive, and basically mean. I felt a certain justification in my 'how dare you' mentality, but also knew that I would not grow emotionally or spiritually holding on to that thinking. I knew I was better than that.

A friend turned me on to a song called, 'Sounds Like Life To Me'. It is worth listening to...several times. There are those times when people go through very difficult times such as family illness/death...and I am not talking about these major life tragedies. I am talking about the things we get our panties in a bunch over that are just normal, everyday happenings. You know, the things that really stink, and put us in a bad mood and cause us to develop a poor attitude. We all deal with these things every single day. It's called 'life'. We do indeed have a choice with how we respond to these events though.

The king of Jerusalem in Ecclesiastes failed to 'stop and smell the roses'. He was so caught up in trying to find meaning and what would ultimately make him happy, that he lost sight of the fact that it is in the journey that brings about euphoria and joy, not the accomplishment in and of itself. He must have just fallen apart when things didn't go his way. There is a two-fold lesson here: Enjoy the journey, and suck it up, buttercup. Sounds like life to me.

Enjoying The Journey and Sucking it up when need be,

Monday, August 17, 2009

Were You Born to Run?

From another blog, I came across this fantastic-sounding book today, and thought I would share! It is called Born To Run by Christopher McDougall. I am so excited to read it. I am in the midst of training for a half marathon in September, and my husband is training for a full marathon in October, so this sounds like a great book to read right now to stay motivated.

It is interesting that I was just thinking about this topic the other day. I was wondering if we, as humans, are really 'built' to run the miles we do when we are training for long distances like this. Maybe I was just thinking about the long run I had ahead of me on Sunday, and the longer ones ahead until the half marathon, and looking for an excuse not to do it. Truth be told, I can't 'not do it'. There are too many benefits for me to quit. I have thought about quitting many times. It is definitely a commitment...a lifestyle takes time, motivation, and dedication. But the proof is in the rewards that are physical, mental, emotional, as well as spiritual if one chooses. Some are forever telling me I am crazy and asking me why I do it.

Why not? It costs very little money all in all to strap on a pair of shoes and party with the pavement. So, if you are looking for some motivation to run, this may be the book for you. From what I have read in the reviews, it gives a whole different perspective to running.

I am excited to learn the contrasts between modern endurance runners, who experience on average a running injury every year, and the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico. These indigenous people are known for their ability to run long distances--they run much more than us, at 50 to 200 miles at a time AND rarely experience any running injuries. It is not unusual for them to run into old age, even into their nineties.

If you are interested, let's read it together! Let me know if you are planning to read this book, and we can discuss it in a later post.

Enjoying The Journey,

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Become A Fan!

Happy Summer!

Yes, it is still summer...I just won't give it up until I have to! With only a few days here in Michigan all summer of scorching hot days, it has been nearly perfect.

I have been getting ready for the holidays. I have a few more batches to make, and I will be done with all of the Christmas and Holiday soaps. They smell so yummy!

I have created a fan page on Facebook. I have been posting pictures, articles, sales and information. Please come join! I will be doing most of my correspondence through facebook. It is an easy way to get information out to those who want it. I will still come here occasionally to blog, but most of the information will be on the Facebook Fan Page for now. You can post comments, questions, and even start discussions.

Become a fan and I will give you free shipping on your next order until the end of August, 2009. In the customer comment box at checkout, please put the code: FAN there and you will get the free shipping. Any size order! You must type FAN there, or I will not know to give you free shipping for your order.

Enjoying The Season,

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Living in 3D

Some epiphanies happen as an 'a-ha' moment in time, while others evolve over longer periods. Most of mine happen to come to me while I am running. I believe this is because I slip into a different level of consciousness while I run. I allow my mind to open up and receive what God has for me. Some do this with prayer, meditation, a walk in the woods, or even just sitting on the porch swing looking at the natural world.

I remember one particular run last year when I was longing to become faster. For the four years I have ran consistently now, it has not been important to be fast. I had been completely satisfied with myself for 'just getting 'er done'. I could do it, and had proved I could do it. I realized that just maybe I was slipping into a place of contentment...or was it complacency? My mind went back and forth between, 'Hey, I am out here doing it and that is good enough, as a matter of fact-a lot of people don't even do this!' and 'Candy, up your game girl, don't you want to be better?' It was then that I realized, yes it was ok, and even good to work out at the level I was. But, do I want to be just ok, or do I want to be a little more than ok? This wasn't to say that I needed to train like an elite runner, but to just be a little better...whatever that meant for me.

Quite an amazing thing happened to me as a result of this thinking. I realized that I needed to up my game in all areas of my life as well. Do I want just a mediocre business? Do I want to be satisfied with my limitations in my personal life and relationships? No! For a very long time I have known being balanced and holistic is the way I've wanted to live my life. It seems to have always been one-dimensional though. I struggle with being able to improve on more than one thing at any given time of my life.

My life splits off into three areas: Business, Personal/Family, Physical. It's a Trinity! Body(running), Mind(business), and Spirit(personal/family). Being at the top of my game in all areas is challenging, but when I am able to do this - I have to tell you it is the most incredible experience...It isn't easy, but it can be done. Opening up my mind to acceptance and opening up my heart to accept it with grace is key. Knowing I can change my thoughts, behavior, and yes even my feelings in any given situation. This applies to all three areas of my life. It's a gradual process and never-ending. I may take two steps back after taking three steps forward...but I am still moving forward! I may even fall down...but I can always get back up if I choose to. Evolving towards excellence, not perfection. And who wants perfection anyway? If I were perfect, I would have no goals. The beauty and reward of reaching my goals is in the 'reaching'.

So, I think the 'a-ha' moments are really just the beginning. As exciting and eurphoric as those moments can be, unless we put them into action, they will disperse into the air as useless miniscule particles. Opportunities come and go all the time. We can all think of times in our life when we have let good ones go. What we do with them is what really matters. But sometimes we are just not ready. We can ready ourselves though, accept and put into action ones that are given us, or reject them, satisfied with being 'just ok'. It's our choice. But don't worry, they won't be wasted. Those opportunities will recycle and find people who are willing to put in the hard work it takes to bring them to fruition.

When I do lose out on an opportunity to be a better mom, wife, runner, or even take my business to the next level, I try not lose heart or beat myself up (too much), but rather be open to the next new one to come along and grab it by the horns and enjoy the ride.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Happy Hour in Your Shower

I just couldn't resist telling you about our newest soap creation....da da ta da.....Margarita Lime! I have been wanting to make this soap since last year, and had originally intended for this to debut last summer. I tested it, thought a lot about it, but it never came to fruition. In my head, I knew exactly what it would look like, and was hoping I could recreate my vision of the soap version of a lime margarita.
I think we have lift-off of a very hot item here. As long as the color doesn't cure into a murkish green, it will be absolutely perfect. The scent is sophisticated and ever so divine. This isn't your daughter's bubblegum fruity lime scent here. It is fresh and tangy, but not too sour. Tequila, lime...and don't forget the salted rim. We are talking south of the border Happy Hour in your Shower Baby!
This will be perfect for bridal showers and girlfriend nights! Hmmmm....I may even make a limited scrub and light oil body spray to go with it...wah ha ha haaaa. The mad scientist in me is getting crazy just thinking about it.
We have a while before summer is upon us again, but just making this soap yesterday put me in a summertime mood. If it made me feel this good just making the soap, imagine what it will be like bathing with it. Oooo La La.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Christmas....Now Valentine's Day????

Hello Everyone,

I am so sorry I have not updated this blog in so long. Time slips away so easily these days. The holidays were spectacular! We had our best season so far! Thank you to all of our customers. Thank you for believing in our product and service.

We have been so busy since the last blog post. We have a new local retailer, Allegiance Health. We were also able to give $100.00 to the University of Michigan Childlife program; and we have been super busy re-stocking all of our soaps and products. It is hard to believe we had nearly 1,000 bars of soap at the beginning of the holiday season and at the end of the year we had under 200!!

We are now ready for Valentine's Day. We have the adorable Pink Crush soap, plus our Pink Aloe collection that is both pretty and pink. If you are looking for a practical luxury gift for your guy, we have plenty to offer with Wooded Olive, Soothing Sport, Brigadoon, Irish Moss, and more.

We can package everything up for you in our free gift packaging, or you can choose our premium gift packaging as well.