Sharing JOY

In the month of January, as things have calmed down a bit, I’ve been able to put JOY into action. If you missed my post on the JOY Project, please read below.

I’ve been spreading the word through friends, students, neighbors.

The response has been overwhelming. People say, “Good idea!” “Awesome!” “I want to do it, too!”

And then, in the next millisecond, I see their faces go blank. I watch as their mind complicates things. The idea of a simple bottle of wine turns into a wine basket including cheese tray, artsy wine stopper and vintage picnic blanket all packaged in a rustic, handmade picnic basket. The pressure of  the perfect gift gets them freaked out and they forget the whole thing before they have a chance to embrace the simplicity.

To all of you out there wrapped up in the notion of “Go big or go home”, I say STOP!!! Don’t complicate things. This is easy! The JOY Project is intended to be SIMPLE!

Here are a few things that I’ve done recently:

A tasty pancake mix packaged in a simple paper bag. Add  sticker and Voila! JOY!

 

JOY Jan8Yummy cucumber, ginger, lemon tea water poured into a small glass bottle

 

Here is what other people have been doing:

Joy Jan1

My sister in law gave this sweet notepad to a coworker in need of a lift. The woman was so touched by the gesture, she cried!

JoyJan2

An out of the blue care package to a daughter far away

The bottom line is- don’t overthink it. Keep it simple. The gesture is truly greater than the gift.

If you would like your own set of stickers, please message me!

PEACE & JOY,

Jo

 

The JOY Project

JOY feet

In my last entry, I introduced The Joy Project. Since that post, I’ve had several people ask just what inspired the sticker campaign; what pushed me from daydream into doing…

“The world is a crazy place” we hear over and over again. During my childhood, I watched the Vietnam War unfold and the Kennedy assassinations bring our nation to a halt. Some of the conflicts of that era were perhaps growing pains of a still young nation. We were starting to lose our innocence; and then with the John and Bobby- innocence LOST.

Together with family, friends and neighbors we healed our wounds and rebounded into the 70s, thru the 80s and beyond. Sure there was heartache and tragedy- the Ayatollah, the Challenger explosion and Iran Contra to name a few, but we had each other. Even at the turn of the millennium when the world stopped cold as the Twin Towers fell, we as a people rallied; perfect strangers coming to the aid of another, neighbors helping neighbors.

But even after all of that, never has the world seemed so sad, so hopeless; void of compassion and camaraderie as it does lately. Years of war and political strife accompanied by a government constantly on the brink of shut down compete for air time with school shootings that have become almost common place.

Now you may think I sound pessimistic or that, perhaps, I need another cup of coffee. But all of this is very real and it especially struck me this past September as news of the Kenya Mall Shootings unfolded. There I was watching yet another senseless act of mass violence; images of bodies and blood and women cowering behind department store counters desperate to protect their children. Why does this keep happening I want to know? And why has this all become so, well- usual?

Perhaps it’s because in this new millennium of ours we don’t lean on one another, we don’t gather with neighbors to exchange information or words of encouragement. Instead, we get our updates on the latest information from our Facebook feed. We obsess over the latest tweet. We are constantly checking our phones, yet not making eye contact with the person next to us. These atrocities are now just images. Images that will, in the next instant, be replace by new images on our feed. We have lost touch. We have lost our connection.

But I know and believe that each one of us can make a huge difference simply by making a connection; by taking the time to give simple joy to another.

I came up with The Joy Project as a means to do just that; as a mission to spread cheer, happiness and good vibes to all. Initially there was just a sketch, an image that emerged after a few days of doodling. Bright happy colors and the word “joy” encircled reflects happy, carefree memories of the smiley face craze of the 70s. Once the image had taken shape in my mind, I couldn’t help but to feel that there was more to it. Maybe I could actually do something? Maybe I could help to make others make the connection.

The concept of the sticker campaign is easy as pie (or should I say “fruit tart?). Place one bright and happy “Joy” sticker on a simple thing to share: a cup of coffee, a bag of nuts and dried fruit or a bar of dark chocolate- just make it from your hands and heart.

My hope is that the Joy Project will remind its participants- both the givers and the receivers- that we can all make this world a different, better, more connected place with modest gestures of love and kindness given from the heart to another’s hands.

Stay tuned to read about the launching of the Joy Project and find out how you can become involved.

PEACE & JOY,

Jo

 

The Joy Project

SHARE JOy stickerThe world is hectic and we can become overwhelmed with the news, technology and all the to do’s we think are important. But I know and believe each one of us can make a huge difference by spreading simple joy – because I strongly believe in this I created The Joy Project – it is a sticker I created after doddling a few days – incorporating joyful memories of the smile face craze of the 1970′s the smile face on the joy sticker spells out joy. It is a bright happy colorful sticker that is ready to be placed on simple things to share – a cup of coffee, a bag of nuts and dried fruit, a bar of dark chocolate – a simple gesture of comfort, love from your heart and hands. My hopes is the joy project will remind us we can all make this world a different place with small simple gestures of love.

The last ones.

It’s been a year-long journey for Jo and me as we put together these four sets of recipe cards. She did all the heavy lifting in writing, testing and executing the recipes while I handled all the creative (designing, photographing and editing). She and her sister cooked for hours before I arrived to take the photos for each seasonal set. Once the styling and photographing of the food was done, we’d sit around and chat and munch on the dozen recipes we’d just photographed. Let me tell you, I was always full by the time I headed back home! One of my favorite things about these cards is that every single bit of food you see in those photos is real. No fillers, no fakes, no tricks–just beautiful and, might I add, delicious food. Jo and I both hope you’ll enjoy this final set of recipes. Plenty of love and hard work went into completing them.

A riff on power bars.

Yesterday, Jo sent out a story and recipe about an afternoon spent teaching Alex, an 8 year old who’s gluten-free. Together they developed a “power bar” fit for an afternoon snack or a dessert for the lunchbox. So, being antsy and bored this afternoon, I had to try it. Below is the original recipe:

Alex’s Power Bars
3 cups cereal (1 1/2 cups gluten free rice crispies and 1 1/2 cup Perkys Crunchy Rice Cereal by Enjoy Life)
1 generous cup roasted peanuts (Alex loves peanuts)
2 teaspoons Ceylon or True Cinnamon (yes Alex also LOVE cinnamon) you can use whatever cinnamon you have—this particular cinnamon is a bit “sweeter” has a delicious flavor and aroma and can stand on its own very well.
1/2 cup creamy organic natural peanut butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch salt (optional if peanuts are salted)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 11 x 7 pan. Mix cereal, nuts and cinnamon together in a large bowl. In a saucepan, heat peanut butter and syrup together bring to a boil to thicken just a bit; remove from heat and stir in vanilla and salt.
Pour over cereal and mix well. Pat into prepared pan and bake 10 minutes.
Alex wanted to add a chocolate layer much like some protein bars they purchase—so we melted 1 1/2 cups chocolate with 2 teaspoons coconut oil over low heat. Pour over the cereal mixture and cool. Refrigerate to harden.

For added protein stir in protein powder or Omegas add flaxmeal or hemp seeds.

I was missing a few ingredients and I’m not concerned about the gluten-free aspect, so I did my own little variation.
This is what I came up with:

3 cups cereal (1 cup rice crispies and 2 cups Kashi [high fiber and high protein!])
1 generous cup roasted almonds chopped
1 teaspoon Saigon Cinnamon (it’s what I had on hand!)
1/2 cup almond butter
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup agave nectar
I admit I totally forgot the vanilla from the original version.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 9 x 13 inch pan. Mix cereal, nuts and cinnamon together in a large bowl. In a saucepan, heat almond butter and honey/agave nectar together bring to a boil to thicken just a bit. Pour over cereal and mix well. Pat into prepared pan and bake 10 minutes.
I also added a chocolate layer and melted 1 cup chocolate with 1 teaspoons coconut oil over low heat. Pour over the cereal mixture and cool. Refrigerate to harden.

Even my husband liked them! Quick, easy and a nice little treat without all the guilt.

Review: Liberty Bottleworks.

Trying to up your hydration as part of your 2012 resolution? Are you in the market for a new reusable water bottle? Check out the ones from Liberty Bottleworks. I’ve had several different brands over the years based on what the new trend or new health warning was (Nalgene, Sigg, Klean Kanteen, etc.) and I have to say that THIS one meets all my criteria for a reusable bottle:
1) Made in America. The ONLY American made reusable on the market, in fact. This is a biggie for me.
2) BPA free. Who wants to be poisoned while drinking water? Uh, not me.
3) Recycled AND recyclable. Another fact that sets them apart from anyone else on the market.
4) Sturdy and well designed. Nothing worse than denting your lovely new bottle after only a week’s worth of use! They also have a cool lid that only requires a quarter turn which means no more scrubbing to get gunk outta the threads of the lid and bottle and it seals nice and tight. The lid has a nifty design so you can hook it onto your backpack too! The shape of the bottle means less spilling down the front of your shirt. You have issues with that too, right? They come in 24 or 32 ounce sizes.
5) Affordable. I’ve spent more than I care to admit on reusable bottles and this one was the most reasonably priced.

Check ‘em out. Super cute and practical. Mine goes with me everywhere.

Happy New Year!

Inspired by the large box of fruit my daughter, a first year teacher, bought from the FFA club at her school I decided to make this for our New Years dinner. Refreshing, with just a few ingredients, it makes a great brunch salad and goes great with champagne or breakfast mimosa’s.
I hope you are enjoying the beautiful times spent with family and friends this holiday season and I thank you so much for all of the support throughout this past year.

Fresh Fennel & Orange Salad
2 oranges supremed*
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 bulbs fresh fennel, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Sea salt and black fresh pepper
½ teaspoon chopped sage for garnish

Toss together and serve.

*Note:
How to supreme an orange:
Supreming an orange, or sectioning orange as it is otherwise called, is when you cut an orange (or other citrus fruit) down to its most tender sections. It is easy to do and all you need to get started is a very sharp paring knife.
Start by cutting off about 1/2 inch from the top and bottom of your orange. The fruit should be revealed so you can see exactly how deep you need to cut to remove the pith and peel. Working carefully, cut away all of the peel and tough pith from the fruit. Continue until all the pith and peel have been removed.
Once the peel has been completely removed from the fruit, note the thin, white membranes that divide up the orange into slices. Insert your knife as close to that membrane as possible and make a slice parallel to it, right to the center of the orange. Find the membrane on the other side of that orange section and make another slice down to the center of the orange. You should be left with a tender, juicy orange segment. Use a sharp knives for best results.

Kick the habit.

Sucanat

As the holidays quickly approach, there is a good chance you’re beginning to nom on all the delicious office sweets brought in by your co-workers to celebrate the season. It’s hard to resist all those delicious baked treats, right? Unfortunately, many of them are probably filled with white sugar and over-processed ingredients. That doesn’t mean you have to totally abstain from all the holiday celebrating going on around you, just be more conscious of what you’re putting into your body. Maybe your contribution to your office parties can contain whole grain flours and sugar alternatives! Here are some easy sweetening substitutions to make your favorite recipes a little more healthful. Complex sugars, like the ones listed below release slowly in our bodies, keeping that typical sugar rush and subsequent crash at bay—which may help you avoid packing on the holiday pounds! Try one and let me know how they turned out!

1 cup of white sugar =
3/4 cup agave nectar
1 1/4 cup barley malt
1 1/4 cup rice syrup
1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup molasses
1 cup date sugar
1 cup sucanat
1 cup fruit juice concentrate
1 cup honey
1 cup frozen unsweetened juice
1 cup palm sugar

*When using any liquid sweetener as a replacement for white sugar, reduce the liquid content by 1/4 cup. If no liquid is called for in the recipe, add 3-5 tablespoons flour for each 3/4 cup of liquid sweetener.

Get some.

Winter is here, and along with it, comes winter recipe cards! Just in time for gifting at the holidays, or keeping for yourself, these cards contain plenty of soul-satisfying, belly warming, nutritious recipes to fill you up. The cards are sold in packs of 12 with an additonal bonus card, complete with a veggie wash recipe on one side and a produce helper on the other! Each set is $8 and can be purchased by emailing me at jo@jocessna.com.