farmers market · Handmade · holiday

Countdown to Christmas

~Can you believe that Christmas is only a couple of days away?! Good thing I finished all my Christmas shopping lol. But if you didn’t, I have a place where you’ll find the perfect gift: Christkindlmarket in downtown Naperville (or Chicago, but Naperville is closer for me). I’ve been wanting to go to Christkindlmarket for years (the one in Chicago), and when I found out that Naperville is its suburban home, my desire to go intensified.

Friends of mine that had gone before advised that I go in the middle of the week because the weekends are chaotic. As advised I went this past Thursday around 12:30, and even then it was crowded. I found a parking garage a few blocks from the Naper Settlement (where they held the market) and my best shot of getting a semi-decent parking spot was on the 5th floor roof.

When I got to the market, I was overwhelmed by the astounding number of ornaments that were sold in nearly every stand. They were beautiful and delicately painted, ones that would look great on any tree. The first stand I went to was, of course, an ornament stand. Hailing from Germany and Poland, these beauties came in all shapes and sizes, boasting a different winter or holiday theme painted onto them. I didn’t go for the traditional hanging ones, but rather a flock of adorable clip on birds. I have birds (parakeets) of my own so naturally I would gravitate toward those. I can’t remember the individual price of the birds but the box containing 4 were $30. Now my little flock is nestled on the branches of our Christmas tree at home 🙂

After purchasing the bird ornaments I made a lap around the market scoping out the different stalls and deciding what I would want to eat. Nearly every market-goer was holding a red decorative mug filled with some of the richest hot chocolate I’ve ever had. To go with my hot cocoa I picked up some caramel coated cashews to munch on as I continued through the market.

I stumbled upon a stand that was a purveyor of wares made from alpaca wool. I was looking for something to match the alpaca wool hat I purchased at the Frankfort market over the summer, and I found a pair of gloves, the ones with the fingertips cut off that could also be worn as mittens, with a similar brown and white striped pattern for $25, which is very reasonable for something wool woven. The man running the stand hails from Alberta, Canada works with families in Peru and Ecuador that raise the alpacas for the wool. Support local businesses/family run operations!

After I picked up a few smaller ornaments and a gift for a friend of mine, I finished the day eating pierogi and potato pancakes. In my Happy Hanukkah! post I briefly spoke of eating them traditionally with sour cream and apple sauce, but at the Austrian Lodge the serve their pancakes 3 ways: plain, with sour cream and apple sauce, or with sour cream and smoked salmon. I opted for plain, which were deliciously crispy, but I’m biased and prefer my mom’s recipe. The pierogi at Tata’s Pierogi were plump and tender, filled with your traditional meat or potato & cheese, and a little more on the exotic side with spinach and feta. Spinach and feta isn’t exactly exotic, but I don’t see a lot of those in Polish cooking.

Overall, I absolutely fell in love with Christkindlmarket. I would for sure go again, either to Naperville or I may be brave enough and fight traffic to visit the one in Chicago.

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas! ❤

Healthy Living · organic

Burt’s Bees Beauty Challenge: Start!

~Most people know Burt’s Bees through their lip balm, but did you know that Burt’s Bees is so much more than that? They make shampoos, face creams, body lotions, and cleansing cloths galore, catering to all skin tones. I have oily skin and because of that I am more acne prone than most (whoopee…)

I’ve tried dozens of acne cleansers, and not all are created equal. In fact, I even had a reaction to one! I’m more like every one else and familiar with Burt’s lip balm (awesome!), but when I went to the store to pick up, what else, face wash, I stumbled upon the small section of Burt’s Bees products. I selected their Gentle Foaming Cleanser with Royal Jelly, boasting their 99% natural ingredients for normal to combination skin. Wait a second…
If they’re claiming to be 99% natural, what could be in the other 1% of ingredients?

However, I’m determined to see this through to the end. For one week I’ll be using the cleanser morning and night and will post pictures of my progress, which means you get to see more of my face lol

In combination with the royal jelly cleanser, I’m using their Natural Acne Solutions spot treatment to treat some stubborn spots on my face that don’t seem to want to go away.

 

What is everyone’s experience with Burt’s Bees? Comment below!

 

farmers market · fruits · healthy eating · organic

Enter the Dragon (fruit)

~On my last trip to the grocery store (Mariano’s, my favorite!) I went home with items I had on my list and a few that weren’t. One of those was a dragon fruit. As strange as it was sitting in my cart next to the dried apricots and packages of Noosa yoghurt, there were good reasons behind it:

  1. How often do you find dragon fruit in a mainstream grocery store?! I thought you could only find those in an Asian specialty market or overseas.
  2. Dragon fruit has been one of those things that I’ve wanted to try but was too chicken to in the past. My sister’s tried it before and didn’t think much of it, so I was kind of hoping to convince her otherwise.
  3. Because what the hell?

There were actually 2 sections of dragon fruit in the produce department, those that were organic and those that weren’t. Of course I went with the organic one, even if it was a titch on the pricey side (over $3/lb). Plus the conventionally grown ones looked withered away.

DSCF3314

Before I ended up buying the dragon fruit, I hadn’t know much about them beside that they came from Asia and that they looked really pretty on the inside. After some research I learned that dragon fruit can also come from South America, Mexico and Israel. The specimen I purchased happened to be from Vietnam. And apparently it’s a type of cactus! Also know as ‘pitaya’, it comes in 3 colors: pink skin with white flesh (as pictured), pink sink with red flesh, and yellow skin with white flesh.

After I had cut into the fruit, but right before I pulled apart the two pieces, I did an imaginary drum roll in my head, hoping that it would look as I had predicted. It sure was!

The kiwi like black seeds were speckeled
throughout the fruit as if an artist had taken a calligraphy brush and meticulously placed each individual seed inside the flesh.

DSCF3328
Pitaya

Now the next question: how do I eat it?
I took a spoon, inserted it just behind the flesh up against the skin and scooped it out. Cutting each half into pieces, it was tasting time.

 

 

 

 

DSCF3335

I took a bite, and another….and another…. and nothing. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. It literally had no taste whatsoever. It was like one of those popular girls in high school: pretty but with no substance.

 

*Check out these pitaya pics and more in the Photo Garden!*

Environment · healthy eating · Healthy Living · organic · vegan · veggies

Return to VeggieFest: 2017 edition

~Last year I discovered VeggieFest, a unique lifestyle festival honoring those who have the courage to refrain from meat. This time around I wanted to take my boyfriend with me to share in the experience. Truth be told, it didn’t go as well as I had imagined.

The ran fell on our proverbial  parade (it was a really nice day, not a cloud in the sky) in the form of parking. It was absolutely horrendous. When we had approached the venue, cars snaked around the lots back and forth desperate to find a spot. Unfortunately we got stuck in one of the coils and by the time we made it to the parking garage and found a spot, almost an hour had passed. Nevertheless, I was still trying to make this a positive experience for the both of us.

Once we got to the grounds where the festival was held, it was nothing but tents and a massive crowed of people sprawled before us. I immediately bee-lined for the international food court, which is what I was most looking forward to. You pay for food at the food court in the form of food tickets, where the exchange was $1= 1 ticket. I bought $20 worth of tickets, hoping to try a few different things, especially stuff I didn’t try or get the chance to try last year.

The first thing I tried as soy beef & broccoli with noodles and veggies for 6 tickets from a Chinese stand. It must have been popular because there was a long line. And for good reason because it was delicious! Even though I knew it wasn’t beef, it tasted just like beef! My boyfriend thought it was pretty tasty too, mentioning that he liked the beef alternative BETTER! But I still think he’ll stay a carnivore ;P

Next was a selection of his choosing: veggie burgers. I’ve had a few veggie burgers in the past (mostly at the cafeteria in college) and they weren’t that great, so I was a little on the fence about it. But that too turned out to be delicious!

After we ate our way around the food court we wandered around the rest of the festival peering at the different vendor’s tents while live music played in the background. One thing I noticed was really popular among festival goers was boxed water. Essentially it was purified water in a carton rather than a plastic bottle to be more environmentally conscious. I liked the idea of it, and it was refreshing. I wondered where i could find it?

Unlike last year, I only purchased a bottle of peppermint oil from the doTERRA vendor. I was also disappointed to find that the people selling the mango nectar and Doug & Katia from Waterfall Glen weren’t at the festival.

While this year may not have been as fun as last year, VeggieFest is still something I would definitely check out and recommend to anyone who is either vegetarian, vegan or wants to do something fun and free (free admission and parking!)

 

farmers market

Hello out there…

~To my dear readers, whether you’re joining me for the first time or a returning reader:

I first want to say I’m sorry if you felt like I ditched you or fell off the face of the planet, or, God forbid, gave up on farmer’s markets. I took a break from blogging and the markets to refresh my thoughts and focus on some personal and financial issues. I’ve always thought of the blog (and you guys of course), but had to take a step back because I was starting to feel overwhelmed.

But as I woke up this morning, I realized how much I missed going to the markets and not knowing what I’d find or discover something new. So today for the first time in two months, I went to the Frankfort market and got my inspiration back. I also realized how much I missed writing! I’ve told myself that if I wasn’t  a vet tech I would want to be a writer.

Slowly but surely I’ll return with more posts and restoring the blog to its former glory, striving to make it better 🙂

Love you all! ❤

-The Garden Goddess

eggs · farmers market · healthy eating · organic

What the duck (eggs)

~For the past year or so I’ve been on the hunt for duck eggs. Searching market after market with no luck, my hope was starting to dwindle. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago when I finally hit the jackpot, but it wasn’t at a farmer’s market. They came from my boss!

When he’s not doing incredible veterinary work, the owner of my clinic raises ducks in his backyard. He told me he had about 15 ducks and they were chewing up his lawn while he was in the middle of repairing an obese Lab’s ruptured cruciate ligament (the animal equivalent of a human’s ACL). After taking an updated set of vitals, he asked me if I wanted some eggs. I jumped at the chance! With a smile he said he would bring me some next time they were laying.

About a week later, I was cleaning the treatment area and he asks if I was going to be there for a while. I said yes, and he disappeared. After about 15 minutes, he arrived back at the clinic with a half dozen duck eggs with my name on it. My face lit up and thanked him for the awesome (and soon to be delicious) gift.

The next morning before work, I opened the carton and marveled at the size comparison of the eggs to that of chicken eggs. I decided to make over easy duck eggs served on toast. Instead of butter, I coated the pan with ghee until it melted. Next, I cracked 2 eggs into the pan and cook them over medium low heat. Once the egg whites were cooked through, I tried to delicately flip them in the pan, but it was a rather clunky task. Nevertheless, they didn’t break. Once flipped, I turned the heat off and let the other side cook from the residual heat.

While I was cooking the eggs, I was toasting some bread in the toaster. They reached a perfect golden brown where I lightly buttered them and placed the crown jewels on top. Finally, the eggs were decorated with a garland of fresh micro greens and salt & pepper.

 

img_0876

I broke into the center and out poured a lovely waterfall of yolk. I was worried that I might have over cooked them since I had trouble flipping them (needed a bigger pan). I’m so happy they came out so well, and the taste was amazing!

*Check out my pictures in the Photo Garden and I’ll post the recipe in the Recipes menu very soon!*