Planting seeds of health and happiness

Guest Blogs

Growing Yard Art – Featured on JoyFoodly!

June 17th, 2015 / admin / 0 comments

I was thrilled to write a blog for JoyFoodly! Read all about putting the soul into your garden.

Please do share and leave me your comments!


Through the Edible Education Project, Dr. Kip Curtis addresses poverty, healthy eating and teaching children to grow food.

May 21st, 2014 / cat / 0 comments

For the past five years, I have been working with kids in schoolyard gardens that I have installed in schools in south St. Petersburg, Florida.  I started doing this because I saw that a lack of economic resources impacted kids in ways I just couldn’t stand to watch.

Reports in 2009 cited a 70% dropout rate for African American boys in my community – seven of ten, not getting through high school.  More recent reports have revealed that obesity, diabetes and infant death are also rampant.  These diet-related health issues are all preventable.  Eating right and eating healthy are harder for kids who don’t have resources.  Less healthy eating choices are less expensive, more convenient, and often taste good.

I saw poverty doing great harm and hurting kids in south St. Petersburg.  And I believe that kids don’t deserve to be hurt, whatever the income or education level of their parents.  So I decided to do something about it.





I started building gardens in the schoolyards of the schools attended by the kids experiencing the worst impacts.  I recruited volunteers from nearby colleges to work in those gardens and teach the kids about healthy food (and to teach them science and math and language arts at the same time).

The experiment has been wildly successful.  The small idea has become a big project (  Kids have not only gained experience growing food that they could be proud of, they have gotten better at math and science because they learned it doing something they care about, growing a garden.





Most importantly, they eat what they grow.  In some of the schools where we have worked, we have offered cooking classes allowing the kids to harvest fresh food and make yummy dishes.  In others, like this video shows, we encourage the kids to sample the food they have grown, which they always do willingly.

IMG_1101 (1)




I am now taking these ideas wherever they are needed.  This month I formed a new organization, The Edible Education Project, Inc. (, because I believe every child deserves access to fresh healthy food and deserves to learn the necessary skills to integrate that food into their lives.  I am working to contribute to a healthy, literate, and well-educated population in every neighborhood and every background.

Kip Curtis, Ph.D.


Dr. Kip Curtis grew up on a sustainable farm in the 1970s.  His professional development brought him through the environmental movement, into a doctorate in environmental history, end eventually back into food systems.  For the past five years he has been the primary force behind a farm to school education effort in St. Petersburg, Florida (  He is now offering his vision to farm to school and farm to plate food system projects around the country.  ( Like me on Facebook:


Do You Agree with Your Mate’s Eating Habits?

February 22nd, 2014 / cat / 0 comments

Is it “Healthy Eating Time” at your house? One partner wants to eat nothing but organic, because they know it is healthier. The other partner wants to eat tasty food and doesn’t care about eating healthy. This difference is very common in relationships.

Let’s face it, men and women have different priorities when it comes to eating. She may want to spend the extra money for organic food and he wants to save money by eating at Taco Bell regularly. Neither sees the value in what the other is doing, but that is just part of being men and women.

During times of stress, our male/female differences show up frequently with our different priorities. With all the extra stress involved in trying to eat healthier, lose weight, or whatever changes you’re making, it is more important than ever that you talk to each other about your priorities. There is no need to yell or be sarcastic. Just talk to each other, accept that you are different and show respect to each other.

With good communication, eating well can be a peaceful undertaking in your home.

Advice to Men: She will be putting in more effort than you will on meal planning and preparing. Even though you may not feel this is important, please give her as much support as you can. When she gets frustrated, assure her that her hard work is worth it and that meals will be wonderful.

Advice to Women: Do not judge his priorities just because they are different from yours. He may not be as health-focused as you are, but that does not make him wrong. If you need his support with healthy eating, ask him if he is willing to help you, and then let him know how much you would appreciate his help. He does not need to understand “why” it is important to you; he just needs to know that it is important to you and that you will appreciate him for his help.

Karen Card is a relationship expert and author of 3 books: “How to Get More Love,” “How to Get EVEN More Love,” and her latest, “MAN FACTS-10 Facts Women Must Know about Men.”

Karen has worked with hundreds of individuals, teaching her proven techniques to obtain or strengthen a relationship. She has earned a 93% success rate for her clients who want more love in their lives.

Contact:  -  (727) 512-2899  -


Slimming Strategies for the Signs

February 7th, 2014 / cat / 0 comments

By Janet Booth

Before reading about these strategies, you’ll want to figure out which signs apply the most to you.


You probably think of “your sign” as the one for the time of year that you’re born, such as Aries for March 21-April 21, etc. That’s what astrologers call your “Sun sign” since that is where the Sun travels at the same time each year. Other planets circle the Sun at their own pace and can be in a variety of signs.

If you know your birth time, you can calculate your chart and find out your “rising sign,” which is the sign at the Ascendant, which is the beginning of your First House. It’s the sign coming up over the eastern horizon when and where you were born. It describes your appearance, physique, physiology, genetics, body and health (modified by the rising sign’s ruling planet, any planets about to rise in the First House, and any connections these make to other planets). Astrologers use the First House as the starting point when they write forecasts for the signs. If you know yours, you should read the horoscope for that sign. Also if you have your chart, see the sign at the starting point (cusp) of your Sixth House, which shows your approach to your health care and the work you do on your body.

Be sure to look at the sign of your Moon. It’s the heavenly body related to eating and emotions and we know there’s a strong connection between these. Those with a Cancer Sun-sign or Rising Sign need to pay special attention to their natal Moon sign, since the Moon rules Cancer. The sign opposite your pertinent signs may also offer you appropriate cautions. All that being said, if something here resonates with you, adopt it no matter for which sign it’s listed. We all have all the signs somewhere in the circle of our chart and you might not know all the pertinent signs for your birth time.


For lunar assistance with weight reduction, begin a program when the Moon is in the waning phase. This is the half of the cycle following the full moon before the next new moon, when the moon’s light is decreasing. That will help you decrease your body size. If you keep a diary or log of your food intake, it would be interesting to see if you consume more near a full moon or if you succumb to additional nervous or emotion-spurred eating when the moon is in a Water sign (see below).

To stick to a plan, begin your program with something planetary in a Fixed sign (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio or Aquarius) to help you stick to it, or in Capricorn (a sign known for focus and discipline). This could be the sign of the Sun, Moon or another of the quick heavenly bodies (Mercury, Venus or Mars). To find out where the planets are traveling and to see the Moon sign on any given day, it helps to have an almanac or an astrological calendar like Janet’s Plan-its. Another option is to check one of the many websites that display the chart for the current moment.

Of course, you’ll want to arm yourself with a cache of good, nutritious food and high quality supplements. Think of ways to reward yourself for good behavior and meeting your goals, aside from food. It wouldn’t be smart for that to be your prize!

To understand the signs’ approaches to slimming or achieving and maintaining your right weight, it’s helps to consider the two ways we categorize the signs:

The Elements: Fire, Earth, Air, Water

Fire (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius)  – People of this element are inclined to be very active, not tending to put on weight. They like everything to be quick and easy. They’re enthusiastic and approach their chosen activities with zeal.

Earth (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn)  – These physical signs are more prone to gain and hold weight than other elements. They often have physical lessons to learn in their life. Their practical nature usually keeps them from trying crazy fads.

Air (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius)  – Natives of this element are mentally-oriented and live in their head, often ignoring their body. But they are apt to gather information and benefit from it. These are the most social signs, preferring not to undertake activities alone.

Water (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces) – This is the emotion-driven element. Like the name, these people may retain water, or use bodily armor (fat) to protect their sensitive nature. They have to get into the right mood to undertake a body improvement program. These are the most suggestible signs, so hypnosis may be a helpful tool for them.

The Modes: Cardinal, Fixed, Mutable

Cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn) are action-oriented and approach matters head on. They’re good at starting things, but they don’t always finish what they’ve started because they’re off to something else.

Fixed signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius) are very good at seeing things through to completion. They’re future-oriented and persistent. They have strong ingrained habits that are resistant to change.

Mutable signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces) waiver and get easily distracted. They often change in the midst of a prolonged project or activity and have a hard time sticking to something. They need a lot of variety.

To see some keywords for the modes and elements as well as the signs and other astrological building blocks, download the free Cheat Sheet at


This sign tends not to have serious weight issues simply because Aries people are so on-the-go that they burn a lot of energy and calories. They also usually like sports and/or exercise, which helps them stay trim. Aries are not joiners per se; they’re more likely to take a solo approach. Anything that isn’t quick and easy, showing results sooner rather than later, will not be a good option for them. Since Aries won’t fuss with meal preparation or take time to measure portions or count points, they’d do well on a healthy eating system that has ready-to-eat meals, shakes or meal-replacement bars. If preparing their own meals, they’re better off to make a lot at once and pack some away for later to save time then.


Slow and steady wins the race for Taurus. This sign can stick to something better than most signs. Habits are either their friends or their enemies. Good habits get them to their goal line; bad habits undermine their progress. Usually a Taurus has a sweet tooth (the sign is ruled by Venus) and craves dairy products (the sign of the Bull is the sign of the cow, as well.) This means they have to watch out for empty calories and fat, and find a way to safely indulge their love of sweets and dairy. They don’t mind eating the same thing over and over. And more than any other sign, they get into the sensuality of eating, appreciating the appearance of food, its color and presentation on the plate, its aroma and texture. This can help them achieve portion control.


A wide variety is the spice of life for the slimming Gemini. They’re hungry for information and should be happy to learn a lot about healthy eating, exercise and weight loss. Their love of learning in general can help them get busy with mental matters and take their mind OFF of food. Breathing is an important activity for all the Air signs, especially Gemini because this sign rules the lungs. Breathing exercises help to control emotions. Aerobics classes or a brisk walk should be appealing. A Gemini in a desk job needs to get up regularly and move about the office. This is the sign related to neighbors, siblings and school chums, making them good candidates to be a walking buddy or for support in weight loss activities. Most of all, a Gemini needs someone to talk to!


This is the sign most related to eating in the first place. Cancers are very influenced by the day-to-day Moon sign changes, being even more subject to their feelings when the Moon is in a Water sign. Cancers love to cook and can immerse themselves in the entire food preparation process, from shopping to searching for and modifying recipes to the actual cooking itself. Concentrating on these may reduce the importance of the eating part, as can focusing on family conversation at the table. Family is so crucial for Cancers. They need their family’s support and could engage them in their program, making a family strategy that involves the shopping. The first place to tackle weight reduction is at the grocery store!


Fun is big for Leos! They should make their eating experience playful and enjoyable. They might want to get artistic with their food and be creative in their display of meals. Spending time with kids or being more like a kid will help them stay on their plan. They can make a vision board to inspire them or put a smiley face or gold star sticker on their calendar on the days they’ve been good. Or they can eat like a kid. Kids play with their food and often leave some on their plate (if they’re allowed to). Leos love entertainment; a lively exercise video is good choice, as is a fun sport. But they need to watch out for mindless eating while watching sports or entertainment. Vanity can be a strong motivating force for Leos, too. They like attention and want to look their best!


Virgo is a very health-conscious sign, though that doesn’t automatically mean all Virgos are trim. With intellectual Mercury as their ruler, they’re like an Air sign, paying more attention to their mind than their body. But this is an Earth sign and some Virgos pack on pounds. Like their Pisces opposite, they’re very helpful and do a lot for others, putting themselves last. They also work hard, sometimes skimping on self-care. They should be a good helper to themselves! Their symbol, the harvest goddess, holds a shaft of wheat, reminding us that grains and whole foods provide fiber for digestion (Virgo rules the intestines). These detail-oriented people like lists and measuring, whether portions, points, calories or carbs, and might enjoy keeping a food diary.


This is the sign of the scales, so we might expect Libras to pay attention to weight. Some people think Libra is a lazy sign but actually it’s more an indecisive sign. Libras appear inactive when weighing and balancing their options. Once they make a decision, they get in GO mode. Like other Cardinal signs, they find it easier to start something than finish it. Since these are partner-oriented people, they should team up with a buddy for their weight reduction or exercise program. Making a commitment to someone else increases the likelihood of keeping it. Like Taurus, Libra is ruled by Venus and appreciates grace. Appealing forms of exercise include gymnastics, yoga, tai chi and dance – especially with a partner! Like Leos, vanity might be motivating to slenderize.


This is the sign most prone to extremes and most inclined toward transformation. Scorpios can give something up easily and they have tremendous persistence. But after making a big transformation through self-denial, they can swing back to the opposite extreme. Maintenance is hard because it requires walking the middle road. They could honor their extreme nature by losing extra weight so it’s okay to swing back, and then have a series of mini-extremes, fluctuating within a certain range, maybe ten pounds, or between two clothing sizes. This sign rules elimination, two main forms of which are exhalation and sweating. So any activity that produces a lot of sweat and heavy breathing is great. They’re usually highly sexual, so having a sexy body is a motivator.


Sagittarians are so optimistic, it works against their best interests. “Tomorrow’s another day. I can start my program then. I’m sure I can lose weight quickly.” They need a dose of realism! Sagittarians are willing to learn all about weight loss, nutrition, supplements, etc. They love the internet and are good candidates for online support and keeping needed information on mobile devices. Like their Gemini opposites, they need variety. This sign is related to foreign matters, so Sag usually likes foreign food, possibly the hot variety – it’s a Fire sign, too. Travel is big for them, so an upcoming vacation serves as motivation. In the body, this sign is related to the hips, belly, butt and thighs, so exercise working these areas are appropriate, like running, walking and riding horses or bicycles.


This Earth sign can be stocky. Fortunately, Capricorns have the best discipline and love to make plans and track progress, especially using checklists. They’re practical, knowing they should “dress for success” and that overweight people are slower climbing the career ladder. This is a frugal sign and these people don’t want to have to buy or alter their wardrobe to accommodate weight gain. Cutting a restaurant meal in half to save some for another day appeals to their budget. Career-oriented Capricorns are so busy with their work, they need to use their time management talents to schedule their exercise. This sign is associated with aging and rules the knees. Whatever exercise is undertaken, it shouldn’t tax the knees too much, especially for older Capricorns.


This is an Air sign. Aquarians live very much in their heads. And it’s a Fixed sign, good for seeing things through to completion. This is the sign of friends, as well as groups and organizations. More than other signs, Aquarians are good candidates for working a weight reduction program by joining a group, with or without a friend in tow. They love technology and are good at it. Online support is natural for them, as is using electronics as an aid, for slimming or anything. The electro-magnetic aura and vibrational fields of the body are in the domain of Aquarius, as is circulation. Aquarians respond well to acupuncture, acupressure massage and whatever gets their blood moving. Exercise classes may appeal but sometimes, they just want to be left alone to do their own thing.


A Mutable Water sign, Pisces is very fluid. Pisces people may look zaftig and can retain water. They are highly attuned to their surroundings, absorbing nearby vibrations. Sometimes they put on weight as protective “armor” and need better boundaries. For slimming success, they need supportive people around them. Music is a Pisces’ friend, whether listening, playing or singing. (The seven notes resonate with the chakras.) It can lift you up when you’re down, calm you when you’re hyper, and motivate exercise. Pisces respond to affirmations, subliminal tapes and hypnosis, but should be cautious with alcohol and medication side effects. This sign rules the feet, benefiting from stimulating foot reflex points. For exercise, Pisces like yoga, dance, and water activities.


This article is not intended to constitute medical advice. Before undertaking a program of weight reduction or exercise, you should check with your physician.

About the author:

After earning a BA in Behavioral Studies, Janet Booth began studying astrology in 1976, reading professionally since 1979 (full-time since 1999). She has a Level II certification from the National Council for Geocosmic Research and serves a national clientele of individuals, couples and businesses. Since 2000, she’s written her annual Janet’s Plan-its astrology calendars and hosted a cable TV show, LOOKING UP, on West Hartford Community Television ( You can watch episodes online from their archive, including the February 2014 show on this very topic. Follow her on Facebook (Astrology-Booth) or sign up for her free newsletters at

























big fire

Cooking with Fire at Open Hearth Pizza

January 13th, 2014 / cat / 0 comments

There is something to be said for it, cooking with fire. It is as if it is coded in our DNA. We seem to be programmed for fire.

Undeniably fire has an allure. Children point and exclaim excitedly, “Look a fire!” and adults stop, stoop to half their height to peek into the oven, and then remain there, mesmerized.

We love fire. We love sitting around a fire. We love cooking with fire.

Many days, we roll out of bed still achy from the previous evening’s gig. Stiff. Groggy. Eyelids half-closed. We mechanically swallow our coffee and force ourselves out the door. It’s about a 30-minute drive to get to the oven, a drive that is done mostly in silence.

When we arrive, the first job is always, light the fire. I am usually the volunteer for the job. It’s one I enjoy profoundly.  Once the fire is started, I should walk back to the kitchen and start packing. Most times, I linger with the fire. Staring deeply, lost in…not even thought really, just lost in the flame, watching it dance, connecting to its energy, an energy as ancient as creation.

Cooking with fire is a special privilege.  Cooking with fire means you are at its mercy. There is no controlling the fire.  You must learn its ways. Cooking with fire requires your presence and attention at all times.

We cook with a fire that keeps the oven around 900 degrees. It is arguable, of course, if cooking with fire is actually slower.

I would argue that time is relative.  It may only take two and a half or three minutes to cook a whole pizza, but try standing in one place, staring at one thing, thinking of nothing but that one thing, for three minutes.

For three long minutes, people waiting on line for pie.

For three long minutes, pies piling up waiting to be cooked.

For three long minutes, thinking, saying, doing nothing, but cooking that pie.

There is no turning down the heat, running to do four other things while you move the pizza to the back burner or flip the timer on for 20 minutes and juggle six other tasks.

Cooking with fire demands from you intimacy.  Often people will ask me when the next pie is coming out and I will say, casually, over my shoulder, “about 12 seconds.”  They joke and laugh and think it’s nuts to be so oddly precise. As the cook, you’re not trying to be anything. You know your fire. You’ve worked with it all day. You know that 20 seconds will produce a burnt crust. You know that 5 seconds will produce an under cooked crust.  Sometimes you count the seconds in your head. Most times it’s just something you know intuitively, becoming one with the dance that is the flame, connecting to its energy, an energy as ancient as creation.

By Stephanie Walker

Stephanie loves all things food, yoga and art, anything where she can practice presence of mind and connect with the divine. Barefoot hiking is her religion.


Recreate, Rethink, Reuse, Recycle – Guest Blog!

December 10th, 2013 / cat / 0 comments

I am honored to feature as a guest blogger at — a site for inspired recycling!

Explore with me the notion of squeezing every bit of work out of the items we own and the food we grow or purchase.  I also share  of how my grandmother taught me to few tips on reuse before recycling, including the making of soulful gifts of food. A few kitchen reuse-before-you-recycle tips also await. :)

Please visit the blog and post a comment!

Before you recycle, recreate, rethink, and reuse!


Christmas Santa Desert

Sugar and the Holidays! Guest Blog Q&A Feat. Isabelle M. Simon

December 9th, 2013 / cat / 0 comments

Certified Nutritionist and Wellness Consultant, Isabelle M. Simon, M.A., C.N. shares with us insights for the sugar-laden holiday season! Happy, Healthy Holidays everyone!

Q: With so many parties this time of the year, and people bringing a lot of sweets to work, how do I avoid putting on weight? How do I avoid the food pushers?

A: The key is balance. If you know you are going to drink more, and have an extra serving (or two) of that tempting chocolate cake, then increase both your raw veggies & protein intake. Also increase your physical activity level, so that you can burn those extra calories.

As for the sweets at work, if it’s store bought, I recommend staying away all together, as the added chemicals and preservatives are killers and pure poison. If it’s home made/baked, and the person insists on you trying their family recipe, and you want to have some, then, don’t torture yourself and have a bite.

If you are gluten intolerant, you could politely ask: “Does it have gluten? I am extremely intolerant and cannot afford to get sick.” If you simply do not want to have it, but do not want to risk hurting the person’s feelings, then you could say: “I’m full right now, but I will try it in a moment, thanks!” Nobody will check to see if you will have some later or not.

Optimized-SWC - Logo HD - Final

Isabelle M. Simon, M.A., C.N.
Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner
Certified Nutritionist & Wellness Consultant
Optimal Health Through Customized Nutrition & Wellness Programs