Top Ten Highlights of 2014
2014 was a year of growth, change, and the opportunity to dive into realms I’ve never before experienced! I’m really excited about where things are going and look forward to what 2015 brings. I hope that more and more people are convinced to try a grain free, soy free dietary lifestyle to correct health issues, prevent disease, and to feel GREAT! And, may each person know that “Your healthy life can STILL be delicious!”
THANK YOU FROM MY HEART!
To my customers and followers, THANK YOU for being a part of my year! It was an incredible blessing to meet you, coach you, share with you, hear your stories, see you take a step toward receiving the gift of better health…and maybe even enjoy one of our grain-free, soy-free cookies, donuts, chocolate bars or pizzas! And just to know that there are so many of us on this journey…together!
Here is a nostalgic look back at the “top ten.5” of 2014 (in no particular order!)
Gardening has been such an unexpected pleasant venture for me, a city girl at heart. In my second official year as a gardener, my friend Bill tilled an expansion to my main garden. In addition, I took over a neighbor’s raised bed (he didn’t want it), and I added a small garden on the south side with the hope of a healthy tomato crop.
Taking an organic approach (I don’t use pesticides and I compost), I have learned my gardening skills by listening, reading, and just doing (trial and error!) Although I remember helping my parents with a large garden as a kid, my main training has come from, well… just literally digging into the soil!
I absolutely love to grow vegetables and herbs. I can’t keep a plant alive in my house, but outside things seem to thrive (what a blessing!) I hardly planted anything this year (much had grown solely from the compost and quite frankly, by total accident), but the seeds I planted were organic and free from the local library’s seed garden (see my post about that here). Besides growing my own vegetables, I was able to take the excess to the market and then I canned fresh vegetables for the winter!
To my utter surprise, for a short time at the farm markets I was the only grower with fresh basil that didn’t contain the dreaded black spots. I was so happy to see lots of happy smiles as customers carried away bags of the amazingly fragrant and fresh herb! I wonder how much pesto was made from it??
2. The GGF Gourmet’s Inaugural Booth
Despite not being initially accepted by several local farm markets at the beginning of the year, and having to overcome tremendous levels of self-doubt (could this girl seriously survive Ohio’s crazy weather, put up a new canopy, and get her message out to the world? Oh, and somehow support her family??) I officially launched The Gluten & Grain Free Gourmet booth at the Granville Farmer’s Market (complete with lots of rain and chilly temperatures!) on May 10th.
The market ran until the end of October, and during the rest of the season I also became part of the Easton Farm Market in Columbus. Later in the season I joined the ranks at the New Albany Farmer’s Market.
As part of the Easton Farmer’s Market, I shared gluten free & Paleo cooking tips and lots of delicious samples with a curious crowd on several occasions.
Later in the fall, I was thrilled to be helping at the Sts. Peter and Paul Retreat Center for a wedding. A guest arrived who had Celiac Disease, but wasn’t listed with the chef for food allergies. I loved being there at just the right moment to whip her up a “Celiac safe” Chef’s salad and even a dessert!
4. The GGF Gourmet Speaks Out!
I want the world to know that they have options to get healthy! My dream is to share my health story with as many people as possible, and I absolutely love being a public speaker. So, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to speak at several venues! I began with the Woven Women’s Girls’ Night Out in August (right).
In September, I spoke on a panel at the Local Food Council about the effect of local foods on health, followed by sharing my story with the local Kiwanis and on a local radio station.
5. The GGF Gourmet + Flying J Farm
Meet Richard Jensen of Flying J Farm.
As my neighbor at the Granville Farmer’s Market (and resident canopy angel!) how could I have guessed that getting to know him and his farm would contribute so much more to my health journey? The farm is strictly non-GMO, organic and the cattle are 100% grass-fed. Visiting his farm propelled me toward even cleaner eating and I gained a new perspective on the importance of local foods.
Visiting his farm was pure joy! There is a beautiful pond, cabin, and an incredible landscape to be treasured. Even the cows seemed to be smiling. Who wouldn’t be? (By the way, if you haven’t sampled the incredible grass-fed beef from his farm, I highly encourage you to try it!)
Richard and I held a joint venture in October as his annual “Fall Festival” at the farm. We made pizza in his new wood-fire oven, held a 5k, had discussions with many of our customers about health and wellness, and enjoyed the abundance of the farm’s delicious harvest (complete on GGF Gourmet pizza crusts!) Oh, and he got his first “selfie” with yours truly!
As if it weren’t enough excitement to have my products offered in a prestigious university’s convenience shop, the location of the items was like a dream come true! To offer these college students an alternative to the typical munchie fare of processed products was truly an honor; to be located front and center makes my heart very proud!
I attended my first Paleo conference and gluten-free conferences in 2014. For quite some time, I had been interacting with other bloggers and partners from the Twitter and Instagram worlds, and it was so incredibly exciting to meet these other bloggers in person!
I was thrilled to join Heather from Stuffed-Pepper, Chef Alain Braux, Darryl Edwards, Chris from Celiac Teen Dad, Cindy from Vegetarian Mamma, Dana from ABC Gluten Free, and even Dougie from Gluten Free Tips at various events across the country. Have I mentioned I love to travel? Join the party with me on Twitter or Instagram!
Rather unexpectedly, I found myself not only attending a gluten free conference at Disneyworld, I was also an EXHIBITOR! That’s right…I even had some “Mickey-inspired” Paleo chocolates to celebrate the occasion. I mean, even a mouse needs his allergen-friendly foods to keep smiling, right?
As part of the launch of my business, I provided over fifty meals to go, all packaged and ready to make a busy GGF life a little easier! Each meal was planned, prepared, and packaged as a gluten free, grain free, soy free and often dairy free option to eat for lunch or dinner. Recipients also had healthy snacks packed for their day at work or school.
In addition to the meals, I sold hundreds of ready-made pizzas and pizza crusts, many to customers who told me that they weren’t even following a gluten free lifestyle! Now, THAT was a BIG compliment!
Several times over the last year, there were some very busy times at the market and I wasn’t always able to help everyone waiting. In December, I was thrilled that my daughter decided to join our growing business. We will be working together to do our best to serve our customers better in the coming year. Although she is busy with a full high school schedule plus college courses, she will be appearing at some of the markets and helping with the various tasks on a day-to-day basis. I might even tuck her in my suitcase from time to time; we’ll see!
10.25 I’m down to one bag of trash!
This was a completely unplanned highlight of my year, but I’m actually pretty excited about it! Have you ever thought about the impact of our trash? The subject has always overwhelmed me. Last year I began a journey of my own to do something about it! Between composting, recycling, and eating whole foods, I am striving to leave less of negative a footprint on this gift of a planet. So, how in the world did I get down to one little bag of trash a week?
COMPOST: Anything that is a vegetable, fruit, egg shell, unbleached paper, or scrap that doesn’t contain dairy or meat goes into my garden compost, along with all of my landscape leavings (except for weeds). This not only enhances my garden soil, none of it is going to a landfill (BONUS! Things grow from it organically!)
RECYCLE: Anything plastic, paper, cardboard, metal or glass (as deemed acceptable by the waste management company) is taken to my local recycling center.
EAT WHOLE FOODS: Most fruit and vegetables don’t come in a package, especially if you buy fresh form the farmer’s market!
As for the trash I did have, I was careful about how I disposed of it. For example, weeds and other biodegradable items go strictly into paper bags (at the landfill, at least they will biodegrade versus be in a plastic bag FOREVER), so all that’s left is a very small amount of trash. Does this take time and effort? Absolutely. It also helps me sleep better, knowing that I’m doing what I can to improve the future for the next generation!
Yes…I really don’t want to bring this up… I’ve been working on my book for a LOOOOONNNNGGG time, and this was by far my biggest heartbreak of the year. Unfortunately, I’ve learned that the publishing world is not as easy to maneuver as I’d hoped, but I still believe that for someone with a story, a mission, and a passion…this will come to be at the right time!
May 2015 bring me the right partner who will say “YES” to this part of my journey, so I can deliver on my promise and finally PUBLISH my book(s)!
Cheers to the new year of 2015! May it be happy, healthy, and blessed!
-Jen of The GGF Gourmet