Category Archives: Book
I hope this finds you all doing well these days. I am making it through this especially frigid Pennsylvania winter. I am NOT a cold weather person so these last several months of snow and plunging temperatures has not been my scene. I’m ready for summer. Forget springtime and the rain. Bring on the hot temps!
I wanted to bring you up to date with a few things happening around the whole First Comes Health world. As usual, I’ve been experimenting around the purple kitchen of mine getting a few new recipes to post (next week!). With the seasonal changes that are (hopefully!) upon us soon, I’m getting ready to start kicking my food preservation efforts into high gear. This means, not only am I going to be fermenting things, but pickling, dehydrating, canning, and more. I’m getting involved in the Pittsburgh Canning Exchange this year! I was lucky enough to be invited to their fall swap a few months ago so I could sell copies of Fermented and I told the organizers that I had to be involved in any manner possible in 2014. I’m meeting up with them in the coming weeks and I’m really excited.
If you happen to be in the western Pennsylvania area, I’m teaching two sessions of a class on how to start fermenting at home. Each one is hosted by Fox Chapel Area Adult Education. They are March 25 and April 8, both at 7 pm. Check out their website for more details!
I’m finding it very difficult to communicate with all of you, dear readers. If you’re a regular reader of any blog out there, you’ve probably heard this familiar lament – Facebook is messing with us! What started out as a really great way for small businesses to communicate with clients and fans has morphed into a disappointing dead end. Boo. I am truly grateful for all 4700 or so of you who “like” me on Facebook, but I know that only a wee percentage of you are actually seeing First Comes Health in your newsfeeds. You can change this by making sure that “show in newsfeed” is checked when you hover over the LIKE button on this page. It’s totally discouraging when I put something up there and see that only 71 of you have seen it. I hope you’ll help me change this around!
I also want to remind you that there are many other ways you can keep in touch with me, know when I’m doing something, see photos of my antics (both culinary and personal), and interact. I’m on Instagram (my favorite!), Twitter, and have a newsletter too. And in a shameless act of bribery, I’m going to give you some incentive to connect with me – a signed copy of Fermented. I’m also trying out this Rafflecopter stuff, so please bear with me!
So, that’s about all for now. The giveaway lasts for a week (officially ending on 12 March at midnight!), so enter and spread the word to others, please. You have multiple chances to be successful!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I’ve been wanting to share some photos of the Fermented Release Party since last Friday night, but quickly realized that I didn’t have any photos to show. I was sitting at a table signing books all evening and didn’t snap a single one myself.
So, without further ado, please enjoy scenes from Fermented’s big debut!
(Espresso a Mano – my friend Matt Gebis generously allowed me to take over his gorgeous coffee shop on Friday night.)
(It’s still so surreal to see my name on this beautiful book. My little book that could.)
(My buddy Janelle, also known as The Primal Burgher. Check out her website, folks!)
(So many of my friends and family showed up to support Fermented. I am especially grateful to my CrossFit posse from Industrial Athletics CrossFit Alloy. At one point or another throughout the evening, I think almost every member of my box stopped by to offer congratulations, buy a book, have a coffee, and hang out.)
(My Uncle Tom, Aunt Mary Rita, Aunt Rie, Uncle Bill, and cousin Rhonda. These folks get the award for traveling the farthest distances to be there. Virginia, Michigan, and Indiana were well represented! My mother-in-law Shirley, and sister-in-law Sharon came from the other side of Pennsylvania.)
(It wouldn’t be a class-act gathering without the food of LadyFingers Private Chef and Catering. My dear dear friend Diane made all the food for the event and this is just a small sampling of what we all got to eat. Be jealous!)
There will be a few more to come so stay tuned on Instagram and Facebook to see those. A BIG BIG hearty thank you to every single one of you who came out to say hello and buy a copy of Fermented. I am so immensely grateful for the fabulous reception it has received so far and I owe it all to all of you out there! THANK YOU!
Well, there it was. The little release party for a the little book that could.
If you will indulge me, I’d like to take a post here on the ole blog and give thanks to everyone who came out this evening. SO MANY PEOPLE came to say hello, buy a book, have it signed. And guess what – they weren’t all people I already knew! I’m so surprised that actual people – people who are strangers to me! – came and bought the book and talked fermentation and real food!
So, in true Oscar/Emmy/Grammy style, I’m going to give my thank you speech. And because I run this blog, there won’t be any music playing me off the stage. Ha ha.
First and foremost, I have to thank Espresso a Mano. Matt generously opened his beautiful business to me and let me have this party. If you are a Pittsburgher, you MUST become a regular at Espresso a Mano. If you’re from out of town, be sure to stop there for the best espresso in the area when you’re passing through. I love Matt and his dedication to his craft is second to none. Thanks, Matt!
Thank you to the fabulous LadyFingers Private Chef and Catering Service for the fantastic food! Diane, Jim, and Coletta – the evening was made by your delicious food, attention to detail, and top-notch customer service. I am so grateful to call you all friends!
My parents, Jack and Kathy bought everyone coffee to go with the evening. I hope you all took advantage of that! Thanks for all the support, Mom and Dad!
My Uncle Tom, Aunt Mary Rita, Uncle Bill, Aunt Rie, and cousin Rhonda – I am so grateful to all of you for traveling so far to come to this little gathering. Virginia, Michigan, and Indiana were all represented!
My mother-in-law Shirley and my sister-in-law Sharon – What a grand surprise it was to see your faces! Thank you for coming!
To my Industrial Athletics CrossFit Alloy family – I hope you know just how truly special you all are to me. The fact that nearly the entire clientele of the box came and hung out and supported me is a wonderful testament to the fantastic community we’ve built in just a few months. I love you all so dearly. You mean more to me than you’ll ever know.
To friends old and new, thank you. I’m not sure what else to say other than that. Thank you. It was so great to see you ALL this evening.
To my Dude! Thanks for carrying all those boxes of books. I love you.
I’ll post some photos on Facebook and Instagram tomorrow. For now, I’m going to rest my signing hand and get ready for the next event – Sunday!
**This giveaway has ended. Thanks to all who entered!**
Hi everyone! Today is THE DAY. All capital letters, natch!
Fermented is NOW available in bookstores everywhere!
I never thought I’d type those words.
Anyway, I want to celebrate this day by giving away THREE signed copies of Fermented to three lucky people!
This isn’t going to be complicated. Here is the usual rundown:
1. Leave me a comment and tell me what you plan to ferment first once you get your hands on the book.
2. Sign up for my newsletter for an additional entry. I swear there will be no spam or excessive letters from me clogging your inbox.
4. Already connected with me in every way possible? Then recruit a friend to my fermentation army! I’ll give you an additional entry for every person you send to get connected with me using the above methods. Drop me an email and let me know who your friend is and that’s it!
Here is the fine print: I’ll accept entries until Saturday, August 10, 2013 at noon EDT. After that I’ll draw three names at random, email the winners, sign and send the books to them. Don’t delay, folks!
Good luck to all!
Oh my dear readers, I don’t know if I can adequately explain to you what I’m feeling right now. You see, in less than 24 hours I will be able to go to a bookstore and see the bound physical representation of a year’s hard work sitting on a shelf for sale to the public. Add to this that my last name could afford me the distinct opportunity to be shelved near, or even immediately adjacent to, Julia Child and honestly it brings tears to my eyes. I go from being bouncing-off-the-walls excited to quiet emotion and reflection over just how impactful this is for me.
I truly hope you’ll purchase a copy, read it, learn from it, enjoy it, and most of all start to ferment your own food.
I wanted to provide you with some information that may prove helpful in the upcoming days and weeks.
First of all, Fermented is available for purchase from a variety of sources.
2. Barnes and Noble (Both from their website and in stores)
4. Whole Foods Market (Pittsburgh)
5. Whole Foods Market (Wexford, PA)
6. East End Food Co-op (Pittsburgh)7. Book Depository.com (free international shipping!)
Also try your local small book retailer!
When Fermented is released (tomorrow! Woot!) I would truly appreciate a review on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, and Goodreads.com. Doing so will help others find Fermented and (hopefully!) become fermentation devotees too.
I also have some signings and more planned over the next couple of months. This list will be growing!
1. August 16, 2013 – Fermented Release Party! Stop by Espresso a Mano (3623 Butler Street, Pittsburgh, 15201) anytime from 6 pm to 9 pm and celebrate the release! Fermented will be for sale and I’ll be there signing books.
2. August 18, 2013 – Join me at the I Made It! Market at Marty’s Market and Wigle Whiskey where I’ll be selling and signing copies of Fermented! Check out all the other handmade goods while you’re there too. The fun starts at 11 am and goes until 3 pm.
3. September 4, 2013 – The I Made It! Market is hosting a fermentation basics class taught by lil’ ole me! It will be at the Quiet Storm cafe in Garfield (Pittsburgh). More details and registration info is right here. It’s from 6 pm to 8 pm.
4. September 7, 2013 – The Penguin Bookshop in Sewickley, PA is having me over for a signing AND it coincides with Sewickley’s farmers’ market. A perfect combo! I’ll be there from 10 am to 1 pm.
5. September 14, 2013 – I’m going back to my hometown area (kind of) and will be at the Bridgewater Bookfest! Stop by and say hello, and pick up a copy of Fermented!
That’s about all for now. I am so excited, you guys! And I am overwhelmed with gratitude to each of you who have already ordered Fermented, taken the time to drop me a line to tell me how excited you are to receive it, etc. Your support means more to me than I’m able to express.
I am so so so so so so pleased (really!) to announce to you that on Friday, August 16, 2013 I am throwing a little fete for Fermented. I want everyone to come out and celebrate!
Here’s what you need to know:
Where: It will be held at Espresso a Mano right here in Pittsburgh (That would be the Lawrenceville neighborhood for those of you are local or are well versed in Burgh ‘hoods.) My friend, Matt, owns the joint and he is letting me use his beautiful coffee shop as the launching grounds for Fermented. The address is 3623 Butler Street, Pittsburgh, 15201
When: Friday, August 16, 2013 from 6pm to 9pm. A day of significance for a few reasons. I’m so happy that it is working out that this celebration can be on this day.
Why: Why not?
Additional details: If you’ve already pre-ordered Fermented, you ought to have it in your hands by then. Bring your copy along and I’ll be delighted to sign it. If you’d rather wait, buy your copy there at the party and I’ll still sign it!
If you buy/bring a book to sign, you’ll get a free cup of coffee for your generosity.
There will be snacks, beverages, and maybe even a few party favors for the first several dozen of you who come on in. The theme will be fermentation, of course, and (hopefully) you’ll be leaving the soiree with a very thorough how-to manual on the topic.
Please stop on by and say hello, check out the book, have a cup of coffee, some snacks, and toast the world of fermentation.
If you follow me on Facebook, then you already know that yesterday was a monumental day for me. One that I have been working towards for months and a significant milestone in my personal biography that won’t soon be forgotten. I officially turned in Fermented to my publisher!
It was a rather easy process, although lengthy. The manuscript took about 4 seconds to upload, but the 117 photos took over 5 hours, and even after all that I still had to manually upload a group of them one by one. When it was all over, it was an enormous relief. I was sitting on my couch, kitty nearby. I was alone. All was quiet, it finished uploading, and that was it. Months and months of hard work was sent through cyberspace into the hands of my publisher.
There are many steps to take between today and when it is available (August 6!), and I still have a lot of work to do, but the hardest part is done. After it was finished uploading I sat for a moment and just thought about all that it took to get to that point. I don’t know about others’ experiences, but for me book writing was very difficult. These past several months have been grueling at times and more than any other experience I’ve had in my adult life, writing Fermented has been the most formative.
So, I’m going to share with you the reasons why. I honestly don’t think these lessons I’ve learned are exclusive to writing a book. I fact, I know they aren’t. We all find ourselves faced with life altering circumstances, good and bad, and we learn from them. I’m just listing what I’ve learned from all this and hoping that someone can relate.
You can do whatever you put your mind to – From the moment I was offered this book contract until I actually turned it in, I doubted my ability to complete the project. Sometimes it was only a little sliver of doubt but in the first 3 or 4 months of writing and planning I made myself ill with doubt. All I could think about was EVERYTHING I had to do before turning it in and I couldn’t figure out where I was going to find the time to do it all. I doubted my ability to adequately research food fermentation. I doubted my culinary skills. I doubted my intelligence and my legitimacy. Finally, around Thanksgiving, I told myself that I was on this book train, it was happening, people were counting on me to write it, and I had two choices: Write it, or don’t. Really in my mind I had one choice and that was to suck it up and do it. I re-purposed my doubt and turned my attitude around. I was writing a book for heaven’s sake, not going to the electric chair! From that point on, the words flowed more easily, the work didn’t seem like drudgery, and I started to really enjoy what was happening. Obviously I finished it and I even turned it in early! And these last several months of work were so much easier than the first several months because I believed I could do it.
Cut the static and noise out of your life – I had two sources of noise in my life. The first was literal noise in the form of my next door neighbor’s seemingly always cranky baby and their yappy little dog. The other was in the form of figurative noise – life drama! How does that Internet meme go? Ain’t nobody got time for that. If I wanted to complete this project, I had to find a way to focus on my job, focus on my goal, and focus on accomplishing something great.
To solve the first problem, I found the best website ever created, SimplyNoise.com. No joke, I thank them in the acknowledgements of Fermented. Everyday I’d crank up some pink noise and it was like that child and dog didn’t even exist. Easy solution! Highly recommended.
For the second, I had to do something that did not come naturally to me. I had to put myself first. It was very difficult to tell people no. It was hard to say that I didn’t want to be a part of things. It was awkward to just disappear from life. It felt unnatural and cruel to tell people that I didn’t have time for their problems. But if I wanted to accomplish my goal, I had to make my needs a priority above those of the people around me. Call it selfish, but I call it necessary at times.
Many people understood and were quite supportive of what I had to do. Others weren’t, but maybe it’s just because they weren’t getting the attention from me they once were. I had to stop feeding the drama and participating in others’ ordeals to get this book finished.
Now that I’m on the other side of the project, I’ve vowed to return to my previous habits of putting others first; however, not blindly so. These past several months of living in a drama-free zone have been quite nice and have lowered my tolerance for unnecessary static. I’m definitely adopting that new attitude for the long haul.
It is very easy to let your healthy habits fall by the wayside – I’m not proud of it, but there were days when I was eyeball deep in writing when my lunch would be a few medjool dates and some coconut butter. And maybe a chunk of a chocolate bar. And some chocolate chips. There were days when, out of necessity, I had to skip workouts and there were days when I had just had my fill of not being lazy so I’d make an excuse (“I worked SO HARD today and wrote a zillion words! I just want to veg on the couch!”) and not go. It all happened so fast and so easily. Many times, I’d have a chocolate chip lunch and not workout and I wouldn’t even feel guilty about it. Just being honest.
I don’t have children to care for and my only full-time job during this whole book endeavor has been writing, so it isn’t even like I had to write it AND hold down a job to pay my bills. But still, the healthy habits flew out the window with remarkable ease. Frightening ease! It made me truly realize how quickly one’s health can get away from you!
I’m not completely out of shape and I haven’t even grown out of my clothes, so the situation isn’t extreme, but I do have some ground to make up if I want to be the fit and ripped 40 year old I say I want to be by the end of this year.
Sleep is your friend – Seriously, if I learned nothing else from book making it is that I need to get more sleep. I had some weird sleeping rhythms before the book, but throughout the past several months my sleep habits were stressed to the max. BTB (before the book) I would fall asleep very easily and usually stay asleep until about 5:30 or 6, regardless if I had gone to sleep at 9 pm or 1 am. I just woke up and would be awake for the rest of the day. DTB (during the book) I would sometimes fall asleep quickly, but often not, and then I would wake up for 2 or 3 hours at a stretch, and THEN I’d still wake back up at 5:30 or 6. This went on for months. Sometimes I’d get up and work/write in the middle of the night, but more often I’d just flop around wishing to fall back to sleep. Sometimes I’d cruise Pinterest in hopes of lulling myself away to slumberland (I know! Electronics in the bedroom mean no sleep! I was desperate!). I have developed dark circles and bags under my eyes. My skin is dull. I’m doughy and I don’t have much energy. I know this sleeping mess contributed to my poor eating habits, which contributed to my poor sleeping, which contributed to my poor eating habits, which….. You’re seeing my pattern here. I have a lot of napping and sleeping to do to get back to normal. I feel so tired and I look so tired. I’m ready to get back to sleeping!
Lean on the people you love and trust most – No matter what’s going on or how busy I am, I always make dinner. However DTB there were a few weeks where I was preparing for photo shoots and writing where I didn’t even think about meal planning or cooking dinner. Finally I told Dude that he was in charge of dinners for a while. And you know what? He was great at it. Just one example of how I had to let go of some of the things that I regularly control and put them in the capable hands of someone trustworthy. I’m not Wonder Woman, and I had no time or interest in trying to “do it all”. I knew when I had reached my capacity and then asked for help.
In the midst of a crazy period maintain as much normalcy as possible – Although things were often turned around for me and my schedule, I tried very hard to maintain normal working hours. For the most part, I wrote Fermented on weekdays from 8 to 5. Now, there were MANY weekends where I worked, and there were the aforementioned middle of the night sessions, but I still maintained my workday no matter what. I had to keep myself on a schedule in order to maintain some regular life rhythm. I’m a schedule and routine person and without that I’d be lost. I couldn’t afford to keep crazy hours and possibly allow the wheels to fly off my momentum train. I needed the regularity.
The same goes for my workouts. I wasn’t anywhere near perfect with it, but I still managed to start training for my upcoming half marathon, go to yoga, and catch an occasional CrossFit WOD here and there.
Taking a mental health day now and again is really worth it – There were days when the words just wouldn’t come. There were days when the ideas just weren’t there. When this happened, I mostly just pushed through it and kept working. I just kept typing and revising and typing and revising until something materialized. But there were two or three difficult days when I just didn’t work at all when the going got tough. I watched TV, I napped, I went on a drive. And then I started up again with fresh ideas. I felt guilty at the time, but realized that the break was just what I needed. For my readers who are runners, I thought of it as the Galloway Method of book writing.
Crying is good – I am really not a crying type of person. My mom gets emotional very easily, mostly at good things, but I have never been that way. Sure, I cry now and again like anyone else, but it’s rare. Funerals, tragedies, immediately after meeting the Farriss brothers, etc. The usual tear-worthy events. During the writing of this book, however, I cried a lot. Sometimes it was hysterical panicked “How am I ever going to do this?!” kind of crying, but most other times it was just a release of pent-up anxieties. It felt so good to cry a little bit. I recommend it.
So, there you have it. Like I said above, these are the lessons I learned throughout my unique opportunity, but they certainly aren’t unique lessons. We’ve all been tested and we’ve all had stressful experiences that have changed us for the better. I’m curious to know what you have gone through and what you’ve learned. For better or for worse! Please share with me in the comments or on Facebook.
Oh, and don’t forget to pre-order your copy of Fermented A Four Season Approach to Paleo Probiotic Foods! You now have an insight into what it took to make it, and putting it into the hands of eager readers who are interested in food fermentation will make it all worth it! Thank you!
I have been dreaming of this day and it has finally arrived! My book, Fermented. A Four Season Approach to Paleo Probiotic Foods, is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com!
Yep! The book I’ve been briefly talking about here and there, the giant massive enormous project that I’ve thrown myself into lo these past six months, the reason my wee blog has been nearly dead for the longest while, is almost finished and I’ve reached the next milestone – seeing it up for sale!
There is MUCH more to come!
I don’t know about you, but right now I’m feeling quite overwhelmed. We all seem to go through these phases where there is just so much on the calendar and so much to accomplish that it is almost painful to think about how everything will be accomplished, let alone how everything will be accomplished well.
For me, I’m juggling a few things right now. Obviously, my first priority is my fermentation book. It is the biggest undertaking of my entire life thus far, so obviously it is getting the majority of my attention. I’ve never written a book before so everything is uncharted territory for me! There are so many details to think about and so much work involved. I’m loving it, but at the same time, I’m feeling the heat.
Beyond that I have my own goals to work on, a household to manage, a business to maintain. I’m also a worrier so even though I’m not personally enduring a particular hardship, I do worry about my loved ones who are facing difficult times. (I know I’m creating more stress for myself by doing that, but it’s just the way I am. Working on it!)
Amongst all this hoopla, I am very fortunate to have some sane voices in my life. Specifically Dude, my parents, and a few close friends. I call them my own personal advisory board. When I’m stymied over how to handle a troublesome situation, I go to them. Often when I know I have to do something that is particularly painful and I just don’t want to do it, I go to them for the nudge in the right direction. When I don’t want to face a harsh truth, they are the trusted people in my life who give me the straight dope.
Something that my advisory board has been giving me lately, is the advice to zoom in on all that is making me feel overwhelmed. The reason I feel overwhelmed with everything going on is that I am looking at all of these things on my to-do list, all of the stressors, all of the things I’m worrying about, and I am trying to solve them all today and right now or five minutes ago. Instead, this “zooming in” advice is telling me to focus on one thing at a time, one day at ta time, one moment at a time.
We’ve all heard the adage, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint!” Yes. Life is a marathon in so many ways, but even in a marathon nobody is running 26.2 right this very instant. It is a prolonged task that is made up of one mile at a time and one foot in front of the other.
So that’s what I’m doing these days. I’m zooming in. I’m making lists and then I’m just choosing ONE thing on that list to focus on for this moment. I’m going to do it well, and not worry about the rest of the list until it’s time.
I can get frazzled and frayed over ALL that I have to do before turning this book in. I can get stressed out and lose sleep over buying a new house and moving. I can get emotional about the new house deal falling apart. None of this is serving me, however. What’s the point?
Instead, I’m focusing on what I have to accomplish today, in this hour, at this moment. The big picture is fine, but for now I’m zoomed in very tightly on today’s agenda and that’s all.
Now, it’s your turn to share your experiences. Are you overwhelmed? How do you manage everything when you’re feeling this way? Who are your closest confidants and how do they help you when things get stressful? Do you find that “zooming in” on one day or hour or moment at a time makes a colossal to-do list seem more manageable? Share with me in the comments or on Facebook.
Well, hello to all!
I have to give a big THANK YOU shout out to my friends Hayley and Bill of The Food Lovers’ Kitchen as well as Diane from Balanced Bites for telling all of my new readers about me. Thanks, friends! And welcome to all of you who are stopping by for the first time.
I figured that given this new influx of super readers and the big response I had over on Facebook to a question I put up a few days ago, that today might be a really good day to let you all in on a little secret I’ve been keeping for a little while.
The other day I was taste testing some kombucha that I made and asked everyone what their favorite flavors were. I got a really healthy response and some terrific ideas that I plan to try today when I am in the First Comes Health kitchen bottling another round of my ‘bucha. And then someone asked me if I ever share my recipes……..
Well, no and yes. No, because I haven’t ever shared them before. It’s not like they’re top secret, I just haven’t really ever put them on the site. And yes, because I will be sharing them soon. Just not here on my site. More like, I’ll be sharing them in the book I’m writing about food fermentation.
Did you get that? I’m currently writing a book about food fermentation!!! WOOT WOOT!!
If all goes as planned, it will be out on shelves and on Amazon.com sometime next summer and will contain, among much else, my kombucha flavoring ideas, recipes, and combinations. It will also have much more in there, many kinds of ferments, how-to, recipes, and more.
So, that’s my big (BIG BIG!!) announcement! I’ve been working away everyday on this and have a long way to go, but I am positively thrilled.
Please stay tuned for updates, sneak peaks, and more specific information about all of it in the coming months. I plan to keep everyone up to date here on the old blog, plus on Facebook and Twitter, so follow me there too and you won’t miss a single detail.
p.s. How do you like these photos? Just a tiny sample of the great work Bill Staley did for me so far.