There’s No Place Like Home: Decorating The Green Suite

I’ve always had a thing for design: graphic, clothing, but especially interior.

As an introverted Cancer, my home is my oasis, my retreat from the world, but also a cozy place to play hostess to friends & family. Since I’m always decorating on a tight budget, my style doesn’t come off as polished as some, but over the years I’ve gotten better & better at pulling things together without breaking the bank. Currently, I’m in the process of decorating a new home and I’m dying to share it with you soon.

In the meantime, however, I’d like to take a look back on my last humble abode: the two bedroom apartment I shared with Nick aka my former flame, current best friend, & founder of The Green Suite.

When I moved in with Nick, his place was very bachelor pad: dark colors, a little disorganized, and minimal furniture. My goal in our redecorating project was to create a home where my vintage furniture wouldn’t feel too girly and our various collections [like my massive arsenal of DVD’s] wouldn’t make things too crowded. Nick & I worked together quite well: what I lacked in hammer & nail skills, I made up for in design know how & visa versa. The finished products included bright blue walls, DVD housing made from re-claimed wood, & a bedroom bright enough to display the great light from our east-facing windows.

Our little Green Suite will always have a special place in my heart with lots of great memories, but as a new chapter of my life begins, I’m happy to have some new digs to compliment it. More on that soon.

 

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[After photos taken by Aaron Ehinger Photography.]

A Detox Drink for the Day After Halloween

For those of you without a calendar or access to the outside world, last night was Halloween. As an occasional actress and everyday costume fanatic, it’s one of my favorite holidays. For my boyfriend Nick, it is THE HOLIDAY of the year [I mean, come on, he teaches about zombie survival for a living]. Because of this, we tend to go all out: parties, candy, decorations, drinking games, festive food…you get the idea.

This year, we conspired together and decided to dress up as Margot & Richie Tenenbaum.

margot and richie halloween 2013 copy

“I think we’re just gonna have to be secretly in love with each other and leave it at that.”

I’d actually started planning my costume about a month before Halloween, but it became a whole lot more popular after this amazing sketch from last week’s SNL:

Our party was so much fun, it was hard to remain Margot-stoic for the camera all night. I broke character on more than one occasion.

margot and richie halloween

Notice the wooden finger on my right hand…Nick MADE that. He’s handy like that.

For our party guests, we prepared my favorite vegan chili & some pumpkin oatmeal cookies [with Enjoy Life chocolate chips added].

The chili was so delicious I ate about five bowls, along with several cookies & a taste of some vegan chai snickerdoodles made by Alicia of Big Vegan Affair [they weren’t gluten-free, but I just had to try them]. Add to that a dirty martini, some Chicago Diner nachos and a few too many pieces of vegan halloween candy & I awoke this morning looking for a dietary re-set button.

So, in the spirit of recovering from your halloween cocktails & candy overdose, here’s a yummy day after halloween detox drink made with kale & carrots to kickstart your body’s cleansing. The fact that it’s festively orange is just a happy halloween accident.

day after halloween detox drink

Pink skeleton approved.

Ingredients [approx. 2 servings]

8 carrots
4 kale leaves
4 celery stalks
2 fuji apples
2 limes

Juice all ingredients together for a vitamin-rich, detoxifying cocktail that’s sweet with just a slight tang. For best results drink immediately & on an empty stomach.

Thankful Thursday: How to Please a Diva [LaVida]

Today is a very special Thankful Thursday, filled to the brim with happy news!

Let’s start things off with some “glowing” praise from recent 6 month program graduate
& supremely talented burlesque dancer Diva LaVida:

diva testimonial

 “I really enjoyed working with Michelle & found her to be a tremendous asset. She never pressured me into wacky diets or asked me to do anything that made me feel less than awesome. Her advice helped to clear up my skin, trim my waist, & got me glowing. Seriously, even my coworkers noticed my positive changes. Woot!”
Diva LaVida

To read even more client testimonials & to find out the details about my 6 month health coaching program visit www.healthhappinessandhulahoops.com & schedule your very own FREE health consultation:
click here button

Other things that I’m Thankful for Today:

♥ the amazing, useful, & entertaining eBook that I’m a contributor to hit #3 on the Amazon Best Seller’s list in our category [Kindle – Advertising]! If you want to read all about how I based my business brand on girly magazines + many more stories of self-promotion & starting your own business, you can purchase Self-Promotion Sucks (but it doesn’t have to) on Amazon for only $4.99!

♥ inspired by my first eBook experience, I’ve decided to write my own! You can look forward to my Health is Beauty how-to guide to clearing your skin & getting that glow this Fall! It’ll be a tight deadline for all the information that I plan to include, but I’m putting it out there into the universe & feel determined I can make it happen. [P.S. If you’re excited by this book idea, leave me a comment of support on the Michelle Shea Walker [dot com] facebook page, I’d really appreciate it!]

♥ my boyfriend Nick was featured in The Chicago Sun-Times this week for his Dabble class on How to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse. It’s always great to see someone so brilliant get the great press that they deserve [especially when it’s the man in your life].

♥ and also, I’m thankful for chia pudding. So. Much. Chia. Pudding. 🙂

What are you Thankful for Today?

Thankful Thursday: 3 Years of Sappy Happiness

Today, I’m thankful for: 

photo strips 2

Celebrating 3 years since meeting the best man I know, Nick Conrad. Seriously guys, if you think I’m just a sappy girl in love, check out my boyfriend’s efforts to save the planet [or just look at what I have to tear myself away from every morning] & tell me I’m not one lucky lady. ♥

Ok, you may now disengage your gag reflex, I’m done making you sick [for now].

What [or who ;)] are you thankful for today?

Thankful Thursday: 1/3/13

Welcome to the first Thankful Thursday of 2013! 
I hope you’re finding plenty to be thankful for, I know I am.

♥ As of breakfast yesterday, I’m thankful for our new waffle iron, a thrift-store steal at just $2.

waffle maker

♥ I’m thankful that I’m sticking to my 2013 writing schedule like a champ. Look for new links in the writing section as soon as my editors are done with them.

♥ I’m thankful for gift cards that pay for much-needed purchases, like a suitable laptop bag. My new writing motto when cabin fever hits: have computer, will travel.

♥ I’m thankful for Nick, who always takes out the trash when I’m too busy/lazy/or cold to make the trek down 3 flights of stairs and into the creepy back ally.

♥ I’m thankful that my schedule allows for an entire day of scouring the internet for creative inspiration. If only every day was so luxurious. Granted, some of that time was spent researching new health & wellness articles, but most of it was enveloped by girly dresses, witty blog advice, Carrie Bradshaw style, & celebrity baby blogs.

What are you thankful for?

It’s the End of the World as We Know It

I’ve never been much of a doomsday prep-er. It’s just not my style.

As an eternal optimist & meditation junkie, I believe that the future is what you make of it…as long as my thoughts remain positive, my future remains bright. Nick, on the other hand, is the eternal boy scout. He may not believe that the world’s really going to end, but he’s determined to be prepared in case it does [check out his tongue-in-cheek zombie survival class to see what I mean]. Over the past year, Nick & I have had a few discussions about the whole Mayan calendar/December 21st topic and have come to the agreement that it’s less about the end of the world & more about the end of an era.

That’s why I was so excited to find today’s video interview between my favorite YouTube personality, Marie Forleo, & the equally awesome Ophi Edut of AstroStyle on how the end of the Mayan calendar is really just the beginning of an exciting new age.

Don’t feel like watching the whole video? Here’s the cliff notes version [+ my own thoughts] on how to thrive in a post-2012 world:

1. Develop & deepen your spiritual tools. This has been a big theme in my life for the past year. Through yoga & meditation, I am slowly finding a spiritual practice that works for me. There’s nothing wrong with the traditional church setting, but I personally find connecting with my spiritual side easier from the quiet of my mind. Meditation has taught me that I have all of the tools that I need within me to create the life that I desire. Which leads us to point #2…
2. Move from waiting to creating. Otherwise known as manifesting your desires, my favorite resources for information on this concept are Gabby Bernstein [who they mention in the video] & The Secret. Your thoughts control your reality & you can make magic in your life once you learn how to use them.
3. Get in touch with your body. Be healthy. Eat your veggies. Move your body. These are all things I help my clients with, but they’re a big part of my own life as well. It’s amazing the clarity & peace of mind you can achieve through complete & total health.
4. Discover your ability to bend time. Yeah, this one sounds a little crazy, but it’s pretty similar to point #2: you can create your own existence by just altering the way you look at the world. If you truly believe that you have enough time to get things done, you’ll stress less, be more productive, and it will feel like the clocks are making time just for you.
5. Join forces & resources with people. In this global community that exists on the web, it’s amazing the people you can find in your corner. Connect & be respectful of everyone you interact with, you never know who can lend a helping hand down the line.
6. Spend more time being around people in-person. As an online introvert, this is the one area I struggle with, but despite my shy nature, I do make sure to schedule face time [not just FaceTime] with the people closest to me. My resolution is to take this further in 2013: unplug more often and head out into the world. Won’t you join me? ♥

Make Something Monday: Hydroponic Window Farm

As I pondered what to post for Make Something Monday tonight, the sound of my boyfriend teaching his monthly class on urban window farming drifted in from our living room. That’s when I realized that the perfect [albeit unusual] topic for today’s post was right under my nose [or, rather, right in my ears]: making a hydroponic window farm.

blue glass window farm

What’s a hydroponic window farm, you ask? Perhaps I should let The Green Suite‘s teacher himself [aka my live-in-love, Nick Conrad] explain:

When I first stared window farming over a year ago, I knew nothing about gardening or hydroponics. I did know that the idea of free, fresh, 100% organic food sounded awesome! After some research and lots of trail and error, I learned how to turn a handful of seeds and a few recycled bottles into a thriving garden.

Window farming is exactly what it sounds like. It is a vertical, hydroponic garden that grows right in your window. This method is perfect for an urban setting because you can grow a lot of plants in a small space. Plants grown in a hydroponic system grow larger and faster than those grown in soil and they don’t require access to a backyard.

One thing that almost all window farms have in common is that they incorporate recycled materials (plastic or glass bottles) into their construction. This not only keeps the cost down but keeps garbage out of the land fill. Win win right? Most window farmers scavenge for parts  or save items from their own recycling to create their systems. Parts that cannot be scavenged (such as pumps, tubing, and lightbulbs) are easily found in hardware stores, pet stores and sometimes even thrift stores, if you’re lucky.

For those who wish to expedite the process, it just so happens that I have several kits available for sale on my website. They are glass bottle kits of my own design which come in several colors (blue, green and brown). Each kit includes a free instructional video to help you with the installation and get you started.

Window farming has changed the way I look at food, improved the way I eat and given me the self satisfaction of knowing that I can provide my own food. So what are you waiting for? Start growing your own food today! You won’t regret it.

 

Make Something Monday: No-Meat and Potatoes Pasta

If I ever write a best-selling cookbook, you can bet that the most popular recipes have been stolen from my boyfriend. I’m the baker of the household, but he is definitely the chef. Don’t get me wrong, I can cook, but Nick can actually create a dish. This talent comes in handy when he’s cooking for his vegan/gluten-free girlfriend. Creativity is a must when using substitutions…and when we’re running low on groceries.

For instance, last week, we were feeling pretty sparse on our usual cooking supplies [hot peppers, rice, beans…basically anything you put in Tex Mex food], but we did have some gorgeous green beans courtesy of Door to Door Organics that needed to be used before wilting. So, in his brilliance, Nick threw together a pasta dish with green beans, potatoes, onions, and a touch of Better Than Bouillon’s vegan beef broth for a savory flavor that can satisfy any Midwesterner’s craving for meat & potatoes.

bonus: add mushrooms for that extra meaty texture.

Ingredients

2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 lb fresh green beans, stems removed
3-4 small red potatoes, cubed
1/2 red onion or 6 green onions, chopped
8 oz water + 1 tbsp Better Than Bouillon vegan beef flavor for broth
brown rice pasta, your desired amount
olive oil for pan

Cook pasta according to package instructions [you know the drill, boil water, cook til desired texture, rinse with cold water after draining, etc].
Combine Better Than Bouillon and water in a large bowl & whisk together until disolved.
In a large skillet or wok, brown garlic in a shallow pool of olive oil.
Add cut potatoes to garlic & cover pan. Allow to cook for 15 minutes or until potatoes have softened.
Add broth, green beans & onion to pan. Cook covered for 15 minutes or until onions & green beans have reached desired texture.
Once both vegetables & pasta have been cooked, add pasta to pan & toss together with vegetables & broth.
Serve alone or with a sprinkling of nutritional yeast for added cheesiness. Enjoy.

We are the Change that we seek.

Things are changing as quickly as the colors on the leaves around here! Perhaps you’ve noticed the lack of recipe posts on the blog as of late…it’s not that I’ve lost my passion for baking, it’s just that I’ve been otherwise occupied.

What’s keeping me so busy, you ask? Exciting new ventures!

First, there’s my fledgling career as a freelance health & wellness writer. My first submission was just publish on TheNest.com & there are several more in the works. I’ll keep you posted on my progress as the other articles hit the web.

Second, I have a new advice column on Miseducated.net. I’m super excited about this collaboration because I’ve always loved Miseducated’s girly design & positive content. Be sure to submit all of your health & lifestyle questions ASAP so that I have something to write about!

Third, there’s my upcoming FREE sugar blues workshop this Friday, October 26th. Want to join the conference call on how to kick your sugar addiction just in time for halloween? Become a fan of Health Happiness & Hula Hoops on facebook & receive your invite to the call later on this week!

Speaking of workshops, I’ve been helping the Omnivore prepare to teach his Zombie Survival Training class, a workshop to prepare survivors for the zombie apocalypse. It sounds silly, but he’s actually included a lot of practical advice on growing your own food & producing your own electricity in case of any large-scale disaster event. Also, check out his company, The Green Suite, where you can buy your own window farm kit or take a solar energy class.

And finally, you may have noticed that things are starting to look a little different around the blog. I’m in the middle of a redesign and trying to figure out the specifics for transferring the url from michellesheawalker.com to michellesheawalker.com [which is currently just a catch-all of resumes & links]. Don’t worry, lovely veg-heads, the blog will still be just as vegan as I am, but the name change will allow me the freedom to explore other topics as well [like wellness, mental health, home decor, & fashion] without feeling the need to include the v-word in every single post.
[Bonus: casting a wider net might attract some omni’s to the v-club…sshhh, don’t tell. ;)]

 

 

Make Something Monday: Stuffed Peppers w/ Mexican Style Rice

Today’s Make Something Monday post is a guest written by Nick Conrad [aka the Omnivore]. It’s one of our favorite dishes to make at home & was a huge hit when we served it at our Vegan Thanksgiving: Stuffed Peppers w/ Mexican Style Rice!
There are three phases to the stuffed peppers: the rice, the beans, and the peppers. Since the rice takes the longest lets start that first. Here’s what you’ll need:
[from AllRecipes.com]
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2/3 cup diced onion
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked white rice
  • 1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon powdered saffron
  • 3 cups water

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over a medium-low heat.
Place the onions in the pan, and saute until golden.
Add rice to pan, and stir to coat grains with oil.
Mix in green bell pepper, cumin, chili powder, tomato sauce, salt, garlic, saffron, and water. Cover, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to simmer.
Cook for 30 to 40 minutes, or until rice is tender. Stir occasionally.

While thats cooking, you can start the beans. Black beans are the best but you can use others as well. Here’s what you will need for the beans:

  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 Jalapenos, chopped
  • 1 can of beans (15.5 oz)
  • 2 tsp of olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes

Place the garlic in a small sauce pan along with the oil and red pepper flakes.
Cook on low to med heat for about five minutes until the garlic is golden brown. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
Next, add the jalapenos. Cook for another five minutes and then add the beans.
Cover and reduce heat to low. Let simmer for about 10 minutes or until the rice is ready.

Now you can start the pablano peppers. Here is what you will need:

  • Two Pablano peppers (Cut in half and cleaned w/ seeds removed)
  • 1/2 cup Daiya Pepper Jack Cheese
  • 2 Morning Star Vegan Grillers burger patties

First preheat the oven to 350 and place frozen burger patties directly on the first rack in the oven.
Next place the four pepper halves in a large pot and cover with water.
Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil peppers for about five minutes.
Remove the peppers and set them aside.
Remove the burger patties from the oven once they are warm & thawed.
Dice or crumble, your choice, the patties and set them aside.
Once the rice and beans are done, you can assemble the stuffed peppers.
Rice goes in first then the beans, the burger patty crumbles and the cheese on top.
Place all the peppers in a baking pan or casserole dish.
Now place the pan in the oven and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes until the cheese has fully melted.
Plate & serve each pepper half with additional rice & beans on the side. Enjoy!