Zooooooooooooooooooom. Zoooooooooooooooooooo-ooooooom ~ Chase Me Now! Taming the Crazy that is Puppyhood

In the World of Dog, evening crazies are actually a thing, particularly in puppies. “International Puppy Zoomie Time” often occurs between 7:00-9:00 p.m., on a nightly basis, immediately before your new youngster crashes for the evening. You hope. Or, it may not be until the early hours of the morning.

Posted on May 1, 2018 and filed under Animals, Issue 69, Pets.

Woman Within International — First Person with Lauren Tatarsky

Lauren Tatarsky is the facilitator of Ann Arbor’s Women’s Circle, a private practice Spiritual Guide at Inspired Life Counseling. Here she shares her first person perspective of joining Woman Within International.

What need attracts women there? What outcome?

My experience was that a lot of women came because they had a desire to connect with other women. Many shared that they struggled in their relationships with women and wanted to pursue more supportive connections. Many were also drawn because they desire a space for personal growth among a tribe of women. I remember a number of voices about personal healing in the company of wise and loving women. I also know a number of women who had friends or family members who had gone and so came almost solely based on the high recommendation.

Personal healing and connection to a community of women. I’m thinking this question and the first question, though different, actually have the same answer. I think women receive exactly what they come for. It is a powerful weekend that does in fact accomplish the desires shared above in amazing ways.

Does the retreat space meet the goals in your experience?

Yes, beautifully. I went to the retreat in Julian, California, outside of San Diego. The retreat space was in a beautiful setting, meals were delicious, spaces were supportive of the process. Some women may have been surprised that we slept in large rooms with many bunk beds and shared bathrooms. I found them quite comfortable.

When in life is this coming into focus for many women? Are there common times of life like menopause or healing from divorce that this experience uplifts for people in your experience?

I think a lot of women felt themselves to be in a time of transition and in need of new inspiration, direction, healing from the past, a supportive and loving environment (many had so little of this in their own lives). Since the retreat is open to all women over 18, the details of these transitions varied. Yes, I do think many came after a divorce and/or empty nest situation. Some came, like me, out of college and looking for personal growth and community. Others because they were of an age where they wanted to share their wisdom with younger women and be honored as an elder. Still others because they felt lost and needed to find themselves again, or something painful had occurred in their lives and they needed to find a way back home to themselves.

Why is it transformative?

Great question. I think it’s transformative first and foremost because it creates a sacred container for women, in a way that has been lost in our culture for too long now. It brings back the essence of red tent times, of times when women knew how to be with one another in our journeys. The rituals, conversations, and activities are all conducted in a very sacred way. There is a lot of space for internal connection and exploration as well as deep sharing and support. There is significant emphasis on women supporting women and powerful rituals that allow this to occur in an embodied way. It is an experiential retreat, where one experiences being held by other women, being seen and understood, engaging in deeply healing rituals and conversations that allow women to release old wounds and open to new life.

Why does it work?

Aha, the mystery. The energy exchange between women that occurs in a sacred container? The power of ritual? The power of holding sacred space for each other’s healing? The safety and permission? The acceptance and love? The sacred setting? It’s a mixture of factors that come together to create transformation, both a science and an un-nameable thing. 

How did you feel in it and after it?

At first I felt nervous, not knowing any women or what was about to happen. This is to be expected. It didn’t take long for the experience to ease us and welcome us in. I felt like it was a transcendent experience. Otherworldly. It was like a craving deep in my bones had been wholly satisfied. I also had a deeply healing experience that created a sense of profound connection to myself, to other women, and to the ultimate sacred. It has represented a home-base for my experience of who I really am and what our human existence is really about.

Given the rise in consciousness around female empowerment in recent events, what need do you see Woman Within responding to? Do you see it growing?

I really imagine it growing, but I am always surprised by how few women know about the organization. More men know about ManKind Project than women know about Woman Within. I’m really not sure why. I find myself thinking that Woman Within created a powerful foundation for the rise of women we are seeing today. Perhaps, in an unseen way, they were part of making what we see now more possible. I see that they are evolving a bit with the times and adding new kinds of retreats. It will be interesting to see how it evolves.

What are E Circles? How do women continue this work together?

E Circles are groups of women who meet regularly after having attended a Woman Within weekend. After your retreat, the agency will connect you with other women in your area who either have an E Circle already operating that is open to new members, or they will connect you with other women who have attended the retreat and are looking to start a circle. More experienced women in your area will train your group to start your own, based on the powerful and amazing principles of the retreat. Some of these circles have been going on for many, many years. The circles contain a lot of ritual and communication elements that you engage in at the retreat, so the level of depth is profound, available, and supported by the tools the agency provides.

Briefly, do your current women’s group and retreat designs incorporate Woman Within concepts?

In some respects. Since the women in my circles here have not been to the retreat, we are not an official E Circle and there isn’t the essential foundation for some of the experiences that E Circles can engage in. But I do draw on my experiences in my own circles to open and close our group, and I personally try to use their tools as much as I can to guide the conversation throughout.

What is the status of the local network that is forming of women’s circles?

We are assessing interest, gathering women, and figuring out how a network might come together. It is nascent, but clearly desired. We have a lot of resources for any woman who wants to start a circle and can direct our list of interested women to anyone who wants to step up and coordinate, with guidance we’d be happy to provide. So collecting women and responding to what arises is our current strategy.

The next, closest to Ann Arbor retreat is in Mt. St. Francis, Indiana, August 10–August 12, 2018. Registration is $725. More information can be found on the womanwithin.org calendar.

Posted on April 30, 2018 .

Great Tastes in Local Food


By Crysta Coburn

Tasty Bakery

One morning, while running a tad late for work, I decided to cut through the Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market in hopes of snagging a quick breakfast. Tasty Bakery to the rescue! 

A chocolate-dipped donut might not sound like the healthiest choice to jump-start the day, but this donut was “wheat free, gluten free, soy free, organic” and “naturally sweetened.” It was also deeply satisfying for both my sweet tooth and my tummy. A lot of donuts are still full of the oil they were cooked in, leaving grease stains behind on napkins and not always settling well in my stomach. After indulging in this Tasty Bakery delectable, I felt great!

I’m not gluten intolerant, so I don’t have to “settle” for gluten-free “facsimiles of real food,” as I have sometimes heard gluten-free breads and baked goods referred to. Let’s get one thing straight right now: you are not “settling” at Tasty Bakery. Their products are just as flavorful as gluten-filled baked goods, and, as I said before, sometimes even more satisfying. I could have eaten three donuts and still felt fine! (Probably. I haven’t tried this. Yet.)

Naturally, when faced with a table full of sweets on an empty stomach, I couldn’t leave with just one thing, so I also grabbed a gluten-free chocolate chip cookie. I could have gone with a cookie that was also vegan, but I decided to go the non-vegan route because I was curious to see how just the gluten-free cookie stacked up against its traditional counterpart. Conclusion: they stand toe-to-toe. I loved it! I’d like to try the vegan next.

On another occasion, while getting a coffee from Sweetwaters in downtown Ann Arbor, I also grabbed a Tasty Bakery Berry Bar, made with “organic gluten-free oats, organic blueberries, organic coconut oil, organic coconut nectar, arrowroot flour, organic Madagascar vanilla, sea salt.” The packaging was also compostable, so you can see not only is Tasty Bakery dedicated to making gluten-free delicious and accessible, but they are also committed to better health for us and our environment.
I’ve made gluten-free baked goods before (check my blog foodandword.blogspot.com for that time I famously attempted gluten-free paczki), so I know it can be a tricky business to get the balance right. There are a lot of traditional wheat flour substitutes out there. Arrowroot flour is popular, as is featured in Tasty Bakery’s Berry Bar. They clearly have gluten-free baking down to an art, and Ann Arbor knows it. You can find their products in coffee shops all over town (check their website for a full list). Don’t be afraid to try them! Your mouth (and tummy) will love you for it.

Tasty Bakery’s storefront is located at 416 West Huron Street, Suite 24, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48103. It is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Find them on Saturdays at the Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market in Kerrytown from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and online at www.tastysansgluten.com.

Big City Small World Bakery

If there is a quintessentially Michigan food, it is the pasty. Usually, this is a delight attributed to the U.P. or at least the northern region of the Mitten. But on the corner of Spring and Miller streets in Ann Arbor at Big City Small World Bakery, pasties are on the menu and they are served up flaky and hot. 

I had dropped by for a quick lunch before work, but I was thinking I’d get a simple sandwich and soy latte, not a pasty and a latte made with coconut milk. I’ve never seen coconut milk as a milk substitute on a menu before, so I had to give it a try. Since switching to dairy-free coffee drinks — a hard transition for me — I have often been disappointed. Soy is okay and almond is great with chai. But now? In the Milk Substitute Competition, I give the blue ribbon to Coconut. Thank you, Big City Small World, for giving me the most delicious faux latte I have had yet!

As for the pasty, I ordered chicken, but they also offer veggie, which I intend to try on another trip, and the gravy is homemade and quite flavorful. The sandwich choices also include veggie, as well as turkey and egg salad, all on homemade bread (which they also sell in loaves). In fact, all of their baked goods are homemade.

I’ve been a fan of Big City Small World’s infamous vegan ding dongs for quite some time. (It’s an absolute mystery to me how they’ve managed to make vegan pastries so creamy and moist. It’s wonderful.) I find Big City Small World to be a great place to find vegan goodies like this.
 For those who aren’t fans of chocolate layer cake with vanilla frosting dipped in chocolate, I recommend the eclairs. The custard is rich and delicious! (Though this one is probably not vegan, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they had a vegan option.) For coconut lovers, try the golf ball-sized macaroons. They offer a range of gluten-free items as well. 

The “world” isn’t the only thing that is “small” here. The bakery is quaint with a few options for indoor seating. If the weather is pleasant, there is ample outdoor seating, where you can admire the eclectic art that covers the side of the brightly painted yellow building, or cast nervous glances at the unexpected wire mermaid sitting on the bench. After the bakery is closed, I like to think of her as a gargoyle-like guardian for nighttime pedestrians. During the day, she’s just another friendly face inviting me in for a ding dong and a coconut milk latte. 

Big City Small World Bakery is located at 500 Miller Ave., Ann Arbor, Michigan 48103. They are open Tuesday through Friday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can also find them on Facebook.

Encuentro Latino Restaurant

If you are familiar with downtown Ypsilanti, you may recall the Wolverine Grill. Well, the Wolverine is no longer there (moment of silence), but its location has been passed into obviously capable hands, and the new restaurant, Encuentro Latino, is serving up some seriously satisfying authentic Guatemalan cuisine.

The interior of Encuentro is still largely set up the way Wolverine was, with a line of booths down one side of the long and narrow space and a counter with stools lining the opposite wall, offering a cozy diner feel. (They also have diner prices!)

I started off my dining experience with an iced horchata. Whenever I order horchata from a new restaurant, I try not to get my hopes too high. There are countless recipes for horchata across the Spanish-speaking world. (For example, Mexican and Guatemalan horchata is typically rice-based, while in Spain tiger nuts are used, and Puerto Rico favors ground sesame seeds.) Some that I have tried are disappointingly watery and lack flavor. However, Encuentro’s horchata did not disappoint, with just the right amount of sweetness and spice.
I also tried the crispy chicken tacos from the appetizers list — “served with cabbage salad, tomato sauce and cheese.” Why has no one ever told me how perfectly shredded cabbage pairs with mayonnaise? It’s like they were made for each other! And the tomato sauce is to die for. A large part of why I ended up choosing the tortillas de harina for my entree is because it also features mayonnaise and tomato sauce. (Also yummy beef and scallions.)

Speaking of tortillas, Guatemalan tortillas are a little different than the ones you’re probably used to from Mexican restaurants. They are puffier, measuring about a quarter or a half-inch thick, reminiscent of pita bread, warm and wonderful. You can really sink your teeth in, especially if you opt for one of the pupusas (stuffed tortillas) on the menu. There are pupusas de chicharron with pork, as well as vegetarian pupusas de frijol.

Tragically, I did not try the desserts, though both the creme brulee (my favorite dessert) and tres leches were definitely calling my name. Since Encuentro is within walking distance of my home, I know I will return. My mouth is also watering for their breakfast menu and its promise of fried plantains! Hasta pronto, Encuentro.

Encuentro Latino Restaurant is located at 228 West Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti, Michigan 48197. Find them online at www.facebook.com/Encuentro-Latino-restaurant-106983366342816/. They are open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.

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