Simple Pleasures and Northwoods Treasures

Last spring I was sitting at Bem General, talking with a friend about how I would love to start hosting live music events at the General. Then, a couple weeks later Sonja Bjordal of Feeding LeRoy contacted me, told me she was booking a southern tour the following winter and asked if they could stop off at Bem General and play a night. I was and still am beyond excited. Sonja was here for a farmstay when we first opened Bem General. We sat in the space and talked and dreamed and envisioned all that could be. So, on February 10th at 6:30pm, dreams are coming true. It's going to be a magical night that I am so very grateful to share with you all.
I first met Sonja and Lee in Duluth, MN when my sister was living there. My brother, husband, daughter and I went north for a winter visit. The first time I heard them play together was around our dining room table. It was love at first tune. I was in a room full of people I loved, music and laughter filled the air, I'll never forget it, I was hooked.
In the years following we went back up north for winter ski weekends when Sonja and Lee were playing at the lodge where we stayed. We played in the snow, soaked in the hot tub, skied the trails, toasted in the sauna, plunged through the polar ice on the lake, and ran around in our swimsuits and muks between cabins and tall tall trees; it was like summer camp for big kids in the winter.
Every time we came home from these trips, I dreamt about creating a place like that here. A place filled with simple pleasures, good times, great friends, where we're all young at heart. This February, I feel as though we have a bit of the Northwoods coming to us and I can't wait to share the music of my favorite northern songbirds with you. So come on out and play!


Sisters with a Story

If you have followed along with me here for a while, you may have noticed that I love good food and the health and joy it brings us. My passion for living a good life, full of health and wealth, connected with my community, my family, my animals is what drives me. I am grateful for a life filled with people and work that I love. I am also grateful for the opportunities to learn and grow in health and wholeness. In each challenge, frustration, or heartbreak, I have experienced growth and insight and change. Rarely are these things easy, yet I am grateful. Don't get me wrong, it is not the challenge or hurt these things may bring that I am grateful for, but for the love and compassion with which they can be met I am very grateful.

Love and compassion that grows with every step, for myself, family, community, life.

I've seen a meme going around lately (probably on Facebook) that says "Grow what you have." What a great reminder to be present in the blessings around you and in you, yes seek growth but not necessarily elsewhere or in something new. Foster growth in what you have, make flourish what you have already planted, go deeper not necessarily further.
So, as for my sister and I who share work (and most other things, sometimes willingly), we have begun to share our stories. These are our stories of transformation.

From Amy:
This time last year I was calling Washington University Infertility and Reproductive Medicine Center to cancel an appointment I had made in the middle of December. We had dreams of having our own children, like many, but started behind in the game. My husband, having had children already, was infertile when I met him. We incurred a large cost for the reversal in hopes that would be the only obstacle to overcome. We were wrong. And thank goodness we were, because it gave us a tremendous opportunity to take a good look at ourselves and our health. People may often only think of women's health for reproduction and hormonal balance, but men's health and hormonal balance is just as important. After a year and half of building in nutrition through whole foods and supplementation, bodywork and self-care we were able to give our baby girl the best possible foundation for health. Living our happiest healthiest lives yet!!

From April:
Sometimes it's hard to even remember how bad I used to feel, until I begin to write down symptoms that I experienced on a daily basis. There was about an 18 month span where I was in and out of Drs. offices, underwent blood tests, MRIs, scans, surgeries, was on prescription antidepressants, pain relievers, and convinced I was suffering a major chronic debilitating disease like MS.
What I know now is that I was suffering a major gut imbalance and candida overgrowth. Issues such as these can be triggered from antibiotic use, chronic and acute stress, acquired food sensitivities, toxin overload, and just plain overworking ourselves and our bodies. Today I begin airing my laundry list of health issues that no longer challenge me or minimally challenge me since I have begun to restore balance in my gut through probiotic use and avoiding simple sugars.
-joint pain
-interrupted sleep (like eyeballs peeled wide awake at 3am)
-eczema, rashes/hives
-dry flaky scalp and skin
-tired (sick and tired of being sick and tired)
-irritability, anxiety, depression, panic attacks
-bloating, alternating diarrhea and constipation
-chronic sinus/allergy infections
-autoimmunity lupus/shingles
-nerve pain shooting/tingling/numbness
-headaches, migraines
-PMS, missed periods, excessive bleeding, hair loss, infertility
The top 3 things that have helped me regain my health:
1. Restore Balance of gut flora with probiotics and fermented foods
2. Heal gut lining with anti-inflammatory and collagen rich supplements and 
whole food.
3. Reduce cravings and simple sugar intake with whole food and natural 
supplement substitutions.
I don't really want to call these "before and after" photos. I'm still moving through this health journey. I am, in so many ways, a different person than that girl on the lower left. I barely recognize her, and could easily convince myself she never existed (if it wasn't for this old facebook photo.) Instead, I honor and acknowledge what I have learned along the way, and am grateful for who I am now. Stronger, deeper, happier, healthier, bolder, braver.


Bone Broth Heals

If you follow us on Facebook , you may have already seen the videos we posted this week on making your own bone broth. As part of our holistic health services at Bem General, we highly recommend incorporating bone broth into our everyday diet. Bone broth is integral in the healing process as it contains basic nutritional support for nearly every system in our bodies. We can take in many of the nutrients found in bone broth from various sources, but none is as easily digested as broth. 

“It’s been known through history and across cultures that broth settles your stomach and also your nerves,” said Sally Fallon Morell, an author of the new book “Nourishing Broth.” “When a recipe has that much tradition behind it, I believe the science is there too.” -Bones, Broth, Bliss

As we begin another new year, many of us renew our vows for a healthier year than last and set our intentions to achieve these goals. Incorporating bone broth into our daily lives is one routine that can improve our well being inexpensively and simply. There's comfort in the tradition and ease in the preparation.
Bone broth is rich in trace minerals, collagen, gelatin, and protein amino acids. It has been implicated in healing digestive issues, inflammatory diseases, joint pain, skin issues, and much more. Several of the essential trace minerals are found to be deficient in people with chronic diseases such as osteoporosis, hypothyroidism, diabetes, immune disorders, anemia, nerve disorders, dermatitis, asthma, and seizure disorders.
These minerals play an important role in antioxidant function, metabolism, bone development, and wound healing. Collagen and gelatin are also important building blocks in joint repair and healing of the gut mucosa.
A Nutritional Snapshot looks something like this: 
Bone Broth Nutrition Overview- 8oz. serving
32% DV recommended Daily Value Protein and Amino Acids
27% DV Vitamin C
31% DV Vitamin B6
13% DV Iron
43% DV Manganese
10% DV Selenium

Today is the day to start your healing journey! Watch the first of our Restore Balance video series >>>here<<< contact us via bemgeneral.com to order grass fed, pasture raised bones from our Bem General CSA farmers.

sources: nutritiondata.self.com, whfoods.com, Ipi.oregonstate.edu, nytimes.com


A Little Christmas Magic Everyday

I have become an early riser. I like to credit my daughter with converting me as she was born an early riser. Converting her to a late riser was just never going to be and I conceded. After nearly seven years, I am grateful. The early morning has become one of my favorite times of day. I now often wake before her, gasp! It's my fresh start time, deep breath time, thinking and being time, dreaming and planning time. Most of all I'm grateful that it is my time without distraction. There seems to be greater access to peace in the early morning hours.  I don't know if it's the quiet and calm of the house, because I have a similar feeling about the evening just before bed. 

I do believe there's magic in the hours just before sunrise and after sunset, a special kind of stop and take a moment to breathe all that is life in, keep what serves your purpose and let go of the rest. I don't know if it's the magic of the little everyday transformation of light into dark, dark into light or, the routine of it all. 

Routine seems a strange place to find magic, (and by magic I mean a spark, a glint, a moment that moves you) however; it happens there with ease even. Words I never thought I would use to describe myself-early riser and lover of routine- I almost can't even type them, HA I'm still in shock myself. As I move through life I find that the spark of creativity comes just as often from something I do routinely as from something novel. Thus, I have grown to love routine...

During the holiday season, my everyday good life moment comes without fail at the end of the day just before I walk out the door. I have a routine every morning when I walk into BEM GENERAL, I turn the lights on in the kitchen and spa rooms, turn up the heat, turn the display shelf lights on, hang my bag and keys (this is a really dangerous step to skip, if you've ever helped me search for my keys, you know what I'm talking about), turn the store lights on, start the music, stir the coals and put a log on the fire, make coffee or tea, then get to work. With every switch I turn, I smile and am grateful. In the evening, it's the same routine in reverse. After Thanksgiving when the Christmas candles fill the windows with light, this is my favorite moment. Everything is quiet, the soft warm glow of (electric) candles illuminate the worn wood floors, the scent of soap, soaks and other essential oil concoctions and wood smoke linger in the air, I breathe it in and in that moment all is well, I feel only love.
My Christmas wish is that we all have these moments in our everyday, that we each have more of this magic and warmth and love than all else.


Everyday Good Life

Time and again it's the simplest things that fill my heart with gratitude.

As I was walking downstairs this morning in our warm house, I had an overwhelming sense of gratitude. We had propane delivered yesterday and stacked another load of wood at the store. Last winter was such a difficult winter filled with bitter cold and loss. I'm grateful this morning for the warmth that was hard to find last year, and the peace a full tank of gas brings.

I'm grateful to be back in the full swing of making and selling our goods at the General store. Last night when my husband and I were unloading firewood onto the porch our daughter jumped onto the bed of the truck, still in her pink tutu from dance class, and started chucking wood from the middle to the sides where we could reach it. We could hardly keep up with her little almost-7-year-old hands. My heart was full, overflowing as we worked together.

These are the moments that inspire me to take photos, write, create. They are the simplest things and the grandest pleasures, they are the everyday.

This is an everyday good life.


Start Seeing

The day after the Journey for Justice marchers passed through our neighboring towns and I had heard some reports of what had taken place, I dropped my daughter off to catch the bus at my parents’ farm like we always do. I then sat in my truck with my mom and shared with her some of the documented scenes from the march through Gerald and Rosebud. I broke into tears as I described what I had seen, in some instances I had a hard time forming the words to describe what had been done. 

I wept.

I wept for the display of ugliness and hatred and bullying that erupted in my favorite little town. I wept for the cycle of fear and ignorance that was fueled that day. I wept for the fact that I love Rosebud and now every time I hear the town’s name, my stomach turns and I feel sick. I wept for the feeling that I don’t immediately know where we go from here, or where this event leaves us as a community. I know I don’t understand it. I don’t understand who those people even were.  I know that every time I sit down and try to put into words these feelings, I struggle. I look around and everything looks the same, but it doesn’t feel quite right.

I also know that we as a culture and society spend so much energy on classifying ourselves, we don’t see ourselves. Quit spending so much time looking for differences and similarities, and see the souls among us. See that we are all one humanity shaped by our stories and our experiences, but defined only by our existence. The greatest, the only true existence is love. We were created in love and that is the one true light that shines within us all. Start honoring it. Stop protecting it from others, stop keeping track of what others do with theirs, stop worrying, stop fearing, stop reacting. Start seeing.


Breakfast Kefir

One of my favorite ways to have kefir daily is for breakfast. Kefir can be a pretty complete meal on its own, and a tasty way to incorporate some probiotic whole food at breakfast time.
You can make this coffee kefir drink straight in a glass skipping the blender clean up. Adding gelatin completes this on-the-go meal with essential amino acids, protein, and gut healing collagen.
Amino acids, protein, and probiotics, it doesn't get any better. Wait, we're adding chocolate and coffee too!

You'll need:
pint size glass
1/2 c. brewed coffee (Three Story Coffee available from Bem General is top notch)
1 1/2 c. kefir
1 t. powdered gelatin (great lakes brand from grass-fed animals is best)
1 t. cocoa powder
sprinkle of cinnamon
sprinkle of himalayan or other mineral rich sea salt

Add 1/2 c. kefir to glass and sprinkle gelatin on top, let dissolve completely (couple minutes)
Add cocoa.
Add hot coffee, stir.
Add remainder of kefir, stir.
Sprinkle with cinnamon and salt.