JoAnn Jordan, Blogger of the Month for September 2014
Hopefully you have had the opportunity to hear a “back in my day” story from a grandparent or a parent. While some likely made you roll your eyes (I walked 3 miles uphill to school) others likely made you smile (Did I ever tell you about how I used to sneak out of the house as a teen?).

When properly framed, stories from the past can, in the words of Albert Einstein, allow us to: “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.”

My name is JoAnn Jordan. It is my privilege to be the September 2014 BOTM with a focus on “Back in My Day.” This focus fits me in three ways:

  1. I’m a boomer. So, I have lots of “back in my day” stories to share.
  2. I am a music therapist working in senior living communities. I am privileged to hear a lot of “back in my day” stories and songs.
  3. I have a passion for intergenerational music groups. Connecting the past with the future is powerful stuff.

In a lot of ways, my blog, Music Sparks, had its beginnings as a “back in my day” story. Beginning in 2009 it was a way to house and to share my now 30+ years of music therapy session plans for preschoolers, older adults and intergenerational groups. Over time, it has expanded to include ideas people can use in their homes and with their families.

Here’s a little about my yesterday and today.

Growing up, my parents surrounded our family in music and in faith.  Family sing-alongs were the norm, especially in the car.  There was rarely a point of quiet in the house with all of us practicing and just being normal, noisy kids. As my father was a Lutheran pastor, I grew up thinking of church as “home” as we moved from parish to parish.

Moving and meeting people has continued as a way of life. My husband and I have moved back and forth several times between the Midwest and Florida. We’ve been blessed to call Hays, Kansas, home for over 12 years – the longest I’ve lived in one community.

Moving has allowed me to have friends across the U.S. Music has been the connective tissue of many of those relationships.

The Internet has allowed me to more easily remain in contact with friends while making many more connections — among them Kansas Women Bloggers. 

I look forward to this month of sharing the past with you. You will be introduced to some music ideas to try. With a little luck, they will assist us as we strive to live for today and hope for the future.

If you want to know more about me, feel free to connect with me on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook.

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By Erin O’Donnell, Editor, Kansas Women Bloggers

Good Food Matters. We read the labels so you don't have to.When we launched Kansas Women Bloggers more than a year ago with the tagline “Gather, Grow, Connect,” we had big dreams for realizing the “connect” part. We want to connect bloggers with each other. And we want to connect our members with opportunities to help them do the second thing: grow.

This week, we entered into a new phase that helps us do both.

Kansas Women Bloggers is proud to announce a new partnership with Whole Foods Market Wichita, which opens Sept. 3. Several of our members have accepted invitations to become blog ambassadors for this international brand, which gives them exclusive access to products and recipe ideas to make their own. We will also feature Whole Foods-flavored posts here on the blog.

KSWB at Whole Foods From left to right, KSWB members Carolyn Erickson, Cat Poland, Dana Elmore, and Naomi Shapiro with blogger Paige Alexander listen to Whole Foods reps talk about the store’s offerings. See that little silver dish he’s holding? Inside was the most heavenly batch of cocoa-dusted almonds.

 

This week, our team of ambassadors was the first group to get a behind-the-scenes tour of the store. And let me tell you, it’s foodie heaven, from the bulk spices to the house-made sushi.

If you’re not familiar with the Whole Foods way, here’s the dish. Their mission is to provide fresh food with nothing artificial added, with a focus on food that’s grown and harvested sustainably. There’s a list of more than six dozen ingredients that aren’t allowed in the products they carry.

Here, Shelbi Gustafson of Everyday Mrs and Paige Alexander of Food Fitness by Paige try out some of the natural bulk candies.

Sampling Whole Foods bulk items

People in south-central Kansas have been buzzing about the store’s approaching opening for months. I think it has boosted our community’s ego to have landed a national brand with an upscale image, and a progressive attitude toward food. The store’s presence gives us a sense of validation that Kansans have good taste, too, which we always knew.

But we’re still our practical Midwestern selves. In recognition of that, our gracious hosts from the Whole Foods regional office in Colorado and from the store’s own staff pointed out lots of ways shoppers can make healthier choices and still save money. The 365 Everyday Value brand is an easy way to find affordable natural or organic items in every department, even pet food and personal care. Check it out for yourself next weekend, Sept. 6-7, when everything in the 365 line will be 20 percent off at the Wichita store.

Whole Foods 365 coconut water

Of course it’s more fun to splurge when you can. Prime cuts of grass-fed beef, fresh seafood flown in six times a week, organic produce that never comes into contact with conventional foods, and artisan breads and cheeses are just the tip of the iceberg.

The prepared foods area really got my mouth watering, too, with an in-house meat smoker and pizza oven (there’s another smoker in the meat department, where they’ll also make their own bacon and sausage). They will have amazing grab-and-go items from the hot bar and made-to-order sandwiches with lots of locally grown ingredients. Plus, the aforementioned sushi. The Whole Foods sushi chef prepped four varieties for us to sample. I have maintained for YEARS that I don’t like sushi, but I went back for seconds of this. NOM.

Sushi chef and samples at Whole Foods

 

Speaking of local, the thing I’ve come to love about Whole Foods is the way they promote local and regional farms and other producers. Eating local is more than a fad — it helps our economy, it helps our environment, and it helps you enjoy your food because it tastes better when it didn’t have to travel hundreds of miles to get on your table. We’ll be able to get grass-fed beef from cattle that have been raised on Kansas ranges, like Schenker Family Farms in southeast Kansas. Whole Foods will also carry homegrown brands like Reverie Roasters coffee from Wichita, cheese from Jason Wiebe Dairy in Durham, and Chicken Poop Lip Junk.

Whole Foods signage

Something else you’ll notice about Wichita’s story is how much it reflects our city and state’s personality. The company works hard to give each store a unique design that plays up the community’s identity. In Wichita’s case, they chose sunflowers and airplanes. It’s fun to spot all the creative ways they have incorporated our heritage into the decor, like these pendant lights made from old airplane parts:

Light fixtures made of airplane parts at Whole Foods

And this counter next to the coffee and juice bar. That’s a real, repurposed airplane wing inside the clear shelf. (Some inspiration for you DIY bloggers!)

airplane wing counter at Whole Foods Wichita

It’s been a real pleasure to get to know some of the team behind this store’s opening, and we’ve been honored by their interest in working with us to promote clean eating, money-saving tips, and family-friendly recipes among our followers. We’re so pleased that they recognize the value bloggers bring to the conversation, and how we can be an integral part of a brand’s marketing strategy.

Each month, Whole Foods ambassador bloggers will get an email detailing the theme of the month with highlighted foods and recipe or serving suggestions, along with info about store events and sales. They will also get gift cards to give away on their blogs.

We can’t wait to see what our talented members will create as a result. You can follow along with the hashtag #WholeFoodsWichita, and please also follow the Wichita store on Twitter at @WFMWichita, find them on Facebook, or find the store closest to you.

We strongly believe this is just the first of many high-profile sponsorship and ambassador opportunities for the active, engaged members of Kansas Women Bloggers. Your blog is your voice and your power — don’t underestimate them! We appreciate all of you who participate in our conversations and who graciously share advice with one another. That’s what connections and community are all about.

Now, here’s our gift to you: a recipe from the Whole Foods kitchen featuring dates from their bulk dried fruit.

Quick Creamy Breakfast Smoothie

Yogurt with live cultures and natural peanut butter form the protein base of this creamy breakfast smoothie. Sweetened with dates and gently spiced with cardamom, we’ve also added flax seed oil for the benefit of omega-3 fatty acids.

Ingredients:

2 cups lowfat 2% milk
6 oz plain nonfat yogurt
2 Tbsp natural peanut butter
6 dates, pitted and chopped
1 Tbsp rose flower water (optional)
2 tsp flax seed oil
1/4 tsp ground cardamom

Method:

Place all ingredients in a blender an dpuree until completely blended. If there are small pieces of dates, they are delicious and can be a wonderful treat at the bottom of the glass.

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Sunday Linkup {August 24, 2014}

August 24, 2014

Welcome to the Sunday Link-Up! This is the place for our members to post their best work of the week. Remember to visit & comment on your KSWB sisters’ blogs and leave a comment to let them know you found them on KSWB! To add your post, use the “Click here to enter” link below. […]

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Sunday Link-Up {August 17, 2014}

August 17, 2014

Welcome to the Sunday Link-Up! This is the place for our members to post their best work of the week. Remember to visit & comment on your KSWB sisters’ blogs and leave a comment to let them know you found them on KSWB! To add your post, use the “Click here to enter” link below. […]

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Sunday Link-Up {August 10, 2014}

August 10, 2014

Welcome to the Sunday Link-Up! This is the place for our members to post their best work of the week. Remember to visit & comment on your KSWB sisters’ blogs and leave a comment to let them know you found them on KSWB! To add your post, use the “Click here to enter” link below. […]

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Sunday Link-Up {August 3, 2014}

August 3, 2014

Welcome to the Sunday Link-Up! This is the place for our members to post their best work of the week. Remember to visit & comment on your KSWB sisters’ blogs and leave a comment to let them know you found them on KSWB! To add your post, use the “Click here to enter” link below. […]

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HOT, HOT, HOT Summer Fashion Trends

July 28, 2014
Orange Dress

By Shelbi Gustafson, Blogger of the Month for July Happy Monday! It’s Shelbi from Everyday Mrs back again for my last HOT, HOT, HOT post of the month! If you missed the first three check them out here, here and here! Today I want to tell you about three of the summer fashion trends I’m […]

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Sunday Link-Up {July 27, 2014}

July 27, 2014
Thumbnail image for Sunday Link-Up {July 27, 2014}

Welcome to the Sunday Link-Up! This is the place for our members to post their best work of the week. Remember to visit & comment on your KSWB sisters’ blogs and leave a comment to let them know you found them on KSWB! To add your post, use the “Click here to enter” link below. […]

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HOT, HOT, HOT Summer Activities

July 21, 2014
Blueberry Farm

By Shelbi Gustafson, Blogger of the Month for July That July summer heat is definitely upon us, but don’t worry — there’s still time to enjoy the summer before it’s over! Today I’m going to tell you about two of my favorite summer activities that are in the Wichita (and surrounding) area. If you’ve visited […]

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Strawberry Sparkle Cake {Foodie Friday}

July 18, 2014
Strawberry Sparkle Cake

By Ashleigh Hett of Prairie Gal Cookin This cake turned out to be delish! It does take a little while to make, but with a little planning, it can be a snap and would make a great addition to any table. The “surprise” part of this cake comes when you cut into it and find […]

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