Temps are dropping and my favorite way to keep warm is with a delicious bowl of soup! This year I've been creating my own simple broth that I think you'll LOVE! It's simple... fresh Lemon Grass! Lets get started with a list of ingredients and seasonings!
Seasonings & Herbs
When finished prepping the soup I like to top it with Grated Parmesan. Some times a squeeze of lemon juice. I also like a little crunch while eating soup. You can add Croutons, Tortilla Chips, Crackers, Bread, whatever works for you!
Begin your soup by selecting your ingredients. Get creative - you can literally add anything! Yum! Once all your produce is washed sort it by how long it takes to cook. You’ll want to cut the veggies that take longer to cook first! Don't forget to wash your veggies! You never know where they've been before you purchased them.
Before you cut any veggies, take your lemon grass and break it into bits. This releases the flavor. Fill a small pot with the lemon grass bits and water. Put in stove with low heat. Make sure to cover. This is going to be your soup base.
Start with onion. Dice your onions then put them in your soup pot with olive oil. Turn heat on low and cover. (We are going to season as we cut up other veggies.) Keep an eye on your lemon grass broth. If it starts to boil, turn the heat OFF. You don't want the freshness of your lemon grass flavor to cook out. Keep covered.
Next cut up your celery, add to your pot, sprinkle in salt, stir then cover again. Move onto cut up your carrots. You can get shredded carrots or shred your carrots if you prefer. Add to carrots your soup mixture with a dash of rosemary, stir them cover again. Now it's time to cut up your green beans. Add to your pot with Cumin, stir and cover. If you’re adding potato, cabbage, or broccoli/broccolini, this is the time to cut those up and add them into the mix. Stir. Keep heat LOW and pot covered.
If you’re adding orzo 0r lentils - add them now. Turn heat off your lemon grass broth if you have not already. Next you’ll cut up your shiitake mushrooms and peppers. You can use any kind of peppers. You could even use a variety of peppers if you like. I usually go for cubanelle or poblano. For this example I used one yellow pepper. Once mushrooms and peppers are cut up add them to your soup pot, stir and cover.
Time for garlic. I used 4 cloves. You can use a shredder or cut up with a knife. Don’t forget to smash the garlic cloves to release the flavor! Add garlic to your veggie mix, stir, and cover. Time to add lemon zest. Zest a lemon directly into your mix, stir then cover. Now it’s time to add your lemon grass broth to your veggies! If you want more broth refill the pot with water and add heat again. Once boiling you can then turn heat off and add the second pot of lemon grass broth to your soup! If your adding meat now is the time to prepare that! Once it’s all cooked up, mix into your soup! Wah lah!
Serve! Add crackers or croutons or cheese! Have fun and enjoy!
Before my mother founded this coalition it was hard for people to grasp the concept that human trafficking is not some foreign issue. That it REALLY happens right here, in the USA. In small towns. Probably in your town. She spent hours online viewing literal people, children for sale. Being a mother of four, it changed her life. I saw it. She founded this coalition help people get informed. The first step is believing this horrible reality exists. People are living through it right now. First thing YOU can do to help fight against human trafficking is to get informed. Believe the people who have survived it. Support the people who are taking action.
What can I do to Raise Awareness about trafficking? One of the most impactful experiences I’ve had is listening to others speak about it. Be it my mother from her experience with the coalition over the years or Leslie F. King, a Survivor Leader & Author, about her very real and very intense experience being trafficked. I’ve heard Leslie speak twice and both times she shifted my perspective with her powerful message. If you want to raise awareness on the topic of trafficking you can request a speaker from the Kalamazoo Area Anti Human Trafficking Coalition to present to your office, friends, or community.
In March this year Leslie F King had a book signing with KAAHTC. I’ve been reading her book ‘When Angels Fight Back’ which is her story about escaping trafficking and ‘leading a revolt against the darkness’. Her story is not fiction - it’s very much a reality for some and her experiences are not foreign. What happened was right here in the state of Michigan. Trafficking is happening al around us. Are you brave enough to face the issue?
I’ll never forget spending time with my mother in Lansing. The power of being present and advocating for others. We were in the capital building speaking to real people about the coalition to help make change. Days like today, where we are voting fir elected officials, are when advocacy matters most. Send letters to your elected officials. Find out what your state, city, or county are doing about human trafficking in your area.
If you have the time and ability - volunteer! Not in the Kalamazoo area? You can find your local non-profit organizations that assist with any one of these ways to fight human trafficking. There is so much that can be done to help with the cause.
Whew! Time does not wait for anyone!!! It's just flying on by. Turns out I did not finish my reading list. In fact I only read ONE book in completion. Summer reading fail aside, there's been a lot going on. When you’re out here on your own making your ambitions come true, no one sees the back breaking work, the endless efforts, or understands how much of your time goes into it. Some do. Very few!! People maybe see the final product in a photo or video form online, possibly in person. Hopefully in person!! It’s wild.
Everything here is hand made. Every component is thoroughly sourced, looking for what I think are the highest quality materials. If I can make it, I will. If I don't know how to, odds are if it's part of my process, I'm going to learn how eventually. At this point in my journey as an artist and small business I’m very proud of what I produce. While I’m not making as much money or custom work as I want right now and I’m not where I thought I’d be at this point in my life… but I am here and VERY grateful. Thanks for any support, kind words, and feed back. Everything helps when you’re in a solution based mindset which is just ONE of the many things this journey has taught me. THAT BEING SAID! Here is an attempt to explain the amount of time & detail that goes into one of my custom works.
The most recent work of wearable art I've had to opportunity to create is a wrap dress for one very special person. I decided to hand sew it using a back stitch with embroidery floss. Using a thick needle and thread is ideal in my opinion. It feels stronger to me. We'll see how the dress fits and wears over time though. It's being shipped out this week and my nerves are eating at me!! The fabric was carefully selected from my favorite local fabric shop Discount Fabric in Clawson. Then screen printed with yellow ink. The screens I had made with my original art work at Ocelot Print Shop in Cass Corridor of Detroit. This screen was originally intended/used to print on recycled paper cards but I later knew they'd make fantastic fabrics or interesting tiled shirts! I decided to use the color yellow on the dress because while designing a couple custom necklaces for the same client, she told me her husband is color blind and can only see yellow. The gray color fabric goes perfect with the yellow floral collage screen print and fits her neutral wardrobe.
After screen printing the fabric I scavenged the internet for interesting wrap dress patterns. There are SO MANY cute designs but ultimately this dress was based on a pattern called ZOE from Dressmaking Amore. I did not buy the pattern but created my own pattern, fit to my clients measurements, from the tutorial video on this website. I really like how minimal the idea is and how simple it would be to add sleeves to the pattern. After deciding on the design I bought patterning paper from JOANN Fabrics, sketched and measured the pieces out and just... went for it. The whole process took about a month. Now that I have one made, I know the time to make it could be cut down significantly. Thinking of making one for myself honestly! Who knows what I'll make next! Would love to make another so please reach out for more details if you're interested.
The most challenging aspect of the process was the edge lining. Some of the folded pieces of fabric I wrapped around the edge of the dress moved. I spent a ton of time ironing them to get a crease but those buggers still moved out of place!!!! A few times this happened and I did not notice while sewing. I then had to go back and comb through every seem to make sure the edges would not come unfolded when wearing, over time, or after washing. I'd be more thorough on my next one as far as pinning these little details to the dresses edge. After a hand wash and drying, the dress is folded into a box and ready to ship!
While in the process of creating this dress it dawned on me that this is how EVERY piece of clothing was made before sewing machines were invented and popularized. This kind of realization makes me feel a deep connection with humanity and history. This is one reason why making things by hand is part of my lifestyle. We have been completely removed from the making process in many ways or people don't have any idea what really goes into the process of making things. People talk about slow fashion, hand sewing your own garments is a whole concept! Not a new one but it does seem kind of novel...
Reading outside, surrounded by plants I've grown from seed, is revitalizing to say the least. I started my reading list with The Secret Life of Plants. A book I found at Book Beat in Oak Park, MI. This text is quite inspiring especially if you have a green thumb. My connection to plants is expanding as I turn every page. I feel like my connection to the plants in my care is in another dimension. It's only be recently that I'm able to sustain plant life but I'm so happy for all the wisdom plants have shown me in such a short time. Plants bring balance to my spirit. Through the years of my childhood my mother and grand mother would garden. In fact my grand mother has such a green thumb, I thought the asset skipped me. But in good time I see that maybe I too, have her life giving abilities. This connection to plants is absolutely attuning me to my feminine nature. It's healing my heart and showing me the miracles of positive speech. It also gives my days more routine.
There is no way I could summarize the information gifted to the plant savvy through the words of this book but I can say that Nature is absolutely intelligent. It is a lot more similar to our human anatomy than we might think and it is imperative we attune ourselves to her subtle wisdom. We need to protect our plant life and we will be rewarded greatly. There are several concepts, people, and books I will be following up with after finishing The Secret Life of Plants. This book is humbling my spirits and maturing my mind in the process.
The next book I've dipped into is The Imperial Guide to Feng Shui & Chinese Astrology which is guiding me through space and time to better understand ancient practices, beliefs, and calendars of ancient Chinese people. I can see how the topics or Five Processes described in this book correlate to agriculture and cultivating life. Not sure where I found this book but I'm so glad it's part of my collection. I'll check back in here when I've read more into this book and finished the first! What are you reading this summer?
About the Author
Megan LaCroix also known as Citrine is the daughter of a Navy Veteran. She’s lived all over the US but has roots in Michigan where her family is from. Spending summers in Northern Michigan exploring nature inspired her to create art work starting with jewelry and photography. She’d spend hours looking for rocks and creating assorted beaded jewelry with her sisters. In 2014 She graduated from University of Michigan School of Art & Design with a BFA then moved to Detroit where she is currently living and working. She is a multi-media artist with ever expanding skills but is best known for her jewelry, screen printing, photography, and paintings. Detroit Graffiti has a significant influence on her painting and drawing style. She’s participated in ArtPrize 2015 & 2021 and currently has a studio in the Village Arts Factory of Canton, MI.