One Love

One Love
"We need to move beyond the idea of 'environment' and fall back in love with Mother Earth." ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Kyya Chocolate

My dear friend Sonia is preparing to be a bride in April! She has been putting together goodie bags, with local products, for guests that are coming in from out of town. When she told me she wanted order Kyya Chocolate bars for everyone, my response was "AWESOME, let's see if we can do a tour!"

Since Kyya Chocolate is a new vendor at the 2015 Bentonville Farmers Market, I had been meaning to get out to their place and check everything out, this granted me the perfect opportunity.

One reason that I fell for Kyya Chocolate is that they produce bean to bar chocolate. They build relationships with farmers across the globe to source cacao beans. Not only does Kyya Chocolate pay the farmers above fair trade prices but they work with the farmers to increase better yields and higher quality cacao.

The first thing that I noticed when I opened the door to Kyya was the smell; the delicious and tempting smell of chocolate. The second thing that I noticed was the bags of cacao beans. Ben, one of the owners, explained that in America we saw cocoa but in the rest of the world they say cacao, pronounced (ka-kow).

Ben explained that at Kyya, they hand grind the beans. They also have a cocoa press so they can manufacture cocoa butter and cocoa powder.  Sonia and I got to taste the cocoa powder and let me say, I can't wait until it is available for purchase. I thought I made some pretty delicious hot chocolate but their cocoa powder isn't even in the same league as my hot chocolate mix.

At  Kyya, they hand mold each bar. Ben explained to us that the chocolate they produce is made out of the same three ingredients but the bars taste differently depending on where the cacao bean was sourced.

After touring the facility, we were ready to taste some chocolate! Since Sonia wanted the Midnight Chocolate, we tasted five different types of Midnight chocolate. Each of the bars had a distinct flavor profile, we tasted a fruity bar with hints of plum, an earthy bar, a bar that was more traditional and several others. The hardest part of the day was deciding what bars Sonia wanted to purchase, she ended up with four different kinds.

 If I had to speculate, I would guess that chocolate is going to be where coffee and beer are now. I have seen the quality and craftsmanship that goes into these bars and I am completely sold. I also see how Kyya is becoming a member of the community and vested in their customers and farmers.

Additionally, 10% of their net profits go to orphan care initiatives around the world. Between the Kyya team, they have 6 adopted children and they believe that they need to be a part of orphan care.

If you haven't experienced the various rich flavors of a Kyya Chocolate bar, I encourage you to pick one up, your taste buds will forever be changed! They are also hosting an Open House on, Saturday, February 21st from 10:00am to 3:00pm. The event is free and not much is better then free chocolate. Find out more details at their Facebook event page.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Waterfall Hunting

I am a big believer in ebb and flow. A time to rest and a time to be active; a time to be happy and a time to be sad. Never judging, just observing. I have observed that in January, I want it to be cold so I can rest and be lazy. However, with this great weather, being lazy is just not an option for me. Mark and I decided to go waterfall hunting using Tim Ernst's Arkansas Waterfalls book.

On Saturday, we visited three falls, Bear Skull Falls, Slot Rock and Discovery Falls. Conveniently all of these falls are located on the same portion of the Ozark Highlands Trail (OHT). You do have to bushwhack to Discovery Falls. There are actually four falls on this section of the trail, we tried to visit Sunset Falls but took a wrong turn. It was getting a little late and we still needed to set up camp.

I just love Tim Ernst and his style of writing is hysterical, a dry humor that reminds me of my dad. The photos in the book are awesome and Tim is in most of them. Mark and I joked that it would be funny to take pictures replicating Tim's. The above photo is my super amateur copycat shot of Bear Skull Falls. I will note that we had some trouble finding this portion of the OHT; however, you know you are on the OHT because the trail is marked with white markers.

If you want to waterfall hunt or just hike, I highly recommend Tim's book. He has ratings of the falls, the height, how many miles to get to the fall, if you need a GPS or not, the latitude and longitude and how hard of a hike or bushwhack it is. The fall pictured above is Pam's Grotto and named after his wife. Tim was instrumental in building the OHT and helped to build this portion of the trail.

Although the book says it is a medium hike/bushwhack the Pam's Grotto was actually pretty crowded. There were some pretty serious photographers so I just tried to stay out of their way. You can actually see the leg of a tripod in the left hand side of the above photo. I hope someday that a beginner photographer sees me and thinks of me a "serious photographer."

On a side note, Mark and I got to meet Tim at John Brown University (my Alma mater), in Siloam Springs, when he was presenting his Arkansas Nightscapes slide program. He is more awesome and humble then I can express here. His advice to beginning photographers is you just have to be there and keep taking photos.

Since Pam's Grotto was only a mile long hike, we decided to get in the truck and drive to another trail head. We went to Hobo Falls East and West. This was a super fun hike with some awesome camping spots. The above photo is Hobo Falls East.

Unfortunately, Hobo Falls West had a lot of brush, but it was beautiful nonetheless. Tim wrote "Be sure to save some energy for the climb out" and he was NOT kidding. It is a three mile round trip, which doesn't seem bad, but it is uphill the whole way back. Let's just say that the Shepherd beat all of us to the truck..

If you live in Arkansas and haven't taken advantage of exploring the Natural State you are really missing out. You don't have to spend money, have fancy hiking boots or a GPS, just the spirit to adventure. Hope to see you on the trail!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Shake the Hand that Feeds You

After spending a beautiful weekend in the Ozark National Forest, (another blog post on that later) we arrived home in time to unpack from the weekend, take a much needed shower and get really hungry! Mark is a great outdoor cook; however, after starting a fire, cooking and cleaning, nothing sounded better then a locally sourced meal that we didn't have to prepare. Fortunately, I made reservations at The Farmers Table Cafe for the first Shake the Hand that Feeds You dinner.

I keep several restaurants on rotation and The Farmers Table Cafe is one of them. Earlier in January, I met up with the Fayetteville Farmers Market Manager to plan a Farmers Market Training Workshop. When two market managers meet and eat, you know the place is good.

The Shake the Hand that Feeds You series is a prix fixe dinner, exceptionally priced at $20/person. The January dinner included an appetizer - flat bread with arugula, micro greens and feta; the entree was cabbage rolls (mine was vegetarian with Sweden Creek Farm shiitake mushrooms), honey ginger glazed carrots and roasted potatoes; to finish we were served the best apple cobbler. At least I think it was was so good and I was so tired that it just seemed like a little piece of heaven.

An awesome part of the dinner series is that you get to chat with the farmers who grew the food. I sat by Mariah from Summer Kitchen Family Farm and by Andrew and Madeleine Schwerin from Sycamore Bend Farm in Eureka Springs. All three farmers were so young and I enjoyed learning about why they chose to farm and learn more about their operation. Each farmer took a few minutes over the course of the meal to introduce their farm and speak about their practices. Patrice Gros from Foundation Farm, came to our table after dinner, shook OUR hand and told us that he is very happy to see young people supporting the locally grown movement.

If you are interested in attending one of the dinners at The Farmers Table Cafe, their are two more dates available, February 22 and March 15 at 6:30. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 479.966.4125 or emailing

While I lay no claims to being a vegan currently, you can check out my blog post about The Farmers Table Cafe and see how they cater to a variety of dietary restrictions while keeping it local. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Hiking in the Winter

Let me start by saying that I don't do cold weather. That being said, I have really enjoyed hiking the Ozarks this winter. Over the past few years, I have slowly been accumulating better gear for outdoor activities; the proper gear makes all the difference in the world. The first hike of the New Year was Kings River Falls, it was about 15 degrees.

I was only cold for about a mile and it was slightly uncomfortable to take my gloves off to tinker with my camera; however, it was an awesome day. I wore a hat, gaiter, gloves, winter hiking socks, thermal pants and shirt, fleece pants and shirt and windproof pants and coat and my new waterproof hiking boots. Layering up and braving the cold turned out to be well worth it. 

I have really come to appreciate winter hiking for several reasons. The trails are typically quite, we didn't see anyone at Kings River Falls. Once warm, you can regulate your body temperature easily by adding and removing layers. It is easier to bushwhack because much of the derbies is buried or dead and there is NO poison ivy. The downside is when you stop to eat lunch it gets cold again pretty quickly.

There are some extra precautions to take when hiking in the winter with your dogs. The German Shepherd and Australian Cattle Dog have thick fur coats and don't really need much protection in fair weather. The Pit Bull on the other hand has a very short thin coat and gets cold easily, we choose to put her in a coat while winter hiking to prevent hypothermia. In the Ozarks, be aware if you are hiking during hunting season. I suggests wearing a bright color and putting a bight color (such as a bandana) on your dog if you even think you may be hiking around hunters.

During an easy fall hike, my Cattle Dog tore her paw pad, I didn't realize it until we were back at the car. Dogs are good at disguising injuries so make sure to check their paws before after hiking. I am now on the lookout for a good pair of dog boots to have on hand in case we are on a trail and another pad is torn. Also remember to pack plenty of water for you and your dog to prevent dehydration.

Where have your winter excursions taken you?