Many times we are asked about our grocery bill---how much do we spend each month on eating a raw, vegan diet? It's not something that's easy to answer, though. If we just blurted the amount out, people would be shocked (at a minimum) and insist that there's no way possible they could ever eat a raw diet because they can't afford it.

Our monthly expense at the grocery store has continued to climb since I first began eating raw foods. At this point, now that Jim is eating 100% raw, as well, our monthly expense has more than doubled from the time when it was only me eating 100%. That's a huge increase in money being spent each month. But, you know what? It's okay! Yes, I said it's okay that our expense has more than doubled and I'll tell you why after you take a look at what we purchased last week for our home.

As some of you already know, along with regaining my physical health I've also been working on every other aspect of my overall health and being. I don't just want a healthy body---I want the whole package (vibrancy and bliss inside and out, in every way possible).

One area of my mental health that has been slow to heal is my self confidence. I continue to work on it in many ways and have made some tremendous progress over the past year, or so. I feel worthy of so much more than I ever did before.Many people never doubt their self worth---they have a good sense of who they are and assume that others see them as they are, as well.

I wrote on Monday that today (Thursday), we would be discussing mint here -- specifically, harvesting some late-remaining mint from our mint bed (shown above in all its glory) and making something with it. I failed, however, to take into account that it's been getting darker earlier and earlier these days. By the time I was able to get outside and talk about mint, it was just too dark.

So, I thought I'd forego the video, and just write up some minty facts to freshen up your Thursday. To begin, I would highly encourage anyone who is new to gardening, and wants some early success, to experiment with mint (including spearmint, peppermint, and the various varietals available here and there). I can almost guarantee that you'll have some wild (and I do mean wild!) success, and will soon enjoy more mint than the law allows. It's so easily grown, and spreads around so easily (via its root system), that it would almost be considered invasive if it weren't so darned desirable and fragrant. (It's tough to walk past a mint bed without snatching up a leaf, rolling it between your fingers, and inhaling the scent deeply.)

When I first decided to try a raw food diet again (I had sampled it for about three months a few years before going completely raw), I wanted to do it in a way to prove that it either does or doesn t work. The best way to do that, I figured, was through consistent blood tests. So, that s what I did. I have continued to document my path to health with regular blood tests. Many of you know that the results have been remarkable. My dramatic shift in weight is the most obvious to others, but there were equally impressive changes going on inside my body, as well.

It has been about a year since my last blood work was done, so I knew I should schedule an appointment to get the testing done soon (since I want to keep the tests somewhat yearly). I tend to always put the testing off, however. As much as I m curious about the results, the truth is that I m terrified of needles. Over the past few months, I was continuing to put this yearly testing off, but something has spurred me to get it done sooner than later.

A Bit of India in Pittsburgh s Back Yard?

During an intense personal journey in recent years, I ve discovered that the more I m able to know my true self, the more my perception of the world changes. As a result, my surroundings have changed as well ?people, places, directions. At one point, internal and external changes happened so rapidly, it was difficult to fully process anything; I felt overwhelmed.

Amid urges to explore so many new directions, all at the same time, it became impossible to focus. My initial instinct was to flee to India, where I could peacefully stay at an ashram and process all that was transpiring in my mind. Although circumstances kept me from traveling abroad, I knew I needed to simplify. That s when I remembered an old issue of Point of Light I d kept. I dug it out and quickly flipped through the pages? There it was: Peaceful Valley Ashram & Retreat, located just north of Pittsburgh!

Over the weekend, we visited the spectacular Oregon Country Fair in Eugene and, once again, experienced a joyful and overwhelming sense of recognition that we're living in a place where people are much more accustomed to just being themselves.

Personal expression and nonconformity are so valued here that one becomes quickly enamored of the whole ambiance, which could well explain why more people come to Oregon than leave. The region seems to represent, to many, a chance to finally discover and explore an identity perhaps not completely free from outside influence, but at least free from the undesirable influences that society elsewhere seems to insist upon. Or maybe I'm misreading it all and providing just one of many interpretations.

I'm in the mood to eat lemons, so I figured for today's Makin' It Monday I'd search the Net for some lemon recipes. Well, look what I found!

We've got three incredible posts coming your way this week, and we're going to get started right here and NOW with a one-hour interview with the incredible Kevin Gianni. As most of you know, we postponed our RV Tour recently.As part of that, we'd planned to stage a fun event related to the All Raw Directory.We'd planned to air this interview with Kevin (conducted back in December 2008) for that event.

Fast-forward to today and we realize that, like our raw RV Tour, our All Raw Directory promotion will have to wait. It's funny how things trickle down like that. But, all is not lost. This is still an incredible interview -- and guess what ! It's only part one of a two-part interview, as well as a special super-fun surprise we'll be announcing on Friday. We promise: No one in the raw food community will want to miss Friday's post. All we'll say now is that it's a truly unique, limited opportunity unlike anything you've seen here before! Trust us: You couldn't possibly guess what it is!

Wow, so much happened in Chicago that it's taking literally weeks to show it all to you!? But, hey, it's also a lot of fun to share this stuff. Wasn't that a great talk yesterday with Kathy and Danny Living !? If you haven't seen it, definitely scroll down and watch!

Here's another one for you. Meet Hatice Yavuz, co-owner along with Chef Mehmet Ak of Cousin's Incredible Vitality, another great raw destination in the Windy City. "Hatice" is a Turkish name, in case you're wondering. The "c" is pronounced like a "j" -- so, her name sounds like "huh-TEE-jay." Our interview with her ran a little long, so I'm going to have to break it into two parts. Here's part one:

Jim here... Back in November of 2010, my friends Joe Prostko, Heather Harris, and I decided to replicate an unusual experiment we'd heard about. Reportedly, some people with health issues had found improvement in their live blood samples after simply grounding themselves for a period of time. We all thought it was interesting enough to try on ourselves, so the above video is the result. ?Since it's 8+ minutes long, I'll spare you any suspense: The results were absolutely inconclusive. (However, we did have fun with it, as you'll see.)

NOTE: The site I'd posted the video on, BlipTV, seems to have gone out of business. Will have to see if I can find the video again and post on youtube.

Yesterday's post was a little "heavy," don't you think In it, we shared a bit of the stress we were experiencing related to our pending move. There was just so much data to pore through (and yes, we're still feeling that stress)!?

At times like these, it's often good to step back, breathe, and make sure you're not ...well, freaking out -- which makes today's "Take the Time Tuesday" installment absolutely fitting, for we would like you to meet a raw foodie who goes to great lengths to ensure that your "Vitamin L12" levels stay well into the superhero range. Without further adieu, then...