Blaze Your Own Trail Energy Snack

I cannot believe it is almost the end of August!!  We are rolling into the fall season even though the weather still feels like summer.  The months have been flying by and upon reflection last night, I realized that today marks eight months since my life was tossed around by “M”.  I think I’ve picked myself up damn well!!  It still does not seem like all that nonsense happened eight months ago!!  Of course, I lived in the basement guest room of “M’s” house for a month while I scrambled to find other housing.  I say “M’s” basement, even though it was “our” house.  I never felt like it was mine or any part of “ours” and that feeling was regularly reinforced by “M” in words, but mostly in actions.

C’est la vie! Or as we American’s say, “that’s life”.  Never could I have imagined while I was in that basement that my life would become what it is today.  I certainly remember many conversations in my mind as I reassured myself I would be in such a different and much better place in six months than what I was experiencing, even though I had no idea what that would look like or how it would happen; I just needed to comfort my panic.

I still have brief periods where I feel like that trauma happened more recently.  When I think that through I realize it took me until late May to feel completely settled.  I lived in a space with no furniture for months, I sat on pins and needles about a wonderful job opportunity, my current position, for two months and it took me time to get back to some sense of financial stability.  I was in complete survival mode for too long and it was often difficult to relax into contentment with my new life.  I am still working on the emotional aspects of being treated so horribly in such a surprising way, but at least I’m actively working it through.  Clearly, working through the emotional facets of a relationship is not something “M” could do, which is why I am where I am.  Isn’t it a strange thing that I can say I am grateful for this experience?  I know, it’s odd to say out loud.  I absolutely would not wish this upon myself ever, ever again and I wish “M” had chosen a better way to end a relationship that did not leave me in such an awful state, but I feel like it catapulted me directly to my dreams.  For this I am truly grateful.  Additionally, I feel “saved” from a life I thought would be wonderful but realize now it would have been totally miserable.

I have a job that is perfectly suited for me.  It is the job I wished for and desired, it just looks different than I imagined.  Sometimes I have to pinch myself about this amazing job to make sure I’m not dreaming!!  I completely love it in all ways.  It has opened so many new doors for me that will let me continue to build on my dreams.  I am taking classes again!  Now, that is amazing!  They are not college classes, but it is education and I am really enjoying it.  I live in the sweetest little place located in one of the wealthiest areas of Portland for a fraction of the cost of what others would rent it for and I have the most awesome landlady ever!  She truly cares and has given me the sense of comfort and security I needed.  I have learned to live in a small space which is giving me practice for my future tiny house living.  I have let go of so much, giving me a feeling of lightness and freedom.  I have met some incredible people, I reconnected with people I haven’t seen for years.  I am developing new relationships, traveling often and generally enjoying life immensely.  I love working on my tiny house process.  It’s so exciting to think about and plan!!

Isn’t it grand?!  When I see all the incredible things that have fallen into place; when I read my own story, even I get blown away by the goodness of it all. With all this amazing and powerful stuff, it requires some high energy food to help me keep up the pace of my new life.  I am a busy woman and I realized that keeping a supply of high energy snacks is essential in my work day since I’m bouncing around town all day and sometimes into the evening!

I wanted to use more of those powerful cocoa nibs I’d written about in a previous post so I came up with this delicious trail mix that is simple and much less expensive than buying it in pre-made packages.  I buy all my nuts, seeds and dried fruits in bulk so the savings is even greater.  I’m all about the money saving right now because there is a piece of land calling for me and I need to build up my savings for that and the house that’ll I’ll plunk down on it.  Give this trail mix a try and keep a stash in your own workplace, or for a quick on the go snack from home.

Who knows what the next eight months has in store for me, but I am imagining nothing but amazing goodness because I will make it happen.  There is certainly power in positive thinking!  I am moving comfortably forward to the next best part of my life with hope and joy.

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raw walnuts, cashews, almonds and sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, raisins, candied ginger and raw cocoa nibs.

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Follower of the Month for August: Cathy Mounts

I was honored to be chosen as a guest blogger by Rogene who writes a blog called Espirational. Check out the post I wrote for her blog!  While your at it, give her site a look as well.  She provides some positive and inspirational reads that are sure to lift your spirits.  I am grateful and incredibly appreciative for the acknowledgement. I love the support and encouragement I receive from my fellow bloggers! Thanks!

Espirational: A 10 Minute Vacation for the Soul

Our August Follower of the Month is Cathy Mounts of Foodradical.wordpress.com with a wonderful healthy cooking idea.
Campfire Pouches

Campfire Pouch Photo Source: Cathy Mounts Campfire Pouch
Photo Source: Cathy Mounts

There is something about being out in the woods that brings me a sense of peace. I can relax, I can be wondrous and thoughtful.  I can find healing and gratitude.  I can come back to the city feeling refreshed and renewed.
I have found tin foil pouches to be my number one favorite way to create delicious campfire meals, just the way I like them!  That smoky, campy taste is undeniably delightful.
Using heavy duty tin foil, pull off a sheet that gives you enough coverage for folding (about 12″x12″), fill with your favorite veggies, layering with the veggies that cook the longest on the bottom.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with your choice of spices.  Fold the foil and pinch edges to…

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On The Road Again

I am about to head out again; this time with my new car and my sweetie!  This combination will be a success.  Except I woke up to rain.  Not just a little rain.  I’m talking R.A.I.N!!!  Pouring rain!  This should be interesting.  Camping and rain are not my favorite combination.

I was quite productive yesterday in getting things ready for this trip.  I started out my morning feeling so anxious about taking my new car on this trip.  My daughter told me I had car PTSD.  She may be right!  I was so worried that I took my car in to a shop that specializes in my particular make and had it looked over for any potential problems.  Once again, I was told my car is beautiful and in great mechanical condition.  I should go on my trip worry free.  I guess I can start relaxing.

It helped me feel more excited and gave me motivation to prepare some delicious food for this trip. I kept busy in the kitchen all day and had quite a bit of fun in the process!

I made some “chips” from rice tortillas.  They are easy, portable and will taste delicious with the dip I made, which was a combination of spinach, artichoke hearts, garlic, kalamata olives and white beans all blended together.  It tastes delicious but is not that eye appealing so I decided against a picture.  I’m sure it will go great with the veggies I packed, too!

I love grilled veggies in tin foil packages so I added a couple of those to our cooler.  This is a mix of yellow onions, garlic, carrots, turnips, radishes, green beans, sweet potatoes and curly kale.  I mixed it with olive oil, some basil, cumin sea salt and pepper.

I made a some pizza with my favorite store bought crust.  The base is basil pesto using fresh basil from our garden.  I topped it with red onions, kalamata olives and a mix of shredded daiya cheeses.

Of course, I always have to add a treat to the menu.  I thought I would try a no bake cookie and the end result was not that appealing, in my opinion, but I’ll take them along anyway.  I think I need to tweak this recipe a bit to make it better.  So, I’ll leave the recipe out for now until I can perfect it more.

We are ready, with great food in tow.  Rain or not, we are on the road toward fun!

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Salt Lake City Saga

I am happy to say that this post will actually contain some of the content I had hoped to discuss when I first began my trip; gluten free/dairy free across America.  But first, I just have to use this space as a rant so bare with me while I get this out.  You see, sitting in my motel room in Salt Lake City yesterday morning brought the full realization that this is as far as I will get across America.  Utah.  I was driven here with my car in tow to get a proper diagnosis and repair quote for it after I broke down in Wyoming.  You can read about that right here:  http://wp.me/4cJfr

I learned that the repairs to my car, which basically would be a new engine, will cost more than the value of the car.  A previous repair job to fix a thermostat and radiator hose issue that I received a couple months back in my home town was not done properly and is believed to be the crux of the problem.  It was exacerbated by outside temperatures and not allowing the car to rest for long enough periods during steep uphill climbs when it would begin to overheat.  It was so dang hot with very few safe and shady places to pull over.  It was such a dilemma that as I look back, I don’t know that I would have done anything different.   But, you know I had a lot of “shoulda, woulda, coulda” thoughts.  It would have eventually broken down regardless of how many times I stopped and cooled it.  A loose fitting hose was causing it to overheat.

Let me just say, I sold a pretty sweet Toyota Corolla so I could buy this vehicle.  I wanted a bigger car.  I missed my truck for its size and capabilities.  I wanted space on my road trip for supplies and sleeping.  I bought this car specifically with my trip in mind.  I have had it for four months.  Yes, that’s it.  Four months.  Now, those of you who know me closely, you know the bad car karma that has followed me all of my adult driving life.  I had a reprieve for a good long time, owning one vehicle for seven years.  That Toyota and I could have probably had a good long ride together, too.  It was just too small for me and hurt my back getting in and out.  I really wanted a road trip vehicle with a strong engine.  I thought I had it.  It was fabulous in so many ways and for the one night I did actually sleep in it, it was about as perfect as I could have wanted.

So, as you can imagine, I have had quite a range of emotions over this entire ordeal.  Since last Thursday evening I have been without my car and have been stuck in areas that leave much to be desired, in my opinion.  My savings are quickly dwindling because instead of camping along the way I am now staying in motels as I have no other options.  I have been in Salt Lake since Friday when I learned my car is not worth fixing.

The entire weekend was filled with multiple conversations to car dealerships, car shopping and  re-thinking the idea of fixing my vehicle.  I was unsuccessful with anything having to do with a vehicle.  In between doing this, I spent a lot of time walking in circles, getting lost, sitting on street corners so confused about where I was or how to get where I wanted to be.  Why was it that each time I asked someone for directions they weren’t from here?  Just my luck, right?  It was so damn hot and I had reached my capacity to deal with anything remotely difficult so I gave up being confused on the streets and spent the rest of my Saturday in my motel room wasting away another day.  Hey, I am grateful for my studio style motel room that is quite spacious with a couch and chair so it seems more home like.  At least I didn’t feel claustrophobic.

As frustrating, exhausting and overwhelming as all this was, I knew that I would be here through Monday so I did the best attitude adjusting I could to accept my situation, and I just have to say, that was not an easy task!  I used my Saturday motel time to try and find the positive things about where I am.  I read up in visitor’s guides about all the places I could get to by public transit which is just a two (metropolitan, so more like four!) blocks walk.  I studied maps, something that does not come easy for me.  I tried to understand the city grid which uses the Temple Square as its focal point where all directions begin.  I wrote down directions of places to see, location of the grocery store, times of trax arrivals (public transit), addresses of all locations I wanted to visit.  I had a plan and on Sunday morning I was ready to have a good day.  I wanted to try and have at least one decent day in all this mess.  What I didn’t realize is this city pretty much shuts down on Sundays.  So my plans were shot since nothing was open.  Seriously?  Who closes a park on Sundays?  This city does!  Even though I am not a fan of shopping malls and avoid them as much as possible, I was willing to wander one on Sunday.  Yet, even the mall was closed.  Really??  Because it’s Sunday?  That doesn’t even make sense to me.  It was nearly 100 degrees that day and this heat is so dry with no wind.  100 degrees in Salt Lake is not like 100 degrees in Portland.  I was absolutely done.  Did I mention it was HOT?!  I was done wandering the streets crying because I was lost and so confused about where to go, I was done trying to find something….anything to do that would make this stay better.  I completely gave up.  I worked so hard to come up with a plan, I struggled to find any sort of good in this, I wanted to have some kind of fun.  Nope. Wasn’t happening.  Sunday was another wasted day in my motel room.  That day, I just slept. Seriously, I just laid on the bed or on the couch feeling sorry for myself.  Did I say I was grateful for a king size bed with lots of fluffy pillows?  Yes, well it helped me to completely check out of that day.  I could no longer cope.

I was so thankful for Monday to arrive.  The city was open again, public transit had a more consistent schedule and I was determined to get the heck out of here by days end.  I got up and out very early before the heat arrived.  I actually did not get lost.  After 3 days of trying I finally got it.  It starts with turning left once out of the motel.  I am horribly direction challenged and those who know me well will understand the hilarity of that phrase.  I was able to get things I needed,  I was clear headed and could focus on my surroundings and felt very accomplished by the time I returned to my motel and still had the entire day ahead of me to find a solution that would get me out of here.  Do I even need to say what happened with the remainder of the day?  No, it was much like the rest and here I sit on Tuesday morning; still in Salt Lake.

After an entire day that ended up like all the others since I’ve been here, I was back in tears and beginning to think I would need to find a job here or something because I would be stuck here forever.  I found too many challenges in most of my ideas and really just couldn’t think about what I should do.  I can’t really explain what happens when I get overwhelmed these days, but I blame it on grief.  Usually, I can get through rough spots and come up with a practical solution.  I am very practical minded and don’t often let emotions rule my thoughts or behavior.  I am a thinker, an observer and a problem solver.  However, it has been a different experience since my mom has died.  When I get overwhelmed all sense goes out the window.  I can’t think practically, in fact, I can hardly think at all.  It’s like I just shut down and have tunnel vision.  So, when what seemed like my only options for leaving this state had been exhausted I truly did not know what I would do.  I was imagining all kinds of scenarios, none of which were good or even realistic.  So when I received a suggestion to rent a car and just come home, I thought why the hell didn’t I think of that?! There is even a car rental place directly across from where I am staying.  I look at the damn building each time I walk out the motel door.  The thought of renting a car never came to me.  See?  Tunnel vision.  I called my son and he helped me to make a reservation. Yes, I am completely capable of doing this on my own in any other circumstance.  Yesterday, I was very thankful for the help and I really did need it.   Later today I will be picking up the rental car, going to the service center to retrieve my belongings from my broken down car and be on my way home.  This trip across the country ends here.  So many things about this are horribly disappointing, but my biggest disappointment is not getting to visit my son who lives in North Carolina.  He worked really hard to finagle time off from his job so he could spend time with me.  The last time we saw each other was during my mom’s illness and death.  I wanted to spend happy time with him.  This makes me really sad.

Today, this nightmare finally ends.  I can only hope (beg the Universe!) that my trip home will be smooth and no more problems will occur because I have had plenty of them all ready, thank you very much.  I am so excited to leave and get back on the road.  I am also so depressed and feel completely defeated.  I can definitely put this experience in the never want to do this again category.  I have found very little to enjoy about this trip, however I did find a little gluten free here in this horrid city (Sorry to any Salt Lake natives! How do you live here?).  At least I got to eat my kind of food for the most part.  Oh, and for anyone who ever again says I pack too much food for trips, I will have you know it was the best thing about this trip. I have eaten the way I want, lacking in some fresh produce at times, but I have had my kind of food for this entire trip because I pack a lot of food!

I found this store that is similar to a store in my home town and while minimal, I did find organic and gluten/dairy free products.  Most people I have talked with here look at me like I am from another planet when I mention gluten free.  One wonderful motel desk clerk knows his gluten free places and happily shared a great Chinese restaurant that had options for me.  I did order from there and it was quite delicious.  Quite by accident, I learned of a gluten free bakery that is close to me.  I would like to think I’ll stop by there today, but I’ll see how my morning goes.

So, if you have read this far, thank you for sticking with me.  This is probably the longest blog I have written.  Here’s a look at what I have been eating, what I purchased and what little bit of the city I have seen.  I plan on taking those two plastic containers you see in the picture that are filled mostly with a mix of greens and dividing them up evenly between the containers, adding some other veggies and some deli meat chunks for salad meals.  I was pretty impressed with myself for even coming up with this solution to decent meals.  I take delight in the little things.  It’s all I’ve got right now.

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salad greens, veggies & left over imperial chicken from chinese food place made a fantastic to go salad!

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My bag I used to haul my supplements doubles as a great lunch bag! It’s insulated & that small metal container has ice in it to keep my salad cool! Ingenious!

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Harmon’s carries some of my kind of foods!

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says it right here!

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IMG_2526 My homemade sunbutter crunch. Perfect morning food with the almond milk I purchased.

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Here’s the food I purchased!

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My daily walk to anywhere was on this street

 

 

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city creek mall actually has a real creek and real greenery

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Temple Square

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Hello From Wyoming!

Here I am in Evanston, WY, which appears to be the betting capitol of of the Mountain States. There is betting in every form from keno to horse racing to greyhounds to rodeos.  I have been here since last night due to a botched home town auto repair job that resulted in my car having issues while on my travels and eventually breaking down completely right at the highway off ramp of this tiny cowboy town. The only auto service shop in town does not have the right machinery to repair my car so it will need to go Salt Lake City, UT which is about 80 miles away. I am so grateful to AAA right now. Me and my car will be towed in the morning where I will likely stay through Monday while my car gets repaired.
This is certainly not the road trip I envisioned. In fact, most of this trip so far has been challenging and not so much fun for me. I battled with myself to even blog about these obstacles that have created way more stress than I have cared for.  I would say that I almost feel embarrassed that this long dreamed journey has been what feels to me like a complete bust.  I don’t really know what I expected, but I didn’t anticipate car troubles that would keep me from moving along for days or the expense involved in repairs.
I suppose this experience now becomes part of my journey. I have been intrigued by small town America where there is most definitely no gluten free or dairy free options. I guess I can say I am also grateful for my meticulous food planning and preparations because even though I have had cooling issues with my food and have had to toss a few things for safety sake, I still have quite a stock of food. The motels where I have stayed have had refrigerators and microwaves so in that regard, it has worked well for me. I am, however, desperately low on fresh produce and that led me to the motel’s salad bar that I was excited for until I viewed my options. There was iceberg lettuce, not even spinach! along with about 5 other things that I could eat. Thankfully there was a dressing available so although it was far from my ideal salad, I have to give credit to the freshness. That salad was crisp and satisfied my need for fresh veggies. Even though I love my home made food, after days of travelling, it’s fresh factor is dwindling.
I understand that Salt Lake City is relatively large and will likely have grocery store options for me. I guess I will find out tomorrow. For now, I will be heading down the road to enjoy the evening fireworks, which I hear are pretty great. Have safe and happy celebrations if that is what you do on this day.

Here’s a couple of my road trip foods I ate today!

Enjoy!

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Raspberry Chia Seed Pudding

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pizza made with basil/artichoke pesto, roasted radishes, swiss chard, artichoke hearts, chicken breast pieces and a sprinkle of basil.

The Journey Begins

The past 24 hours have been a whirlwind of preparations and incredible anxiety as I loaded up my car and headed out of Oregon on my adventure across the country.

I have anxiously awaited this trip for so long and dreamed about it for even longer.  Now it is here; my road trip across middle America has begun!  Gluten Free/Dairy Free Across America  {http://wp.me/p4cJfr-ph}  is my blog that highlights my trip.  I had intentions to blog my beginnings yesterday morning before I hit the road, however anxiety and my overwhelmed state of mind made it pretty impossible to accomplish anything other than getting ready to leave and even that was incredibly difficult!

I had a few stress related glitches and there were a few moments when fear paralyzed me from going further.  I left home a lot later than I had anticipated, forgot a few things in my haste, most importantly-all my maps and travel books!  Yeah, that was cause for severe panic.  Feeling very disoriented and after some brief encouraging words from my sweetie, I decided to continue on and pick up maps along the way.  My first night was near Ontario, OR at a very peaceful campground.  I met a super neat guy who had the same vehicle as me.  He gave me some sound wisdom on how to baby my engine over the steep mountain roads so I won’t have overheating issues.  He also was kind enough to show me some maps so I had an idea of what I was going toward.  He even highlighted some choice spots to check out beautiful sights.  And so it begins….

I am currently enjoying a little air conditioning in a Whole Foods Market in Boise, ID.  I needed some time to orient myself and this store feels familiar, so here I sit.  I also need to be available for a phone appointment so I’ll hang out and find my center again.

I am sure there are plenty of options for my kind of eating since this is a Whole Foods Market, but I am plenty stocked with food at the moment.  I am not impressed with my 12 Volt cooler, but I may have it over full.  It is just too warm to have mediocre cooler temperatures so I have decided to purchase an insulated cooler for food safety (and my health!) sake.

Here’s a few pics of some yummy road trip food that I have enjoyed so far.  I promise recipes later!  It’s all in the car right now!  So far, I am happy with my road trip food choices. Now, I must seek out some additional cooling before it all goes bad!  More to come as I journey along!

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