When Professional & Personal Worlds Merge

I attended the most fascinating workshop this week.  This FREE event, a workshop entitled “Too Much Stuff” was sponsored by our county task force on hoarding.  Throughout the day we were encouraged to tweet  #pdxstuff  to call awareness to hoarding disorder.

I wanted to attend this all day seminar after recently having direct experience in my work with a hoarding resident who was at risk of eviction.  My goal for attending was to leave with a better understanding of brain functioning in people living with hoarding behaviors.

I certainly walked away with what I intended and so much more.  I had some surprising personal insights that shed light on behaviors I witnessed with my ex, “M”.  I was reminded of our last conversation before she told me to leave.  It really wasn’t a conversation; more like “M’s” inner monologue leaking outward because I made a feeling statement about something that was bothering me.  In the usual off topic ranting, what I heard from the babble was “M” didn’t like seeing my things around the house.  I remember being hurt and confused.  Simply put,  I lived in the house.  That’s why my things were there.  Additionally,  as in countless times of the past I attempted a real conversation about something that was bothering me and in the usual way,  I was left bewildered by the behaviors of “M” with no real resolve to the original concern.  I understand now why I let so much fall to the wayside,  but what I didn’t understand until I sat in that workshop was how much the fear of hoarding played a role in “M”‘s behavior throughout our relationship and was ultimately the catalyst for the demand that I move out.

By “M”‘s own admission, her family of origin has hoarding behaviors.  So much so that it led to decisions “M” would make in her own life.  It was the subject of many conversations.  I heard story upon story of hoarding tendencies that thread through the family lines.  Me,  person of stuff–not even close to the true definition of hoarding,  had sufficient belongings that “M” was well aware of when I moved in.  We had a room we called “the office”.   Essentially, it was an unused space with furnishings and a bunch of, well…clutter; “M”‘s things.  That clutter was different from mine though because it was hers (the illusion of having control)!  Really,  it was “M”‘s ironing room and a place to dump paperwork.   I moved in with craft supplies, taking over said “office”.  Multiple times I listened to “M”‘s complaints of the “cluttered” office.   Multiple times I asked to help me create space for my things so it didn’t look that way.   That never happened.

From the general obsessive behavior and the need for perfection to the constant concerns that the house had too much stuff (it didn’t),  I learned in this workshop that “M” displayed nearly every characteristic of a person with hoarding tendencies.  However, what I determined was that the deep seeded fear of hoarding is what kept “M” from the actual act of it, almost!  Lest I mentioned the shed full of rocks in boxes that weren’t mine!  It was truly a mind blowing day for me.  I found myself saying “wow” under my breath on numerous occasions as I had “ah-ha” moments.  Do you ever have those?  Suddenly something makes sense, it “clicks” and things all come together in your mind like a wave of instant awareness.  I have had so many of those surrounding my past relationship.

Although the demand for me to move out was on the heals of an issue “M” saw as borderline hoarding on my part, that demand truly had nothing to do with my belongings and had everything to do with the boundaries I set for myself in how I allowed her family members, specifically her adult daughter to treat me.  That is where the truth lies.

I moved, getting rid of nearly all those belongings “M” complained about.  I let them go with relative ease by the way, because I do not have a hoarding issue.  I now have a lot more knowledge of this widespread issue and I had some amazing insights that helped remind me I was not the problem in that relationship, as “M” would have wanted me and likely everyone else to believe. That workshop was another reminder that “M” really did (likely still does) have some serious mental health concerns that were not being addressed.

Since I blog mostly about food, let me not forget: we were on our own for lunch and because it is safest for me to eat my own food, I brought an amazing salad that was simple yet hearty and filling.  salad

The workshop was walking distance from the house I shared with “M”, who no longer lives there either.  I was compelled to go by because I was in the neighborhood and hadn’t been by that place since I left.  I was curious.  It looks the same.  I had no twinge of missing it or the neighborhood as I wandered by.  In fact, I found myself being grateful for right where I am and so glad that part of my life is in the past.  All this from one workshop!  My love of learning, professionally and personally will never end.




Simple Spinach Salad with Chicken

I am winding down from a fabulous long weekend.  I sure had a ton of fun!  I used the rest of my afternoon today to prepare a few things and ready myself for the week to come.  It’ll be a short one, but I already know it’s going to be super busy.  I’ll be looking forward to another coast trip next weekend and that will be here before I know it!  I even have prepared foods stored away in the freezer ready for our coastal road trip!  I will be so happy when Friday roles around and all I need to do is pull things out of the freezer and load them in the cooler to go.

I am feeling extra thrilled with my bargain meals for the week.  I bought a “happy chicken” fryer last Tuesday at the market.  I roasted it and ate lunch and dinner meals from it nearly every day.  This afternoon I cut off the rest of the chicken, creating strips for tonight’s dinner and cubes for a red curry chicken and vegetable dish later this week.  I currently have the carcass stewing on the stove top so I can make a chicken, vegetable and rice soup.  Half of that will be for my beach weekend and the other half will be stored in the freezer for future meals.  For under $9.00 that whole chicken will have given me roughly fifteen or so meals.  Isn’t that awesome?!  I did it right when I bought groceries last week!  I am learning to work it right with my new grocery budget and it is feeling great!

Check out this amazing salad I enjoyed for tonight’s dinner.  It was so simple and delicious. My tummy is happy, my little home is clean and after I finish making the soup that has begun on the stove top, I will be kicking my feet up and enjoying my peaceful evening.

Give this simple salad a try.  The flavor combination is divine!

Simple Spinach Salad with Chicken

2 cups of baby spinach

a few thin slices of red onion (to your liking)

5 pecans, roughly chopped

2 Tablespoons of dried cranberries, roughly chopped

2 ounces of sliced chicken breast, cut into strips

a couple turns of the pepper mill over the salad

drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette (home made)

garnish with fresh radishes


Dairy free “ranch” dressing

I got some fantastically beautiful heads of lettuce at the Farmer’s Market this past weekend. The heat has given farmers an abundance of lettuce and there were plenty of vendors offering great buys on what some were calling  “heat wave lettuce”!

I often have dinner with a friend who usually offers salad as part of the meal.  She makes a dairy free dressing for me that is similar to ranch and her base is mayonnaise.  I wanted to mimic this dressing to use for my lunch salads, but my goal was to find a more whole foods way to do it.  I found this creamy alternative and while it did not turn out quite like I had hoped, it was a delicious flavor.  The texture was more like a blue cheese than the smooth “buttermilk” ranch I thought it would be.  I blame that on my blending option.  I used a large blender for a small amount.  When I try this recipe again, I will use my magic bullet instead.  This makes about 1/2 cup of dressing.

On Sunday I made a last minute plan to have a couple of friends over for “happy hour” so I used this dressing with a salad made of butter lettuce, red onions, thinly sliced Bartlett pears, dried currents and candied pecans.  It turned out beautifully and received a thumbs up from my guests.  I used the remainder of the dressing for my lunch salad yesterday, but I chose a more hearty salad that can withstand a little travel bouncing.  I used butter lettuce, red onions, shredded carrots and zucchini, toasted almonds and some chili cilantro spiced chicken thigh pieces, cut bite sized.  It was a delicious salad!  I will definitely try this recipe again, adjusting my blending tool for the amount this makes.  Give it a try! It’s a great alternative that provides a great whole foods protein punch!

This is where I got the original version:


Here’s my version:

1/4 cup hemp seeds

1/4 cup cashews

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (I’m trying pickle juice next time!)

1 clove garlic

1 tsp agave

2 Tbsp water



Gettin’ My Spiralizer On!!

I have finally grasped the true use of my spiralizer that I have had for months.  I just could not seem to make that thing work the way I wanted then I realized I was using it incorrectly.  I am left handed so it took me some time to master the skill of right handed spiralizing in a left handed way.  Did you get that?  Hehe….This world was not made for left handed people!

I finally made what I would consider a true success in spiralizing.  In case you don’t know what spiralizing means; it is the art of turning vegetables into noodles.  While I was working at a local kitchen store a while back I took advantage of my discount and purchased a tool that makes spiralizing a breeze.

My farmer’s market haul this past weekend included several zucchini and yellow squash so I made a plan for “zoodles” {aka: zucchini noodles}.  This morning I made them and created a fantastic salad that was my lunch today.

I was so impressed with my creation I swear that made my lunch taste even better!  It was delicious!  I ate well today.  I am feeling great for it tonight!

Spiralizing my veggies will be my new favorite way to prepare my meals!

Spiralized Zucchini and Quinoa Salad

With one medium raw zucchini and using a spiralizing tool, create long, curly threads, resembling spaghetti noodles. Use this as the base for your salad.  Top with cooked (according to package directions) quinoa that has been cooled.  I used about 1/3 cup of cooked quinoa for this salad.  To these add:

1 medium raw carrot, spiralized

2 tablespoons toasted sunflower seeds (heat raw seeds in skillet until lightly browned)

1/4 cup marinated artichoke hearts

Drizzle with this dressing:

2 Tblsp. olive oil

2 Tblsp. balsamic vinaigrette

1/8 tsp crushed fresh peppercorns

1/8 tsp agave syrup

1/4 tsp garlic powder

dash of sea salt

Whisk in bowl or shake in jar to incorporate ingredients. (there will be more than is needed for the salad)

Enjoy!!20150720_080131 20150720_082522 20150720_082542

Moms Kick Up The Health Twisted Taco Salad

This is a long overdue post for me.  I put myself on my own loose schedule of blog posting, yet I rarely follow what I mindfully intend so I’m not sure why I even do it.  I guess sometimes it does work.  Blog writing is happening in my mind a lot more than you all see it right here.  I am just having too much fun this summer and have not had the brain space or focus to get this typed.  A definite highlight of my summer was this past weekend.  My good friend; one of my favorite people in this world, came to visit from Baltimore.  I adore that man and spending time with him gives me such deep joy.  I got an extra dose of time with him yesterday, spending the afternoon lounging at my neighborhood park enjoying a very Portland annual event.  I had such a great weekend.  Refreshed and energized, I am ready to get focused on my work week.  My focus is starting now as I write this.  I have another extra busy week, with it being my last week of classes. This means being extra prepared for on the go foods that will keep me fed into the late evening hours since class days keep me from home roughly twelve hours.  I will look forward to a two week reprieve in my time before I begin another round of classes.

Thankfully, I am still enjoying the greens from my dad’s garden.  I hauled home another large harvest to share with friends and to restock my own fridg.  I have discovered an incredibly space saving way to store my abundant produce that is working quite well.  I have also been eating greens at every meal so none will go to waste!  Salads of every variety have been my lunch and dinner meals almost daily.  Green juices, kale pesto, arugula pesto, and a variety of sandwiches piled with greens, wraps made from lettuce leaves, collard leaves…you name it, I am making it!  I have been eating well and feeling very healthy.

When my son called me not long ago to tell me he made my mom’s taco salad for dinner, I suddenly had an unbelievably strong craving for just that.  I loved my mom’s taco salad as a kid.  We all loved her salad.  As adults, my siblings agree that moms taco salad made hot summer evenings cooler.  My personal favorite part of the salad was the crushed fritos she would put in it.  To this day, I admit my weakness is still fritos.  Yes, I have had one too many love affairs with that salty, crunchy, oily goodness.  I always pay for it so I am actively avoiding my desires.  My son gave me my dinner idea and I wanted to have taco salad as well.  My taco salad is a little twisted.  There are no fritos in this one.  It is definitely not moms recipe, but I enjoyed the memories it created as I prepared my version of moms taco salad.  It was super tasty.

I look forward to my week ahead and will continue to eat greens for days to come.  If this week is like my others recently, it will fly by so quickly I will be surprised by the speed at which I get to yet another fun filled weekend.  Next weekend will be spent with a friend, who I refer to as my fast friend.  We met, connected immediately and became great friends instantly.  Five years later, our friendship has developed into a connection I know will be deep and lasting.  We will enjoy holiday festivities among many more wonderful people.  Life is good.  Life is green.  If you find yourself with bountiful greens, give this salad a try, or give it your own twist.  Enjoy!

Twisted Taco Salad

Brown one half pound of organic, grass fed ground beef with chopped white onions in a skillet.  Add spices: paprika, cumin, oregano, garlic powder, turmeric, black pepper to your desired taste.  Add half cup of pinto beans, stir and heat until beans are warmed through. Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Fill a large bowl with romaine lettuce (about 8 cups), torn into bite size pieces.  I added some arugula because I love its spicy flavor.  I topped the lettuce with the beef and bean mixture, some daiya cheddar cheese shreds and kalamata olives.  I avoid tomatoes and avocado, but these would be great additions if you desire.  I drizzled a tiny bit of lime juice over my salad, gave it a mix and stuck a fork in it! Yum!!

IMG_3280moms taco salad

Let Us Eat Lettuce

Green, greens and more greens.  Greens of all kinds are taking up most of the space in my tiny fridg.  I have a variety of lettuces, spinach, bok choy, chard mixes, kale, arugula and maybe a few more varieties I am not remembering at the moment.  Why do I have so many greens, you ask?  I will tell you that my dad; my almost 86 year old dad, decided to turn his entire back yard flower bed into a garden.  When he said he was going to do this a few months ago, I took it lightly, thinking it will keep him busy and keep his mind occupied. He said he would do this last planting season, too. He surely did plant an impressive garden, though it was not the entire bed by any means.  So when he made that comment again this year, I really did not think he would literally make the full back bed area in to a garden.  Why do I doubt my dad?  That old man did exactly what he said he would do and now he has greens in such abundance he is a bit overwhelmed.  When I was over at his house recently I went through the garden and harvested what was ready.  Upon completion, he looked at the haul I had and then looked at me saying with a sigh, “I planted too much”.  I thought, uh, yeah….you most definitely planted too much!!  Not long after that statement, I saw him glancing over his garden with a satisfied smile on his face. Too much doesn’t matter.  We’ll find good homes for all the produce.  What matters is my dads delight in planting his garden and the contentedness he feels in his outdoor work. He takes great pride in his accomplishment and will walk anyone who comes by through the backyard as he points out the different vegetables and fruits he has planted all around. He does not hesitate to say he plans on preparing yet another area in the yard for more garden.  I imagine he will do just that.

I made a fantastic lettuce wrap for dinner last night.  Sadly, I got no pictures.  I had a really busy day and I was so hungry on my drive home, I was fantasizing about the way I would prepare my wrap.  Arriving home, I promptly prepared my meal as quickly as I could so I could get that food in me!  I briefly thought of taking a picture, but I didn’t even want to take a moment for that.  I just wanted to eat!  It was delicious!  I have a few menu ideas in mind to use this produce and I also plan on whizzing all the darker greens in my juicer, putting the liquid into ice cube trays and freezing them for future green smoothie drinks. While I don’t have the type of freezer conducive to this idea, I have a large capacity fridg and freezer space at work in the community room that I plan to utilize for this purpose.  I share that fridg with just one other colleague who does not mind one bit that I will take up space in the freezer. He’s such a nice guy and I am sure he knows he’ll get to share in the harvest.

You will definitely see future posts with recipes using these greens.  I will likely make many more lettuce wraps that will get photographed next time.  I am thrilled to have my very favorite types of greens ready and waiting for me to get creative.  It is wonderful because my container garden project has not been that successful.  My romaine is doing well and my arugula is just mediocre in growth, but the other greens aren’t doing well.  I have realized that my deck just does not get enough sun to produce good growing greens.  In fact, all around the house there is not enough sun.  I have too much forest around me (and that is not a complaint!) I was feeling a bit down about the absence of the awesome beds I had in years past because I love the gardening process, but I also love the end result.  It’s okay that these greens are not from my garden.  I have plenty of opportunity to work on the sweet little farm owned by a friend of mine.  I can get my digging in the dirt satisfaction that way and I can reap the rewards of my dad’s hard work.  Until I can create my own garden again, this will suffice.  These past several months have been all about change and this is just one more area of my life that looks different now.

Change is good.  The changes that I have experienced began painfully and now these changes have relaxed me into complete contentedness.  My life is good.  These changes have given me a whole new perspective on many things.  I also have a different mindset about my dad’s abilities at his old age.  That man can make things happen when he wants them.  Age may slow him down, but it will not stop him from doing what he loves.  I take that same attitude toward my own life.  I did not realize how stuck I was while I was with “M”. Life is so much brighter and happier.  My goals are still the same.  If I can help it, nothing will stop me from doing what I love.  So far, I am headed right toward the sunshine of life. It feels fantastic!  I’ll keep that amazing feeling as I gobble up healthy greens for weeks to come!


The Garden Of Good Eating

Our garden is providing well for us this season.  This gives me immense gratification. Gardening has become incredibly therapeutic for me.  It has helped tremendously in reducing my stress and anxiety.  My rewards are tremendous not only in mind and spirit, but in body as well.  My diligence and hard work pays off in the form of healthy, organic whole food that nourishes and heals my body.

I went to check on our strawberries this morning and was delighted to discover quite a few berries ripe and reading for picking.  There are few things that give me as much pleasure as food from the garden.  Literally,  every single time I step outside to pick fresh produce I find myself getting all skippy and jumpy like a child on a playground.  More than once my sweetie giggled with me as I gleefully danced around the kitchen marveling at the miracle food right from our yard.


It was no different this morning when I discovered the strawberries.  My inspiration was instantaneous as I skipped back into the house. This was our first good pick of strawberries! My mind began swirling with ideas for these beautiful fruits.  I considered eating them for breakfast in some lovely concoction, but I just couldn’t keep these luscious, juicy berries all to myself.  It would be nice for me to share and I know my sweetie would appreciate enjoying these berries as well.  Since hospital work is everyday and never ending, my sweetie is at work today.  I decided whatever I came up with would be for later this evening.

Of course berries means dessert in my mind, however I have been trying to keep grains out of my diet.  It wouldn’t really benefit my body to make a delicious cake or crisp even though that does sound fantastic.  Besides, I wanted to taste these berries in their most natural form so I decided on a salad for dinner.  We could both share in the literal fruits of our labor, the berries are in their pure form and enhanced with even more goodness from the garden by adding green leaf lettuce and cut chives.  This salad is simple, fresh and absolutely beautiful.  Check it out!


I borrowed some ideas for this salad from one of my favorite websites http://www.nourishingmeals.com/.  You can find the original recipe there.  I made some slight changes by using raw organic agave nectar instead of coconut nectar for the pepitas .  I planned on making the dressing, also using the agave but discovered I was out of red wine vinegar.  A trip to the store revealed a bargain I could not pass up so I abandoned my red wine vinegar and dressing idea for this:

bargain of the day!!!

bargain of the day!!!

It was only $1.20; down from $4.79.  It’s made with some yummy superfruits providing tons of antioxidents.  It has a flavor zing that will make your taste buds dance!  I sprinkled the salad with poppyseeds and drizzled the dressing over the top for a fantastic tasting dish that was a feast for the eyes and belly.  I scaled the entire recipe down to accommodate a nice size dinner salad for two people.  The best part-leftovers for my lunch tomorrow!