Companion – The Daily Post

In WordPress’s Daily Post https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/companion/ each day prompts us with a word we can choose to respond to with a blog.  I don’t often participate, but today’s word inspired me.

Companion – 

These fur babies of mine are my everyday companions.  They comfort me, entertain me and provide me endless opportunities for enjoyment.

My Boy; he’s been around longer than any other animal I’ve had the pleasure to live with. He’s just a month shy of 15 years old!  This is one old man!  He has lots to say and shares his voice often, though he is not as loud about his opinions as he was while we lived with “M”.  It is clear to me now that he is so much happier in our current living situation.  He is my cuddler; always headbutting his way into my lap to climb my torso, getting as close to my face as he can possibly can.  This Boy…we are a connected pair.  He is right here for me to make sure I am getting the love I need.

My Princess and  I are about to celebrate nine months together.  This sweet thing was offered to me when I was already mentally prepared to accept a dog into my world so it was perfect.  This girl…oh my goodness!  I adore all eight pounds of her.  She squirmed her way into my heart so quickly.  A bundle of happy energy, she is sure to perk up anyone’s sour mood.  I know I have been so much happier with this sweet face in my life.  And, how can you not like that tongue?!  It catches attention and comments constantly!  Eager to please, such a quick learner she will act on command every time.  Okay, well almost.  She also displays just the right amount of sassy, stubborn that lends an endearing quality to her already charming disposition.  I look forward to many more years together as we explore exciting adventures and share new experiences.

My furry companions force me to be in the moment; to be completely focused on them, which usually pulls me up from whatever has me down.  They just seem to know when I need a little extra attention.  They enhance my everyday life and bring me such entertainment, connection and complete enjoyment.

My sweet princess and my Boy are my most precious companions.

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Scrumptious Raspberry Pancake Sauce

Raspberries are in abundance and I have been harvesting so many pounds of these delicious jewels!  The raspberries are incredibly bountiful this year.  I already have some in the freezer, I’ve made some yummy recipes, I’ve popped them in my mouth as is for a fresh, refreshing and healthful snack.  I’m giving them away even!  I’m not kidding!  There are copious amounts of raspberries.  This makes me so very happy because I love raspberries!

I always enjoy working in the kitchen with food.  I find the task of preparing food calming and it brings me back to my happy place, especially in times of distress.  With the recent tragedy in Orlando, I have felt heartache and grief.  I have found the past few days difficult to tend to the essentials in each day.  As such, I have found myself standing in the kitchen more often than usual after spontaneously deciding to see what I can throw together just to take my mind off all the hate and pain in this country.

With so many raspberries in my kitchen I decided to focus my attention on making something with those.  I went with a sauce.  It just sounded good.  I am craving pancakes, so guess what’s next?  Pancakes!  I’m going to make a batch and have breakfast for dinner!

This was super easy and took no time at all.  Check out the recipe below and give it a try yourself!  You won’t be disappointed!

Raspberry Pancake Sauce

3 cups of fresh raspberries20160614_182747

1/2 cup raw cane sugar

1/4 cup of water

a mix of arrowroot powder and water (for thickness)

pinch of salt

squeeze of lemon (about a 1/2 tsp)

Combine all ingredients into a medium saucepan.  Place on stove top and bring to a boil.  In a separate small bowl, make a paste with arrowroot powder and water.  I tend to use about 2 tablespoons of the powder to 2 tablespoons of water.  Add to the sauce when it boils, stir until combined then continue to let it boil for 5 minutes or until it begins to thicken.  Reduce to simmer and let cook until it is your desired sauciness.  Serve warm. Yum!

 

 

 

Love Is Here, Orlando

 

Like many across the country, my day began yesterday with news of the tragedy in Orlando.  A gay bar, The Pulse Nightclub, was the scene of a deadly massacre leaving many dead and injured.  In the aftermath, cities across the nation have come together in love and support for the victims and their families.  It’s a way to gather as family and stand in solidarity against hate.

I attended one of Portland’s vigils last night.  I needed to be with my people and my community.  I wanted to grieve surrounded by love.  Most of FoodRadical’s writings and stories rarely identify that I am a woman who loves women.  If you don’t know me, this would not be apparent in my writing, with rare exceptions when I’ve used a pronoun in stories referencing “M”.  Yesterdays assault left me with such heaviness in my heart.  Learning this slaughter has ISIS leanings doubles my sadness for I know Islamophobia exists as does homophobia.  It’s all hate in my opinion and this world has too much right now.

Nightclubs and gay bars were my safe space as I was coming out and coming to terms with who I was while I found my place in my new life.  It was the space I could openly express me, be with other people like me and feel a sense of complete acceptance even though I may not have known the majority of people I was surrounded by.  There was implicit love and safety. Remembering this for myself and coming to terms with what happened in Orlando aren’t syncing well in my psyche.  Knowing that we as a community of people are still vulnerable to attacks of hatred; that this massacre took place in the one space where we are supposed to feel safe and protected is particularly heart-wrenching.

I needed to be with my people last night.  I wanted to grieve beyond my couch watching live reports and reading endless on line accounts.  I needed to be surrounded by love.  This month, June…it is our month.  June is PRIDE.  Last night my community came together and showed that Pride.  We stood in solidarity and love.  We sent prayers and love to Orlando.  My people. My Portland.  It gave me what I needed and wanted last night.  It filled me with hope.  Love always wins.

 

Pep In My Step Kale Pesto

Traditional pesto is fantastic, but I don’t eat dairy and I don’t often have a bunch of basil in my fridg.  I do however, almost always have a bunch of kale in there.  I learned long ago how to make a good dairy free basil pesto.  It’s only been in the past few years that I’ve branched out to create different kinds of pesto using greens other than basil.  I love it so much and I always feel good when I’m getting in my greens.  It puts a little pep in my step!

I don’t know what it is about June.  When this month rolls around I get to feeling giddy and happy.  This is exactly where I’m at these days.  Of course, it might be because I’ve actually got several planned vacations through out the next few months.  I’ve officially gotten the time off and I can’t wait to get this party started!!  I am really looking forward to summer, to vacations and to play!!

This pesto will definitely be on my “make to go” list when I’m planning foods for out of town trips and camping.  I mixed it up a bit and tried something new-almonds!  Traditional pesto calls for pine nuts, but they are cost prohibitive.  Walnuts are a more affordable substitute and my usual choice, however when I opened my mason jar of walnuts they smelled rancid to me.  That left me with almonds.  There ya go!  Pesto with almonds is quite delicious so remember, don’t ever limit yourself–in food or in life!

I tossed these simple ingredients into my trusty food processor and whizzed away until my pesto was creamy and mostly smooth.  I used this in a chicken and rice dish, as a pizza crust sauce base, as a salad dressing, in an omelet and even as a sandwich spread, more than once!  All from one simple bunch of kale.  Come on!!  You have to give this a try!!  So tasty and good for you; one bunch of kale can feed you for days when you get creative with it!  You’ll have a pep in your step, too.  Enjoy, my friends!  Happy June!

Kale Pesto20160602_174251

One bunch of kale (variety of your choice-I used curly)

1/4 cup sliced raw almonds

2 garlic cloves (I used home grown garlic from a friend and it packed some punch!)

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp fresh crushed pepper

a small squeeze of fresh lemon juice (about one teaspoon)

I free poured olive oil…guessing an amount? About 3 tablespoons then added water one tablespoon at a time until it reached the desired consistency.

Add all ingredients to a food processor and whiz until smooth.  Enjoy in a variety of creative ways!

 

 

 

The Sweet Life Of Raspberries

My friends, do you know what time of year we are coming into?  Raspberries, people!!  20160602_174445The precious short season of the raspberry is here and I am so happy! They are a bit early this year and growing abundantly.  I’m so fortunate to have family that share their bountiful harvest.  In fact, picking the berries is most exclusively done by me.  If I don’t they will dry up on the vine.  Age and health issues keeps my loved ones from tending to them as they have in the past.  These happen to be my favorite berry so for the next few weeks, I’ll be a raspberry picking fiend as I pluck as many as I can before they disappear.

Of course, these delicious raspberries must have a coming out party and what better way than with these fantastic scones?20160602_185952  One of my favorite recipes; I’ve made them so many times with different variations.  This time the only change I made was substituting the maple syrup for raw sugar.  Turns out that was not the best choice, but it was all I had and I’m using up my cupboard staples before I buy more.  They are good, but maple syrup is way better.  There’s a reason it’s in the recipe title.  That’s my opinion.  It certainly won’t stop me from munching on these for a mid-morning snack!

I’ve posted this recipe many times before here and if you haven’t given it a try, I highly recommend it.  Go ahead, you deserve this treat!  Happy Friday, y’all!!

http://www.nourishingmeals.com/2009/07/gluten-free-maple-raspberry-scone.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dreams Of Small

Off topic from the usual FoodRadical chatter, I want to share something that has been my focus recently.  I am learning affordable, efficient ways to utilize my small space.  I’m also testing the waters for a new direction in my writing.  FoodRadical may evolve into something different and I might decide to create a new blog with a new focus.  For now I enjoy the ease of sharing here where I am settled and established.  So, thanks for following me as I venture into uncharted territory.

I still have large house overflow in two friend’s basements and I’ve been working on downsizing my belongings with a minimalist attitude.  I realize it’s essential for small home living.  Tiny house living has had incredible appeal to me for years.  I have wasted spent hours reading articles and eyeing enticing pictures of charmed, simple living.  I dream of having my own little house on a piece of land somewhere.  Never has the dream been so close in reach than where I am now on my path.  However, the reality of that process requires a firm commitment that I am still not ready to make.  I have other places to experience and live before I decide on where that piece of land will be, therefore the tiny house will wait.

Truly, I have been practicing small house living in my little studio this past year.  Much like a mother-in-law house, my independent space is attached to a larger home that sits in a residential neighborhood of single family homes.  My private entrance is on the opposite side of the main home creating a sense of separateness.  The interior barely reaches the 400 square foot mark in size.  My home is a stilt house that sits on a hillside so I also have a large covered deck that acts as a living room extension, accessible by the gorgeous french doors that bring in plentiful light.  It’s a lovely feature; the best in my opinion.  The views I enjoy are phenomenal.  I digressed a bit!  I couldn’t help myself!

I have made considerable adjustments, coming from my previous home of over 1,700 square feet in addition to a tremendous stretch of outdoor space.  I can say I now have a solid understanding of the term “stir crazy” having lived the experience as I learned to adapt.  Yet, I now revel in the comfort of my cozy little haven.  I realize I am finding peace of mind and calmness of spirit as I let go of unnecessary stuff that has metaphorically weighed me down for years.

In a space this small with limited storage, it is essential to have a place for everything.  In my last post about the awesome Dollar Tree finds I mentioned that I would show you how I utilize their products.  As I went through my place taking pictures, I discovered I use a lot of Dollar Tree products!  There are many items useful to small space living.  My recommendation is to use your own discretion with regard to quality.  I inspect each potential purchase to determine if it will hold up well with the use I intend it for.  I try, try hard (I’ve caved a time or two!) not to buy something without a set intention for that item.  With few exceptions at this moment, I am using every Dollar Tree item I have purchased.

Additionally, I have wisely purchased furniture pieces that will give me extra storage.  I have found this to be absolutely necessary.  Never before have I so thoughtfully planned out my space or used furniture in ways I now do.  Visualizing an item for it’s re-purpose value has become rote.

I’ve attached pictures of my best and most useful purchases to date.  Enjoy what you see and I wish inspiring thoughts for you on your own organizing journey!  If you’ve made it this far, I thank you again for reading and sticking with me.  I thoroughly enjoyed sharing this stray from convention.

 

 

Hold On. This Is Different.

This is quite a different kind of post for me.  I love writing about food and sharing my special diet recipes, but I’ve got something else I really want to share.  As I work toward the goals I have created I find myself seeking out more ways to be frugal, being conscious of my spending so I can save as much as I can while still getting my needs met.

Before I started working at my current job and when I first moved to my place where I now live, there were some essentials I needed.  Since my move was sudden,  I was underemployed and all my money had been taken by my ex “M”,  I was low on cash to get these things.  My landlady suggested I go to the Dollar Tree, which was just down the street from my house to see if I could find the items I needed.  I let go of the issues I had with quality, manufacturing practices and their environmental footprint.  I really needed some things to make life in my small space more livable.  They were simple things like over the door hooks, a bath mat, organizing baskets and such.  There was comfort in these things that let me put my life back together and made my traumatic transition more manageable.  That was such a horribly rough time.  I paid $17 in total, happy that I was able to meet all my needs at such a low cost.  This is fifteen months later and everything I purchased is still in use, except for the bathmat.  I think that’s a bargain!

I have never really been interested in the Dollar Tree as a place to shop.  I have occasionally stopped there to pick up a thing or two that I would have normally picked up elsewhere at a higher price.  I have two Dollar Tree stores convenient to me so it’s not out of my way.  However, it has not been the first place I would think to shop until recently.

When I began my job,  I learned very quickly how to utilize this store to meet the needs of my many onsite activities.  I have a decent professional budget, but to stretch my finances through the fiscal year, I now shop at the Dollar Tree regularly.  I spend a lot of time planning my art and socialization classes, workshops and events.  I regularly check out on line ideas and discovered Dollar Tree hacks.  Have you heard of this?   Oh my goodness,  I have found so many fabulous ideas!  You know how it goes getting sucked into cyber world…well, my clicks led me to YouTube videos about Dollar Tree hauls.  People actually record their shopping trips to this store and then share their purchases in a YouTube video for all to see.  I’m hooked.  Yes, I admit that I am.  These YouTube videos have become my “zone out” time when I need an evening to just veg out.  I’m so fascinated with the things people find.  My trips to the Dollar Tree are now my place for personal quests as well as the fun items I find for work activities.

Quality is on my mind when I inspect something I think I might purchase.  It is only one dollar, but I still want my product to perform.  I know, how much quality can one expect for a dollar, right?  Check out some of my favorite finds.   I’ve attached pictures below.  I don’t know how long that steering wheel cover will last, but the tissue box is pretty sturdy.  And, those dog toys?  Oh my goodness!  My furry little one absolutely loves these toys.  I spent some big bucks on quality name brand toys when she first came to me and she wanted nothing to do with them.  I bought one toy from the Dollar Tree just to see what she would do with it.  Anyone who has met my princess knows she cannot greet you without one of these toys in her mouth.  These are a must purchase item!  I don’t know how long dog toys last for others, but they tend to last about three months for her with regular use.  There are three around the house at all times so none get exclusive use.  .

In past posts I’ve made reference to some lofty goals I’m working on that require me to be mindful of my finances, prudent with my purchases and work within a strict budget.  I have become quite determined to meet them within the time frame I have set for myself.

When there are things on my list that I will purchase at a store anyway and I know that I can get the same things at the Dollar Tree,  you can guess where I would purchase, right?  So far, I have only returned two things that broke immediately upon use.  I have been quite happy with all of my Dollar Tree purchases.  I know I am saving money and I am getting my needs met.  I do like knowing that the Dollar Tree does provide usable, affordable products as this is many people’s only shopping option.

Coming up in a future post:  How I actually utilize Dollar Tree products.  It’ll be my very first DIY thing I post publicly!  FoodRadical is branching out!!