Two Years Of Good

This day brings significance I must acknowledge. Two years ago today I moved into my sweet little space I now call home. I believed it to be the worst day of my life. I was grateful for a place to call my own, thinking I was headed toward homelessness, but I longed for my old life. This change was abrupt. It was forced. It was not my choice. The day I walked out the door of my old house my relationship was officially over. It ended a month previously, really. I moved myself into the basement guest room while I frantically tried to find other living arrangements. When I wasn’t doing that I was trying to wrap my mind around what the hell happened.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while you’ve read the story of my abrupt life change. In this past blog Dip. Dip. Depression. I share the story of what happened that led me to walk through the door of my new place two years ago. Re-reading it myself I can say the most significant realization is the same. I can also say that two years later I still have no idea what happened to “M” for her to behave so horribly. I also still have no idea why she ended our relationship or why she chose to completely cut me out. I feel pretty confident now I know what happened in “M” that caused her mental break, but she will never tell me so I’ve come to my own conclusions and closure. I had to and I am still no less appalled by what she did, by the way. I accept that it is what it is. I can conjure up compassion for her occasionally, though it’s brief and far between. I know she struggles and suffers emotionally and that’s really an awful way to be. It’s unfortunate.

I don’t often give “M” my mental energy these days. I like much more to focus on my awesomely positive experiences and the goals I am working toward. Life fell magically back into place looking completely different than the old life I was longing. Soon enough I was done looking back, feeling happy and making plans for my future. I have a job I call my dream job even though much like my life it is very different than I imagined.

Life is good. Most days I’m pretty content. I honestly can only see misery when I think of the what if. That being if we had stayed together. Interesting how two short years can change my view of “the good life”. I like where I’m at now. I like where I’m going. While there have been plenty of struggles, I persevere. I really try to be positive. Soon enough things will change again, this time by my own determination. I will always be deeply grateful for this place that became my home. It’s where I came back to myself. Happy two years of good to me!

Gorgeous view from my kitchen window on a recent snowy day

This Oregon Life

I have been eagerly awaiting decent Oregon weather so I can get out in the woods to enjoy some camping.  With my ready made camping vehicle, I can be on the go without much preparation other than food.  It is so awesome to get in and go!  I’ve been really excited to get out in nature and enjoy my beautiful Oregon.  Let me tell you, I desperately need out of Portland these days!  I enjoyed an extra long trip last weekend and this weekend I did an over-niter just because I can! Nature, beauty and primitive camping is not far from Portland.  Less than a two hour drive brings me to the peace I want.

 

My lovely state did not disappoint!  The weather was perfect both weekends.  Last weekend I stayed at a new campground for me and this weekend I went to an old time favorite spot where I have been camping for years.  Both spots brought me the calm solitude and connection with nature I love.

My sweet princess is not a fan of camping.  Her first weekend she spent terrified and preferred the comfort of my lap or on the bed safe inside my rig.  Even with friends she loved, being out and near the camp fire was much too scary for my little one.  Freshly returned from my second camping trip of the season my little girl is exhausted.  This time she was attacked by a dog much larger than her as we were taking a walk.  Irresponsible pet owners did not have their dog leashed at their campsite.  When we walked by, he ran out to us and attacked my baby. Thankfully, she has only minor physical injuries but she is now a skittish, terrified little thing.  I certainly hope she gets back to her usual spunky happy self soon.  My poor, sweet baby.  That was a terrifying experience for us both.

 

We’re taking a couple weeks break from camping to enjoy other weekend activities, but we’ll be back at it again with more adventures and good food in store!!  I’ve got some camping with dog experience behind me now so I think I’m more prepared for future trips. Every chance I get this coming season, I will be out in the great green of Oregon.  If my plans lay out as I hope, this will be my last summer in Oregon so I am taking advantage of what my great state offers so close to home. (I’ll share more about this later!)

As my usual style, food is the center of attention for my camping adventures.  Remember that raspberry sauce I wrote about not long ago?  Here’s the same version with blueberries added.  It made for a delicious pancake sauce this morning.  There’s nothing like freshly made food in the great outdoors.  It just tastes better!  I added a dollop of plain coconut Greek style yogurt, which is actually quite sweet and not tart like typical dairy yogurts. The combination was fantastic!  Add a steeping cup of fresh brewed java, a little fire to watch dance and this morning was divine!20160626_093914

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

FoodRadical. Getting Radical. Reflection. Change.

It has been a good, long time since my last post, hasn’t it?  A year has ended and new beginnings are upon us.  Today marks one year of living in my amazing “nest above the city”.  I am hoping this year is bringing you all continued peace and happiness as we make our way into 2016.

2015 was an amazing year.  It was my “bucket list” year.  Do you have a bucket list?  I’ve had a mental one for years.  Some of the things on that list are grandiose like taking a trip to Ireland, which I did a few years ago.  That was such a great one, I plan on checking it off twice!!  There are small things too, but desirable enough to earn a spot on my list, like make friends with a mechanic.  I did just that this past year!  In fact, I now have two!  I feel silly happy that I got to check off several “bucket list” achievements in 2015.  It put a little pep in my step each time!

My last post, Be Kind. Eat Kind. My Kind of “Kind” Bar I hinted at stressful times. Another one of my bucket list goals was to buy a new truck.  I did buy a truck only to wreck it hours later in a chain reaction six car accident on one of our local highways.  It was a horrible rainy night and there were many accidents throughout the city.  I honestly do not know how I walked away unscathed.  My arms were a bit sore, I imagine from my steering wheel death grip.  Otherwise, no injuries at all and for that I am truly grateful.  Other drivers in that mess were not as fortunate.  My truck got it good, but it is now fixed, looking new again and driving fine, thanks in part to my new friend!

I got a new addition to my household in 2015.  Isn’t she adorable!?  Getting a dog was not really on my bucket list, but I have wanted one for several years.  This sweet thing came to me a few months ago and has quickly worked her way into my heart.  She’s perfect.

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Got my rain coat & I’m ready to ride!

After eleven years of working in a different career I accepted an amazing new job back in my degree field of social work  in 2015.  It is a job that suits me perfectly.  I have found what feels very much like the dream job I have desired in my mind for years.  Pretty cool, right?!  My job satisfies my need for a creative outlet and immerses me in the kind of work that gives me such passion.  I completely love my job even when I have had a day from hell.  I wake up every morning excited to start my day.  This job keeps me very busy and as a result, I have far less creative energy or time for my blogging.  Finding the sweet dance that balances my mind, body and spirit is my daily challenge.

Although you have not seen posts recently, I have been working “behind the scenes” to change up my blog a bit.  It is a slow process.  It is not quite ready to go pubic.  I can feel the desire for change in my blog, yet I am still ironing out the direction I would like to see it take.  Be assured you will continue to see delicious food and recipe posts!  There is still creativity happening in Food Radical’s kitchen!

2015 was about change.  Abrupt, forced upon me change.  In a post earlier this year, Dip. Dip. Depression. I described what had happened to create this abrupt change.  This is the dark side of 2015.  There have been rough times and I have struggled.  In the midst of it I was constantly blessed with serendipity; my reminders that where I am is good and right.  2015 guided me to where I am currently in my life.  I am so deeply content; happy on my new path.  I feel focused and determined to continue checking off those bucket list items. These past few years have taught me that there is no time like the present.

Do what you love now.

2016 will be about change.  This time it is planned, gradual and deliberate change.  Food Radical will be making radical change in 2016.

I feel more alive and awake than I have felt in a very long time.  This past year has been incredibly transformative.  I never could have imagined the magic I have experienced in this last year.  It has renewed my faith in people; there are so many generous and giving souls in this world.  It has given me hope for the future and grounded me in the comfortable security I needed in moving forward to shape my new life.  That platform is where change happened.  It has been pivotal in goals I’ve established for myself.

As I look to this coming year I think of the accomplishments I have made and those yet to come.  I am living more wholly in my life, feeling more authentic and courageous.  This year will be about change.  I imagine it will be the most radical change I have experienced thru far.  Unquestionably, I am ready to embrace the abundance before me.  I will end with a quote from one of my favorite spiritual leaders.  His passing a few months ago left a deeply sad place in my heart.  His words have been my inspiration this past year.

“Miracles come in moments. Be ready and willing.” Dr. Wayne Dyer.

 

 

 

Mad Mango Green Smoothie

It seems it was just a few days ago that I blogged, but I realize that a bit more than a few days has passed.  I find it ironic that I am about to share about a smoothie I made this morning when my last post was complaining about the inconveniences I experience in making them!

Ha!  I was whining.  I get like that about my kitchen.  It just lacks the space I want.  However, I am quite content with my sweet little place overall.  I am getting so close to having a completely furnished studio apartment!  Yes, heading toward my tenth month of being here; it has taken quite some time to thoughtfully recreate my small home into functional, usable space without being over crowded.  I recently got the perfect bookcase that fits the space I wanted it like it was meant to be right there.  I finally unpacked a box just marked “home” not knowing what I would find inside.  I discovered all my wonderful books and spiritual totems that were in the former “Zen room” as “M” and I liked to call a room at the old house.  It was the only room in the house that felt peaceful and calm to me.  It was the only room “M” did not go into to except for plant watering, thus the tranquility!  It was my refuge and it was the room “M” had much scorn toward.  Too much feeling stuff could happen in that room!  That’s why I loved it.  That is why “M” didn’t.  I remember my beautiful symbols that grounded me and brought me back to center were called “clutter”.  Well, I am thrilled to have my totems, books and pictures that bring me so much happiness displayed where I can see it all again.  This is no clutter!  This is what guides my life! Visible in a lovely cabinet I scored at a bargain price!  A glimpse over to my fireplace mantle, rustic and charming; there is an arrangement of memorabilia dedicated to my childhood and my mom along side my most precious spiritual totems.  It makes my heart so happy.

I woke up way too early this morning.  I’m not sure why and I really wanted to sleep more, but my body said no so I was putzing around before the sun was up.  That used to be a regular waking time for me, however I now enjoy sleeping an average of seven hours nightly and generally sleep much later than in the past.  This is another interesting observation I have made in my time away from “M”.  Some of the worst sleepless nights I experienced were while I was living with “M”.  I now enjoy some of the most restful nights ever in these past nine months! Amazing, isn’t it?  I think it’s fantastic.  I suppose that is why most mornings I wake feeling energetic and motivated to begin my day.  Even though this day began around 4:30 a.m. I feel happy and excited for the day ahead.  I have enjoyed the company of one of my favorite out of town friends this past week and hope to catch one more glimpse of him before he heads back to the east coast later today.  I’ve spent my early morning finding peace in my tranquil environment, candles burning, fall decor surrounds me.  I love this time of year.  My little place is comfortable, homey and cozy.

It put me in the mood to take some time to continue this good feeling by fueling my body with healthful food to start my day.  I have had frozen mango chunks in my tiny freezer and want to move them out so I can make room for jars of chicken soup I’ll be making later today.  I went a little crazy with chicken on my recent shopping trip!  More on that in another blog!  I came up with this delicious breakfast treat that satisfied me and had the perfect flavor.  I also feel really good knowing I’ve begun my day with wholesome, fresh goodness!  Give this smoothie a try, drink (or eat) and feel great!

Mad Mango Green Smoothie

2/3 cup frozen mango chunks

1/2 medium banana

1/2 cup packed purple kale

1 cup cashew “milk” (or other milk of your choice)

sprinkle of nutmeg

drizzle of pure vanilla (about 1/4 tsp)

Blend all ingredients in magic bullet or other blender until smooth.

Mine was just thick enough that I decided to enjoy it with a spoon!!  YUM!

Thick enough to enjoy with a spoon!!

Thick enough to enjoy with a spoon!!

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Clutter?? Phooey!!

Clutter?? Phooey!!

Daring Greatly With Delicious Simplicity

One of the many awesome benefits of blogging through WordPress are the writing challenges offered by authors of the Daily Press. I consider them all, yet only write when the topic deeply moves me.  A lot of the time topics have nothing to do with food or cooking.  I usually work to make the spin since that is the focus of my blog.

The challenge: What is vulnerability to me and how does it influence my writing. The topic developed from Brene’ Brown’s book, Daring Greatly. Brene’ Brown is a social worker who studies shame and vulnerability. I first learned about her several months ago when my bff suggested I watch her TED Talk presentations. In those beginning days after “M” shocked me by telling me to move out without explanation, I was definitely exposed to raw vulnerability. Brene’ Brown’s words were my steadfast companion nearly every night for countless weeks. I read her books, too. Her words resonated with me so strongly and deeply.

Brene’ says, “to feel is to be vulnerable”.  In those first few days I was shocked and numb. I spent them at my bff’s house drinking rum and eating potato chips when I wasn’t laying on the couch staring at the ceiling, in alternating states of utter disbelief and paralyzed panic. I had no control over what was happening, didn’t know why it was happening and it was threatening the very core of my sense of safety and security.  Home.  I thought I would be homeless.  I thought I would have to give up my cats.  I had no money and a very part time, minimum wage job.  I was so deeply disturbed by the behavior of this person I loved. It really scared me. I wondered what other awful things “M” might inflict on me. It triggered past trauma that created an inner tsunami. I felt unbelievable anger and confusion, made even worse by “M’s silence. Every imaginable feeling coursed through me. Mostly I felt defenseless and unsafe. My bff supported me through all my messy feelings, never once making me feel ashamed of where I was right in any given moment. That exposure was pure vulnerability; allowing others to see me and to really be seen at a time when I needed to be seen the most.  My bff loves me through my struggles and my strengths.

I spent the next several months feeling incredibly exposed and vulnerable as I struggled to secure a place to live, get a job and re-build my life. I asked for help often. What I really wanted to do was curl up in a ball and sob uncontrollably while screaming to the skies, why is this happening?!  But, I faced each day; I did what I needed to create stability and security for myself again.  Along the way I have been so blessed with good fortune in every aspect of my life. I have received an abundance of love in endless ways by countless people, some of whom I did not know at the time and are now friends. This story, part of my journey, has unmasked a level of vulnerability I am so grateful to have experienced. I feel deeply humbled by this walk in life.

Vulnerability is pure courage.

Brown says “only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” Whew! That is a big statement!!  Makes me catch my breath! Seems so scary!  Yet, also as Brown says, one must believe they are worthy of love and belonging. What I currently experience is a complete sense of wholeness in my life.  My job reflects my truest self and I am excited as I develop my role and do what I love.  My relationships are blossoming.  I am stable and happy in my home.  At this moment I can truly say I feel I have everything I want and need right now.  I am happy.  I do believe I am worthy.  I know I am not perfect. I own my mistakes.  I am willing to show up in life with all my imperfections and just be real. Truth and courage are not always comfortable, but they are never weakness.

Vulnerability is not weakness.

To say this is to say having feelings equates to being weak. Vulnerability is certainly risky and scary. It opens one up to the possibility of hurt and betrayal, but it also creates connection and love.  I would much rather live with love and connection in my world than feeling the need to be perfect, having fear of rejection and judgement for not being so.

How does vulnerability influence my writing?  It challenges me to be thoughtful in my words, to speak my truth and to risk the criticism of others.  I also feel strong enough in myself to take that risk because I know the critics don’t matter.  I don’t think it makes it less scary to “put myself out there”.  I just feel the need because to do otherwise is to reject who I am. To see my own words gives me strength in my truth. It cultivates a momentous energy of joy and fulfillment.

As I said earlier, this topic and the story that developed has nothing to do with food. Here’s my twist; I took one of the biggest steps of my life thus far; one that makes me feel completely vulnerable and exposed. That is, I am actively taking steps to buy a tiny house and a piece of land.  Scary and so incredibly exciting!!  With this decision comes huge responsibility and accountability.  I decided to cut back on my grocery bill so I can save more quickly toward my goal.  I developed the most delicious soup recently that was simple and cheap.  Getting a little more creative in the kitchen and using what is on hand in my fridg helps me save money and feel accomplished as I work to make a long time dream a reality.  I know this to be true: I am worthy.  It’s okay if I feel completely vulnerable even saying that!

Enjoy the delicious simplicity of this soup, know you are giving your body healthful nutrients and saving a little money while you’re doing it!

Simply Delicious Soup on the Cheap

Put the carcass of a 2# chicken (organic, free range) into boiling for 30 minutes to 1 hour, allowing any remaining meat to come off the bones.  Strain liquid into bowl then add back to the stock pot, keeping the burner on simmer.  When bones are cooled, clean the meat from them and add back into the stock pot of liquid.  At this point you can add any spices and veggies you have accessible in your kitchen.  Bring the stove temperature back up to a boil for 2 minutes then reduce heat to a simmer for 1 hour or until all vegetables are tender.  Here’s what I added:

9 radishes

1/2 of one yellow onion

1 garlic clove

1 small patty pan squash

1 medium yellow squash

3 medium carrots

1 cup of chopped fresh parsley

1 15 oz can of great northern beans, drained

1 small handful of quinoa linguine style noodles (just enough for some “chew”)

Spices included: garlic powder, tumeric, thyme, crushed pepper and sea salt

In total this entire soup cost me about five dollars if I don’t include the price of the entire chicken, which I got several meal from before the soup!  I am still eating it 6 days later. Today’s lunch will be the last of it!  Now that is savings!

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Fill me up with 2015–Anniversary Post

I wanted to acknowledge the one year anniversary of my blog on the actual day which was December 30th, and thought of sitting down to write a few times that day.  Unfortunately, more of my thoughts were consumed with a sudden life crisis.  I know, like I need another one, right?   However, this crisis was absolutely unexpected.  This one came way out of left field and smacked me head on, leaving me completely dazed and confused.  It sent my survival instinct into overdrive and bubbled up an anger in me that rarely rears its ugly head.  I am physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted.

I’m not prepared to go in to much detail at this moment, but I know eventually I will share what is happening because this crisis will have a profound affect on my dietary lifestyle and eating preferences.  Since this blog has become about my way of eating, cooking and living I don’t see how this could not spill over into words right here.

Today, this first day of the new year, I am relaxing.  I am empty.  Absurdly coincidental, I think.  I will fill myself with love in the company of good people.  I will fill myself with the knowledge that once again I am being reminded that I am an incredibly strong woman.  I am proud of my ability to persevere.  I will fill myself with the reverence of life and with deep gratitude for all the lessons it presents me.   I cannot think of a better day to do this than today.

Happy New Year, my blogging friends.  This writing journey has filled my soul in a way I never expected.  I have come to love this community of people and the support I have received from each one of you.  Thank you for being a part of my world in 2014.

Cheers to 2015.  I look forward to its many blessings and opportunities.  I will leave you with some of my favorite food pictures of this past year.  Peace and love to you all.

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