Our Favorite French Toast

I’m a boring breakfast person. I usually eat a poached egg on toast with a cup of black coffee. Ernest almost always makes breakfast for me before he leaves to work, where he has an office with the most amazing views of the Seattle and surrounding areas.


On weekends, I usually feel like making breakfast. On Saturday or Sunday morning, I’m ready for a more sinful breakfast. The giant fluffy pancakes, patty sausages, crisp bacon, butter, syrup, hash browns, biscuits and gravy. You know, the breakfast so big you don’t feel hungry again until bedtime–kind of breakfast.

After a semi-disaster with my blackberry turnovers, I had quite a bit of the sweet cream cheese filling leftover. I decided to use it as part of my weekend morning breakfast, and it was a hit.

I made French toast the same way I usually do: French bread slices dipped in eggs with a dash of milk, that I beat together with a generous amount of cinnamon and sugar. Next I  fry egg soaked bread slices in small bit of oil.  Serve with butter, a light sprinkling of powdered sugar and hot Grade B maple syrup.

However, this time I omitted the cinnamon and sugar and only used the eggs.

After dipping the French bread slices into the beaten eggs, I pan-fried them in a light bit of oil, then I lay them on a baking rack, set over a baking sheet.  I served it with the  cream cheese filling leftover from the blackberry turnovers I posted here.  Wow!  I knew it would taste good, but I had no idea it was going to be the only way I ever want to eat French Toast again. Plus,I like the fact that there is now added protein from the cream cheese.  No butter or syrup needed. Seriously, you won’t miss it at all!


French Toast with sweet cream cheese, stuffed zucchini blossom, and bacon

It tastes like a cinnamon roll with cream cheese frosting. Next time I’ll add toasted chopped pecans.

Add few fresh berries or berries with a pinch of sugar,  and create another pop of flavor.

Here is the recipe for the sweet cream cheese spread:

Sweet Cream Cheese Spread for French Toast

4 ounces cream cheese (at room temperature)

1/4 cup of sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp vanilla (optional)

Mix together until well blended.  I recommend a using a mixer.

That’s it! Easy peasy.

The Dude loves this on French toast, regular toast, crackers, a spoon. He might love it a little too much.


Fried Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms and Weeping Blackberry Turnovers

After my day at the Edmonds Farmer’s Market I was excited to create something special out of the produce I picked up.

These days I rarely deep fry foods.  But after scoring the baby zucchini blossoms as I posted here, I knew what I had to do.   There are very few ingredients, but get ready for an amazing “Holy Mother of God!” moment when you bite into one of these babies.

The Dude couldn’t stop repeating a line I cannot repeat here, but I can say it starts with Holy but it doesn’t end with Mother of God.  No matter, I know him well enough to know it’s meant as the highest compliment to the cook.

I should also add that I am (was) not a fan of goat cheese at all. I tried it a few times, but it was just too goaty.   A few months ago, Ernest and I ordered stuffed zucchini blossoms as an appetizer at a local popular restaurant and I was scared knowing they were stuffed with goat cheese, but the server assured me they would not taste goaty. They had a hint of the taste of goat cheese, and I loved them. Then I started craving them. I was hesitant for fear mine would not taste as good as the restaurant’s.

I found a brand of Chevre  advertised as mild goat cheese, so I went with it. The recipe also uses cream cheese which I knew would balance it out.

These stuffed zucchini blossoms are not as difficult to make, as they may appear to be.


Fried Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

Print Recipe Here

Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis recipe

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup of sparkling water (do not use plain water)

3/4 tsp Kosher salt

1  1/2 ounces  goat cheese, at room temperature

2 ounces  Cream cheese, at room temperature

You should have approx 1/3 + cup of cheese combined

1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil

1 finely chopped scallion (green onion)

fresh ground pepper

6-8 zucchini blossoms

oil for frying (I used canola)

In a medium size bowl, mix the flour, sparkling water, and Kosher salt until smooth. Set aside.

In a smaller bowl, mix the cheeses, chopped basil and onion, and salt and pepper until smooth.

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, deep fryer, or Dutch-oven, pour enough oil to fill the pan about a third of the way. Heat over medium heat until oil reaches 350 degrees F.  I use a deep-frying thermometer.  Dip the stuffed zucchini blossoms in the batter and allow any excess batter to drip off.  Fry for 1 to 2 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown. Allow the cooked blossoms to drain on paper towels. I prefer to set them on a cooling rack that I place inside of a baking sheet lined with paper towels. That way they aren’t sitting in their own oil drippings.

Before adding more blossoms to the hot oil, make sure you allow the temperature of the oil to return to 350 degrees F.

NOTE:  I gently open petals of the blossoms with the tips of my fingers and turn them down to make it easier to fill. After I stuff, I gently lift the petals back into place and gently twist the tips together to hold in the filling. It gets messy, and don’t worry if a little cheese mixture is sneaking through.

…and now for the blackberries.


I also bought 4 half pints of jumbo blackberries. Berries are probably one of my favorite fruits.

The night before I went to the market, I had a dream about giant blackberries. In my dream they were the size of plums. When I saw the jumbo berries at the market, I figured I had to buy them or maybe I could be struck by lightning or break a hip. You never know, and I didn’t want to tempt fate.

The recipe I followed uses puff pastry cups. I couldn’t find them at my grocery store, and I was too lazy to go to another store, so I bought puff pastry sheets. Next time I will use the cups. Why?

Just take a gander at the photo below.



Granted they’re not purdy, but let me tell you brothers and sisters, these are the tastiest tarts I’ve ever eaten. Seriously, the filling is a sweetened cream cheese filling with blackberries. Unbelievably flavorful and almost too simple to make–if you don’t make the same mistakes I made. The moral to this story?  Don’t be lazy and don’t over stuff your pastry.     image

I had leftover filling because I didn’t use the two sheets of puff pastry. I came up with another idea of what to use it for.  It has changed my life forever. More on that tomorrow.


Thank you for reading my blog.  If you haven’t had a chance to watch this video, please do! Sean is an amazing talent. Click here for “Black and Blue For You”



My son Sean (Mark Sean) Movie Director

Edmonds, Washington Farmer’s Market


Goodies peeking out of the trunk of my car

I’m grateful to live in such a beautiful little town in Washington state.

Edmonds is my favorite town in western Washington.  Not just because I live here, but because it has an old-fashioned charm I can’t seem to find anyplace else.

Health freak that I am, I drove down to the waterside to take my morning walk along the beautiful Puget Sound. I didn’t get far before I started craving a doughnut. By not getting far, I mean, I parked my car and locked it.

I rarely eat doughnuts, but the Edmonds Bakery makes French Crullers every Saturday. My craving grew and grew until I finally surrendered and decided my hands were tied and I had no choice!

I practically pushed people out of my way to feast my eyes on my beloved crullers, only to discover they were not there! The young man behind the counter told me they will be finished in an hour.

An hour? By then I could waste away. Again, my hands were tied.

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An Old Fashioned glaze and a cup of coffee. The second best doughnut.

Looking out the bakery window I noticed a herd of people walking by. Then I remembered the farmer’s market is today.

The Saturday farmer’s market shuts down two streets. There are artists, farmers, and beautiful flowers. Conventional and organic fruits and veggies are weaved throughout the booths. Smoked salmon, homemade jams, fresh-baked breads, you name it, they’ve got it.

As you can see in the picture at the top of my post, I decided I would walk off my doughnut by shopping at the market. I picked up a bouquet of beautiful cut flowers for five dollars! A steal. I also bought half a dozen baby zucchini with their blossoms and four half pints fully loaded with giant blackberries. I hauled the bounty back to my car and walked the few blocks back to the market to pick up a beautiful loaf of sourdough bread.

I didn’t go shopping with a plan, as I find it rather fun to just pick out what appeals to my eye, haul it home and come up with a plan.

The zucchini blossoms will be stuffed with cheeses and herbs, then deep-fried until golden. I will serve them alongside the leftover angel hair pasta dish I made for dinner last night.

The blackberries will probably end up in a dessert I’ll make with store-bought frozen puff pastry. The sourdough bread simply heated, sliced and served with butter.


Ain’t she perty?

As shown, a beautiful bouquet of flowers will adorn the dinner table. I shouldn’t buy flowers, as I’m allergic, but I couldn’t resist. In a few days they will go out on the patio table and I will be able to breathe freely again.

I’ll update with recipes and photos of what I turn this week’s goodies into.

photo 2

Thank you for reading my blog.  If you haven’t had a chance to watch this video, please do! Sean is an amazing talent. Click here for “Black and Blue For You”



My son Sean (Mark Sean) Movie Director

Revamping my Space

mewineriverI’ve been thinking. I’m sure I think too much.

How are you?

I really miss blogging. I find that writing is one of things that keeps me passionate about living.

Passion is a good thing.

I am also creating a second blog. Maybe I’ll blend them at some point, but I’ll have to think some more.

I want to share the things that have helped me recreate my life in a way that is more fulfilling and less fear filled.

I know I’ve left everybody hanging after my last post. I guess I realized I needed to work through some more of my own stuff (always working through my stuff, but this was some real icky stuff!).

I fill notebook pages with stories about my life, journaling, venting, drawing, and, yes, recipes. I’d like to share.

Those are the things I like to read on blogs that I’m subscribed to. I always want to know what people are passionate about! What are their childhood stories? What made them who they are today? Where do they see themselves tomorrow?

We’re all in this game together.

I turned 50 in May. The photo was taken by the Dude (AKA my husband or my little Whippersnapper) while we were on vacation celebrating my surviving half a century. I tell him that one day he will be old and wise like me.

He has three more years to go.

strawberry rose

I leave you with this strawberry rose. I am practicing making fruit and veggie flowers, but so far, this is as good as gets.

Destination Unknown Part 2

Read Part 1 Here

In late September, a man emailed me from the dating site.  I looked at his profile and the first thing that caught my attention was a list I recognized. He had quoted “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz to describe what he believes is important in relationship:

“The Four Agreements”
1. Be impeccable with your word.
2. Don’t take anything personally.
3. Don’t make assumptions.
4. Always do your best.
― Miguel Ruiz

He also wrote about his two beautiful daughters and how important they are to him.   The photos he posted of himself on the dating site, showed a dark haired, tall athletic built man wearing dark sunglasses. In a second photo he was kneeling down and petting a little dog. I thought he was very handsome.  I can’t remember exactly what he had written in the email. I do remember he mentioned that, like me,  he was also a fan of David Sedaris. Shortly afterward he invited me to chat online. After a few days of brief chats, we exchanged phone numbers and started texting by mobile phone. He was new to texting, and responses were slow. I was too impatient to wait, so I asked him if he’d like to call me later.  He called me that evening.

He called at the exact time he told me he would. He told me his name is Ernest. I found it quite old-fashioned and charming. As soon as I heard his voice, my judgment slipped in, and I felt he probably wasn’t a match for me. He had a deep, somewhat monotone voice that reminded me of the young potheads I used to hang out with in my youth. I certainly didn’t want another relationship with a drug addict.

A friend of mine was also meeting men online. We would talk to each other about our experiences. We soon realized we couldn’t keep track of which man the other was talking about. We ended up using nicknames to describe the men we were meeting. There was The Short Guy, The Lawyer, Southern Drawl Guy, The Fisherman, etc. It was much easier to remember the men by naming something descriptive about them. Unfortunately, I called Ernest the “Stoner Voice Guy”. Later, I would learn he wasn’t stoned when he and I were talking.  However, he does have a distinct voice and style of speaking.

I also found out he had grown up in California, where he had been a surfer since he was four years old.

iphone 338

Ernest was kind and different from other men I had chatted with. He called regularly in the evenings. I really enjoyed our conversations. I noticed he had a rather advanced vocabulary. He was articulate and intelligent. He showed an interest in my day-to-day life and asked a lot of questions. I was curious as to how he was able to hold intelligent conversation when, presumably, he was high. He was extremely polite –never inappropriate. He made suggestions to help me deal with the chronic case of insomnia I had been suffering from. He also showed an interest in hypnotherapy, which I was studying at the time.

One Sunday morning, Ernest texted me while he was at a grocery store. In jest, I asked him to pick up a pineapple for me. He said he would. We agreed to meet that afternoon for lunch at a local cafe. I had to cancel shortly before lunch because my son and his wife had unexpectedly come for a visit. With the thirty year divorce shakeup in the family, I felt it was more important to spend time with my children. I cancelled, but I agreed to meet him at the same place for dinner that evening. The kids stayed much longer than I had anticipated, and we had such a lovely visit I wasn’t about to cut it short. Around 8:30 PM, the kids left and I noticed I had missed a few texts from Ernest. I texted an apology. He told me was getting ready for bed, as he had to get up early for work. I felt so bad, I told him that if he would like to come out, we could have a quick meetup. He agreed and we set out to meet at a local cafe.

I didn’t spend a lot of time primping for the meeting, as I felt quite sure this was not going to be a love connection. I enjoyed talking with Ernest, and I thought we could both use a good friend.

As I parked my car on the street in front of the cafe, a pair of headlights shone in my rear view mirror, as a car pulled in directly behind me. I had a feeling it was Ernest. I grabbed my purse and stepped out of the car, I looked up toward the curb and there he stood.

Ernest was tall with dark hair and sparkling blue-green eyes. He was looking down at me, with his million dollar smile. In hindsight, I believe I fell in love with him as soon as I saw him.

I found it so romantic that he actually brought me a pineapple. Later he would tell me how he had left the grocery store to go the natural foods store in order pick up an organic pineapple. He knew I was into cooking and he wanted to impress me.

I was impressed.

If ever there was such a thing as love at first sight, I was experiencing it in that moment. I find it very difficult to explain exactly how I was feeling. I was instantly drawn into his energy. When my eyes met his eyes I felt an immediate connection. It was like nothing I’d ever felt before. I wasn’t sure what was happening to me, but I knew I was completely taken aback by the strong attraction I felt for him. I can’t remember what I said at that point. I was completely smitten. I felt like a seventeen year old girl again. It was as though a spell had been cast, and I didn’t like it one bit. Falling in love wasn’t in the plan.

Inside the cafe, Ernest ordered fish and chips and I ordered scrambled eggs and hash browns. The waitress let us know that the cafe would be closing soon but that she would still serve us. I was disappointed that our meeting would now be cut short. After we ate, Ernest asked if I’d like to look for another place where we could continue our visit.  We agreed on a local pub down the street from the cafe. As we strolled down the street, he asked, “May I hold your hand?” He also offered me his jacket, as it was a chilly fall evening. He was a perfect gentleman. We walked to the pub and sat by the fireplace. We both ordered a cup of tea.

We talked for at least an hour. Noticing the time, we assumed the pub would be closing soon. Ernest asked if I’d like to catch the ferry to continue talking. I really didn’t want to ride the ferry. It was too brightly lit and chilly.  I thought long and hard about making a decision that would go against every bit of common sense I still had left. I believed he was safe.

I don’t recommend what I did next. It may be the most irresponsible thing I’ve ever done in my life. I told him that I live close by. I told him that he should not take it the wrong way as I was inviting him to my place because it was a warm and comfortable place to continue talking. I made sure he understood that I had never done anything like this before. I certainly did not want him to get the wrong idea. I told him I wasn’t that kind of girl (what does that even mean?). I knew my apartment would be warm and I had tea and cupcakes there. Yes, I said cupcakes. Yes, I’m that naive. He, of course, agreed. Maybe it was due to the fact that he had spent so much time pursuing me that somehow I intuitively felt he was safe. Again, don’t try this at home. It was like my brain had disengaged from the rest of my body.

Back at my place, I made tea and served them with the cupcakes. We sat on the sofa, drank tea, and talked some more. At one point, Ernest moved closer to me and gave me a kiss.

The next thing I remember were clothes, boots, and socks flying off, as passion took over.

At the critical moment, I asked, “Do you have protection?”

He said, “No, do you?”

“Uh, no. Why would I have condoms?”

Then, He said, “Well, I don’t carry condoms around with me, and I didn’t think this was going to happen”.

I guess I assumed all men carry condoms around for their frequent wild sexual escapades.

In hindsight I’m surprised I was more worried about catching a sexually transmitted disease than whether I had invited a murderer into my home. I may have lost my ever lovin’ mind that night, but I wasn’t completely crazy.

I thought for a minute and then said, “Well, I guess we can just talk some more.”

Ernest was already putting his boots back on. We were both back in our clothes and driving to the only open store in town.

I waited in the car while Ernest ran inside. As I sat waiting, I thought this is surely a sign from God. The Universe must be giving me time to think this whole thing through.

I imagined my mother’s voice in one ear warning me,  “He won’t respect you. You’ll never see him again. He only wants one thing!”.

In my other ear a little Betty Boop-like devil shouted, “Who cares about being the good girl? You’re not a girl, you’re a woman! You can do whatever you want to!” Boop was winning.

Just then Ernest jumped into the car. I threw caution to the wind. Let’s do this thing!

I was dizzy with passion and lust. But there was still that other indescribable thing. What was it? It wasn’t about just having a good time. There was something more happening that I didn’t quite understand. It felt as though an outside power was pulling me toward him. I could describe what I was feeling, but like most of my description here, it’s just a long list of clichés.

As we drove back to my place, we couldn’t stop laughing. We both knew how crazy it was. Two adults, behaving like teenagers.

I’ll leave the rest of the evening to the imagination.

After that evening we were inseparable. We wanted to be together all of the time. We were together every moment we could be.

The first few weeks we took turns cooking for one another. He still didn’t feel like a match for me. We both have strong opinions and Ernest proved himself to be a formidable opponent during arguments. We couldn’t help but notice how different we were from one another.

 In spite of our differences, the powerful draw to be together only became stronger.

Three weeks later, Ernest had gone to work and I was at my mother’s house having a cup of tea. Ernest and I had been texting one another back and forth earlier that morning. We both have a goofy sense of humor and the exchanges were light and flirtatious.

Little did we know how much our lives, especially Ernest’s life, were about to change forever.

In the early morning hours, a dark force had come in while we were sound asleep. What we believed had started as another typical day, was only an illusion. Those lighthearted exchanges and silly flirtations and the thrill of a new love, would soon be behind us and yet neither one of us had any idea.

The day-to-day problems that had seemed so important the day before, suddenly melted into nothingness.

My mobile phone rang as I was preparing to leave my mother’s house. It was Ernest.

“Anita, I need to see you.”

When I heard his voice, I knew something was different. You know that  sick feeling you get in the pit of your stomach?  It’s like a sense of impending doom. The panicky shaking feeling you get when you know bad news is coming? I had all of these feelings at once.

“Ernest, what’s wrong?”

His tone was serious.

As he spoke, his voice cracked, “Anita, my daughter was murdered last night.”

I still remember that moment. For one split second, I wondered if maybe he was crazy. My initial thought was, “This can’t be real.”

It was so much to take in at once.  I had taken call  in my parent’s home office. Through the glass doors of their office I could see my mother and step-father oblivious to what had happened. They were laughing and talking to one another. Just a few moments ago, I was on the other side of that door oblivious and laughing with them. It took me a moment to grasp the gravity of what I was hearing. How can something this horrific have happened?

The pain I felt for Ernest was overwhelming. I was shaking. Somehow I managed to talk in a calm voice. It was as though something was speaking for me. I can’t remember my exact words, but I let him know I was there for him.

He asked me to meet him at my apartment.

Three weeks after Ernest and I met, his beautiful nineteen year old daughter, Scarlett, was murdered.

While walking home to her apartment, Scarlett was attacked by a young male wielding a butcher knife. She suffered several stab wounds, including the fatal stab to her neck. The attack was brutal. She did not know her attacker.

Scarlett was young and had just set out on her own five months prior to the attack.

Her boyfriend returned later to find her lying unconscious on the apartment landing, in a pool of blood. He called 911 for help and began CPR, but it was too late.

I have never lost a child, so I can only speak of what I’ve been told and from what I’ve observed. If you’ve ever loved somebody who has lost their child, you know the intense pain that can only be known to the parent himself.  The lives of the family are changed forever. Forever. You never get over losing a child, you just have to live with it.

The pain is multiplied by the immediate unanswered questions.  How did this happen? Who did this? Why? How badly did she suffer?

That evening when Ernest came to my apartment, he looked like a different man. There was nothing I could say more than how sorry I was. I listened. He was obviously in shock. I just listened to anything he said. I held him while he cried. I sat beside him as members of his family called. I held his hand as he spoke to the victim’s activist. He could only take a few steps before he would drop over and weep. I didn’t think he was going to survive. The victim’s advocate told me he shouldn’t be left alone. I helped him into the bath and bathed him. He was obviously in shock. He cried. It wasn’t like any crying I had ever heard before. It was a guttural cry. It scared me. Afterward we sat on my sofa in the dark until it became so late he fell asleep. I covered him and sat beside him the rest of the night.  I will never forget the darkness in the room that evening.

Hours turned into days, days into weeks, and weeks into months of wildly swinging emotions.

I had no idea the challenges that were still ahead.

My First Paleo Run


Giovanni and his mama

First of all, to those who have been asking, Part 2 of my personal story, Destination Unknown, is almost finished.

I want to talk about why I’ve been busy. This past week I have been experimenting with the popular Paleo Diet.  I’m not one to follow fad diets, but I do like the idea of healthy eating.

I visited Third Place Books to see the author, Danielle Walker , speak about her new book, “Against All Grain, Meals Made Simple”.  I’d like to start by saying,  Danielle Walker has a wealth of information on grain free eating.  Obviously, I only have my two cents. This is the perfect book for people who want to learn how to start their grain-free diet.  As a sidebar, Danielle is drop dead gorgeous. She is also as sweet as pie. Of course the pie would be sweetened with maple syrup, honey, or coconut crystals, as she has a health issue which requires her to give up the grains. My curiosity was piqued when learning that this diet is also good for people with Hashimoto’s Disease. I have Hashimoto’s. I also have tummy problems, and end up in some degree of suffering several  evenings around dinner time.

I bought her book and followed her first week’s worth of grocery shopping – which was a lot of work. It wasn’t simple for me. She does make this as easy as possible by providing 8 weeks worth of menus and grocery lists, complete with copies and perforated edges to tear out of the book.  But make no mistake, changing how you cook and bake requires some work.

I shopped at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, plus I had to order a five-pound bag of blanched almond flour from Amazon ($40!).  Grass fed, pastured, organic, etc.  By now, if you know anything about food and diet, you know the drill for Paleo. If you don’t, you can check it out here. It is expensive, but minus the grains, it wasn’t as crazy expensive as I thought it would be–thank you Trader Joe’s.

photoABOVE: Produce for my week

I’ve only followed Walker’s menu plan for the last three days, so this is in no way a well-studied review.

After three days, I noticed something that concerns me. I don’t think I’m eating enough. I lose my appetite. The thought of another bite of pork, beef, coconut oil, egg, and even the damned pile of vegetables simply makes me feel sick. I didn’t eat dinner two nights in a row. I had a few bites and found the foods too heavy. This morning, after making paleo pancakes, I just had to stop with the recipes. Maybe it’s all of the fiber filling me up. Two days ago, I ate a good breakfast: egg, paleo wrap, slice bacon, light sprinkling of feta and a dab of pesto.  Then I took my parents out to lunch for my mother’s birthday, and I couldn’t eat. That evening,  I couldn’t eat the dinner that had been cooking all day in the crock pot. I did, however, manage to put down a glass of wine and half a coconut ice cream bar. Yesterday, I ate some of the leftover dinner in a wrap –not too much, just a quarter of a cup–for breakfast. I went to meet a girlfriend for lunch and managed to eat two slivers of chicken. At dinner time I ate two bites of the pork roast and a few bites of the spinach. I had a glass of wine and three paleo chocolate chip cookies (I like dessert). The end. Stuffed.


Paleo Wraps- not bad


ABOVE: Creating my own breakfast burrito (wrap, egg, bacon, pesto, feta)


I’ve found the recipes (from the few meals I’ve cooked) too time consuming. I am not going to spend the rest of my life in a kitchen dicing, slicing, julienning, etc. Plus, cooking chopping and browning meats and vegetables in the mornings to get the crock pot started and then returning home to do more of the same? No thank you. Been there, done that. I enjoy doing more than cooking and baking these days.

The upside? No tummy ache in three days. This is huge. Coincidence? Maybe.

I’m happy I bought the book. Danielle Walker gives all of the basics and I believe I have enough experience in the kitchen to understand how to convert my own recipes. Basically, I just need to drop the grains.

Breakfast can consist of hash browned yams, eggs, and bacon. Quiche is another option–especially for me as I don’t think I have a problem with dairy. Lunch can always be leftover dinner.  Dinners? A great grilled salmon with basil and lemon and a side of riced cauliflower and sautéed chard. Simple. Done. How about roasted chicken with a huge salad or asparagus and baked sweet potato fries? Done and done.

I am in love with the idea of pasture and grass-fed,  organic is awesome too. The expensive almond flour? Totally worth it. I think it makes great baked goods. I’ll keep that part up. Here is a link to Ms Walker’s chocolate chip cookies. Mmm, they’re so darn good. I added chopped pecans and an extra chunk of dark chocolate to the tops before baking. It’s nice to know I’m eating a cooking that isn’t filled with empty calories. I apologize for the photos below, but I was in a hurry to eat a cookie.

 IMG_1277ABOVE: As you can see, I got lazy and just started sticking pieces of dark chocolate into the center of the cookies

I still have the remaining ingredients for the remaining week’s recipes, but I will cook them following my own recipes. I believe Ms Walker’s intent on creating this cookbook was to create a guideline for those interested in Paleo, and as far as I’m concerned,she has succeeded.

Update: I made the  pancake recipe from Danielle’s cookbook this morning and I’m sorry to report, I don’t like them–nor does my husband. I’ll have to try something else.

“Destination Unknown” Part 1


It’s crazy when I think about how many times I’ve sat down to write a new blog entry, only to find myself overwhelmed with all of the things I have to say. So much has happened. The longer I put it off, the more overwhelming the process becomes. Today I’ve made the commitment to write something. Anything.

The past four years of my life have proven to be life changing. Extremely life changing. I’m talking about 180 degree change.

As a blogger, I wrote about my family, the foods I cooked, the gardens, the chickens, photography, and other little tidbits about domestic life. I believe I used those things to hyper-focus on the good things I enjoy, versus writing about the pain, the dysfunction, and failure of my marriage.

The truth is, I didn’t even dream about a better life. I thought I was stuck. As things became harder to bare, the day finally came when I realized I had no choice but to get out of that marriage. It wasn’t really a marriage at all. It was familiar to me, as I was raised in an extremely dysfunctional family. I finally graduated from that level of dysfunction. The ship was going down, and I wasn’t about to sink with it.

I packed a small suitcase, picked up Giovanni and left. I had no money, no job, and I had several health problems. Anything was better than where I was at. I didn’t even look back at the gardens, the chickens, the house, or the perceived security. Nothing was worth giving up anymore time from my life. I had already given close to thirty years. I knew I’d be better off living under a bridge than staying in a sick relationship.

Fast forward four years and here I am happily remarried, healing my heart, and connecting to my spirit more than ever before.

The journey getting to this place has been quite a roller coaster ride. I suppose life is a roller coaster ride, but this roller coaster seemed to have extra steep ups and downs. It was all worth it. I’m continuing my journey, and I’m sure there will be more ups and downs, but at least it’s in motion and I’m moving forward.

In the past year, I was diagnosed with ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Although a few doctors insist I don’t have ADHD, I have PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder). I don’t know about these labels, but I will say, the diagnosis has given me a great place to start in seeking solutions for the issues that arise in my life that keep me from accomplishing the goals I’ve set for my future.

Using tools and techniques designed to help people with both ADHD and PTSD has proven beneficial for me. I became a registered hypnotherapist during the time I was ending my marriage. I took a course offered through a highly respectable University of natural health, located here in Washington state. I still continue studying hypnotherapy and NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming) through a reputable program offered by an expert in both hypnosis and NLP.

The fear of leaving the marriage was intense. I felt guilty for all of the wrong reasons. A brief session of hypnotherapy and NLP made it possible for me to leave and keep moving forward and away from my ex-husband. Addiction to relationship is real — for your brain. Maybe it’s better to say the brain can be tricked into believing it’s real. Thankfully, a trusted family member told me, it served no purpose for me to feel guilty about leaving a person who keeps hurting me. He added, “It is better to have one sick person than two.” That was one of the key lines that helped me to drop the guilt immediately. As the smoke cleared, I was able to understand that some people choose to live in darkness. I also learned how we can be manipulated into feeling sorry for people who play the victim.

By the way, it only took one session, by phone, to give me the courage to move and never look back.

It was as though I was living with my head in the sand. I have helped many people with their relationships, but I still avoided the messages “Upstairs” was sending to me. Once I was journaling on the beach, and I asked why I was experiencing such a devastating depression. I clearly heard, “You need to leave your marriage!” I asked again, because I was sure that couldn’t be the answer. Again I heard, “Leave now!” It would be a few months later that I had the hypnotherapy that allowed me to do that. Throughout my ex’s threats of suicide and abandoning me financially,  I kept moving forward.

I was lucky enough to have the court order maintenance support which helped me to live in an apartment for a few months. Of course, dishonorable people do not do what they are court ordered- at least not when they believe they’re not benefiting from doing the right thing. That part was predictable. I still didn’t go back. I trusted in the Universe, and through the help of good friends and family I stumbled through the first year intact, and I have some beautiful memories of that time period.

Sure there were hard times. There were plenty of hard times. I have a tumor-like cyst in  my spinal nerve (benign) that causes me a lot of pain. Then about a year after I left, I was t-boned by a car that ran a red light. The accident totaled my treasured old Oldsmobile and left me pretty beat up. I now had to deal with shoulder tears, neck damage, numbness in my arms and hands, and a hoarse voice due to vocal cord impingement.

I ended up having to find ways to survive. Standing in line at food banks is a humbling experience. I was frightened. I’d stand in lines looking at what was being offered, remembering the times I had donated to these organizations. It felt surreal. I also thought of all of the food I’d prepared and shared on my blog. I was certainly grateful I knew how to cook. On one visit to the local food bank, an elderly male volunteer asked me if I wanted an oxtail. Apparently nobody wanted it, and he was trying to find a taker. I was so excited. A few people around me looked at me like I was nuts, but I knew how good the oxtail stew was going to taste for dinner that night! In food lines you take what you can get and you’re grateful for it. Apples, old and bruised? I made applesauce. I learned the difference between “use by” and “best if used by” dates. I don’t know if it’s because I live in the great Northwest, but there was always enough food. I got a little tired of rice and beans, but at least I knew how to cook them to make them flavorful. Growing up poor has its benefits.

Throughout all of the frightening experiences, I met a man, and I fell in love.

Our happiness was short-lived….

It’s hard to write about any of this, but he has encouraged me to tell our story.

To be continued in Part 2

..you didn’t really believe it was all about the food, did you?

Deception Pass

Deception Pass

First of all, I’d like to welcome my new subscribers!  I have been absent for a long time, but it is always heart warming to see new people visiting and checking out my blog.

I’m so excited to be starting a new chapter in my life.  The past three years have been challenging, but I’m a survivor.  I’m a “gypsy”, and we gypsy types, laugh in the face of change.  Okay, maybe we don’t actually laugh out loud, we laugh inside whilst grimacing.  Let me just say this, we know that change is inevitable.

It was not easy to leave my thirty year marriage.  Having been a homemaker, stay at home mother, and homeschool mom,  I’ve had to deal with the realities of being a single unemployed forty-eight  year old woman, with no “marketable” skills and serious health issues.

I left my home with a roll-a-way, aqua colored, suitcase and my little dog ,Giovanni.  I didn’t think about my lack of skills, the physical pain, the probable loss of my health insurance,  not having enough money to eat, or the long, humbling food bank lines.

For the first time in thirty years, I refused to see my ex’s well-being as more important than my own.

I stopped questioning the Universe.  The message was clear, “Leave now!” 

Not only was the message clear, the voice was loud, and I knew the voice was from the deepest part of me, and it did not waver.  The message was  from my spirit. Leaving was necessary for my survival.

I grabbed a few of my personal belongings:  my favorite dresses, my  boots, makeup, hot rollers, prescription medications, hypnotherapy books, tarot cards, a few protein bars, and Giovanni.  I loaded it all into my Oldsmobile, and drove away.

I was was finally free.

Challenges followed.  Challenges are still ahead of me. 

Yet, I’m still here.  The Universe has held me up. 

Life is better.

Switching gears now,  my son, is in graduate school, on the other side of the country!  He will be visiting for Thanksgiving, and I can’t wait!  It’s been close to a year since I last saw him.  I visited New York City with my boyfriend (sounds weird to call him a “boy”friend, considering we are both in our forties!), and although I was born and lived, on and off, in Upstate New York, I’d never been to the big city.  It was, as you might imagine– unless you’ve visited or you live there, then of course it wouldn’t make sense that you’d have to imagine–   crowded, to say the least.  Tall buildings, loud, subways, taxis , shopping, and food!  I love New York, I really do, but I’m happy he will be in Seattle for Thanksgiving.   

I don’t cook as much as I used to, but this Thanksgiving, I will have help (manfriend), and I’m not going to be the crazy perfectionist I used to be.  I want to enjoy my time with family and friends.  That said, there will be food, and lots of it.

Happy Holidays! 

New York City

New York City