HOW I COOK—Rule #1: Marinate the Chef



I decided to share some of my own personal cooking quirks in a series I call “How I Cook.”  Now this first one is just silliness and is absolutely not true MOST of the time. But when I am cooking for or with other people, it just puts an extra spring in my step, motivates and inspires me if I’m sipping a little wine or a dirty martini while chopping veggies or toasting spices.

To see more of my personal cooking rules, follow me on Instagram!  And please, PLEASE share your rules with us as well!  Comment below… don’t be shy!


Avocado and Brown Rice Finger Rolls

finger rolls

What a perfect snack for a cleanse! But first things first… I owe you an apology, my friend.

I have not been here for you. Days and weeks have gone by without a peep from me. While I could easily just move ahead and act like nothing happened (and that might even be expected), did I not mention that honesty is the only way?

I won’t offer an explanation because quite frankly, that information is personal. But I will say this: sometimes when life happens, it seriously HAPPENS—the hectic, the mundane, heartbreaking, the lovely, the wonderful, the tragic, the downright crazy. But that’s all behind us now (er… mostly).

And you know what else is behind me? The first two weeks of my seasonal cleanse. The third week is also well along its way. More on the cleanse later. For now, I want to share this oh-so-perfect sunny afternoon snack with you. These creamy, light, crisp treats are healthy and delicious, and they are just salty enough for a hot-day sodium craving (you know the one).  I call them “Finger Rolls” because they aren’t quite big enough to hold in a hand.  Just pinch one in your fingers, give it a gentle little dip in some Bragg’s…

finger roll 4

and pop it into your mouth in one huge bite!

finger roll5

How to make Avocado and Brown Rice Finger Rolls:

  • 1 individual package roasted seaweed snacks
  • short grain brown rice, cooked and cooled to room temp (you will use about 9-10 tsp)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 just ripe avocado, cubed
  • Bragg Liquid Aminos
  • *toasted sesame oil (optional)

First make the dipping sauce by combining about 1/2 teaspoon Bragg’s with about 1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil.  (Since I’m cleansing now I skipped the oil). Lay out the seaweed sheets on a platter or board. Spoon about 1 teaspoonful of rice in the center of each sheet. The rice should be a bit sticky but not too moist.  Top with about the same amount of cubed avocado.  Pinch, Dip, and enjoy!

Note: These finger rolls should be eaten immediately or the moisture from the rice will cause the seaweed to fall apart.

finger roll2



Oh, the Places I’ve Been!


Portland Aerial Tram

view from the “flying car,” @PortlandTram. my sister’s photo.

Yes, I’ve been away.  I got to visit all the best places and people.  I got to meet my brand new nephew and hang out with my 2-year-old protégé. It was fabulous. I can’t wait to tell you about it!

grandmass birthplace

grandma’s birthplace


orchard in grandma’s hometown

Oh, the People I’ve Seen!


my favorite tiny princess fingers and toes

I had such high hopes.  So many plans and ideas. I was going to bring you with me on this journey.  So what happened?  Well, I DID do most of the things I had set out to do on this trip, and I photographed all of it.  But it AMAZES ME how completely impossible it is to sit down for some peace and quiet with a laptop when toddlers and babies are in the house.  It also amazes me how COMPLETELY SAPPED of energy a person is at the end of a day with said little people. When I nannied and babysat as a teenager I had hours of boredom even after cleaning, finishing my homework, and watching a few episodes on Food Network.  What happened?  And how do parents do this full-time?  Oh, did I mention that I was the third adult in this house?  I feel like an incredibly inferior human right about now. Maybe 30 really does mean something…


grandma’s neighborhood bunny


…and the brand new baby prince!

Oh, the Things I’ve Discovered!

fancy sugar for your coffee?

fancy sugar for your coffee anyone?

cactus flower

daddy’s cactus flower







Not to worry.  All of the recipes and posts I dreamed up will be coming your way very shortly!


The old and the new… can you guess which is which?



El Yogurt Place

El Yogurt Place


Hello my people!

What a wonderful day! What fabulous weather! What a great breakfast treat! I hope you all had a day as awesome as mine! And that’s a pretty tall order considering how totally AMAZING this day was.

Today a very good friend of mine treated me to breakfast at one of my favorite restaurants here in Playas: El Yogurt Place. Everything they serve at El Yogurt Place is 100% natural, made fresh, as healthy as possible, and seasoned with just a few natural herbs and spices. Instead of your typical salt and pepper shakers on each table, you will find a shaker of Vege-Sal (known in the USA as “Spike”). They bring a basket of toast to each table with butter and a delicious pumpkin spread (which I will be replicating in the near future… I could seriously eat this on everything… including a spoon… every day). Many meals are served with a choice of about a third or half of a perfectly-ripe avocado (pictured), a cup of natural beans, or a generous serving of sauteed nopales (known in parts of the United States as prickly pear).  Oksana ordered a large agua de fresa and the turkey melt, with sauteed onions and bell peppers and thick-sliced smoked turkey breast, all melted into toasted bread with a layer of deliciously gooey cheese.  I opted for my favorite (not-so-healthy) Mexican breakfast: chilaquiles verdes con pollo.


Chilaquiles is not an everyday Honest Oats kind of breakfast. Chilaquiles warrants a special occasion, a lazy brunch, or a weekday outing with your young and fabulous red-headed kindred spirit. This delicious meal consists of a plateful of piping hot totopos (fresh corn tortillas cut and fried   not your typical “tortilla chips”) and shredded chicken, drenched in warm, tangy, tomatillo salsa, sprinkled generously with crumbled queso cotija (a salty, pungent dry Mexican cheese), then piled high with fresh mixed greens and topped with a double-portion of thick sour cream.  Mmmm yum!  Just shake some of that Vege-Sal on there, cut into my avocado, and I’m good to go!  As if that wasn’t just perfect on its own, I also enjoyed a refreshing glass of all-natural fresh-squeezed pink grapefruit juice, included with the meal.  Man, oh man do I love this place!

El Yogurt Place has everything going for it   friendly wait staff, healthy and natural DELICIOUS food and drinks (aside from the fried chips and sour cream, of course. I think I ordered the fattiest plate on the menu. But oh, so good), and spectacular views!  Aside from the full restaurant they also have a juice bar and pastry counter, a small natural products store, and an eclectic coffee shop.  Not enough for ya?  Then you’ll love to know they have many vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options as well.  In fact, even if you’re not on any special diet, you might still order one of these options just because they’re so dang tasty! Who needs bread at every meal anyway? Not me! Not the people of Mexico! If you’re in Playas or you ever make the trip south of the border, you’ve got to visit El Yogurt Place for a nutritious, delicious breakfast or lunch.

The atmosphere at El Yogurt Place is cozy and classy, and if you’re extra special you might just get a friendly “hello” from the resident cat. This place is the bees knees!

El Yogurt Place Pumpkin Spread

photos captured by the lovely oksana paulette young

Speaking of bees… I can’t wait to get together my “Honestly Healthy” post all about bee pollen for you!  Soon…. very soon….


Honest Oats


Honesty is of prime importance to me.  Also, I don’t know how not to be completely honest.

In the previous (and my very first) post, I shared with you my age, calling it “relevant.” Perhaps much more relevant to an introduction would be details such as where I live, where I come from, where I am going.

Well, I haven’t been “all over” the way many people in the blogging community have been “all over,” but I have certainly been ALL OVER in a way that most people in my hometown never have and never will.  So from my own minuscule perspective, I have been all over.  I grew up in a small rural county on the northern Oregon coast and headed over the Coast Range and out into the world the moment I was legally “an adult.” Since then I have lived all over Portland-metro suburbia, Huntington Beach, and northern Baja Californa, Mexico. While I do love it in my current seaside home of Playas de Tijuana, I find myself missing family and friends from Oregon, Huntington Beach, and down the Baja coast terribly.   And here’s the thing   whenever we catch up, it’s always the same story with me:

“Things are finally seeming to come together!” (with unbridled enthusiasm) OR “Honestly, everything is falling apart.” (in embarrassed despair).

It took until I turned 30 (in a foreign country, as an ESL instructor) to really stop and reflect on these all-too-common idioms of the English language.  What “things” are “coming together,” and why is this perpetually in the progressive tense?  What is it that is “falling apart?”  Why do these “things” need to be together?  How do we achieve this?  If I type these two phrases into Google and search for images, will I turn up any results?  Is there really any tangible way to define these terms?

I’ve decided that people don’t actually have “it” together.  I’ve decided that “it” is boring and I want no part of it.  I’ve decided that “it” is code for the lies and deception with which adult humans display their lives to the outside world.  So I offer to you only my honesty   my musings, my tidbits of wisdom, the crumbs of indulgence of my life: 100% APART.


How to make my Honest Oats:

  • 1/4 cup quick oats   I use these gluten-free oats (they are super creamy!) but you can use any you’d like
  • 1/2 medium apple or 1 small apple, diced into chunks
  • 12 whole raw almonds
  • 1 tablespoon whole roasted flax seeds
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds


  • 1 teaspoon bee pollen¹
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • 1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil
  • pinch of Celtic sea salt
  • handful of fresh or frozen blueberries

Put the first 10 ingredients in a bowl and pour boiling water over for desired consistency. Let sit 2 minutes. Stir and top with blueberries… Done!

I may be Honestly APART, but that doesn’t mean I can’t start my day right with these nutrient-packed, energy-packed Honest Oats.  The whole process is less than 10 minutes (I usually start it the night before even so). The beautiful golden yellow color of these oats is from the dissolved bee pollen, which adds a floral complexity to this simple little breakfast.  The crunch of the mixed-in whole almonds forces me to slow down, giving me time to meditate before starting my day and jump-starting my digestion (which begins in the mouth). The chia seeds and coconut oil make me feel full and satisfied (No sudden empty pit two hours later, like I get with plain oatmeal). My Honest Oats give me all the best things needed to start a busy day: a circulation boost, digestion boost, brain boost, heart boost, immunity boost, energy boost, protein, and both soluble and insoluble fiber,  just to name a few!  I can’t wait to share “Honestly Healthy” with you, a series in which I will discuss some of the health benefits of these and other yummy ingredients.  My first installment will be “Honestly Healthy: Bee Pollen.” (However, I encourage you to do your own research.)

¹Be careful with bee pollen if you have never used it, especially if you are prone to allergies.  Never use bee pollen if you are pregnant or nursing.  I am not a certified nutritionist nor am I a doctor, and I am definitely not your doctor, so always do your own research. I will do my best to point you to some good sources to get a balanced picture.


These oats are quick, easy, and packed with nutrients to start a busy day right. Oh, and I almost forgot…. They are absolutely scrumptious!


no big deal

I have delayed starting this blog for the sole reason that I could not think of the perfect title.

Titling is so daunting.  So permanent.  The problem I have with titling is twofold.  First, how to sum up the complexity and simplicity of my musings and intentions in just a few words–a catchy phrase but not cheap, something thoughtful, artful, memorable, easy to spell, easy to find, and not taken? The solution–choose a single word.  Phrases are so limiting, restricting.

Second: What are my musings? What are my intentions?

In the creative world, most are likely familiar with the handy term, “working title.”  The “working title” has always been my best friend because I have constantly struggled with knowing just what it is I am trying to say until once I have said it.  In the internet world, this luxury is just not possible.

So the questions remain, what am I really? and what am I trying to convey, and why, and to whom?

The first thing you would not expect to hear in a personal introduction is age.  However, allow me to quite relevantly reveal to you that I am thirty years old.  It took me over half of my thirtieth year of life to discover exactly what it means to be “a woman in her 30s.”  I didn’t even know that this was a thing, until I started seeing advertisements, reprints, and knock-offs of this book, which is really just a silly list.  Now wait, don’t read the silly list.  I have all the insight right here on what it means to be  “a woman in her 30’s.”  Are you ready?


 it means absolutely nothing.


When I was 28 and 29 some friends asked me on occasion what it would feel like to turn 30, and the thought did not frighten me.  “It’s just a number,” I told myself.  In fact, a year-and-a-half ago I was already telling people that I was “basically 30” and I felt as though 29 were a wasted year.  When the day came, I can’t say that it went exactly as I’d imagined.  I also don’t think I had any of the stereotypical reactions (whatever those are).   When I turned 30, I had two simultaneous thoughts:  How did this happen so fast? And I’m now 100% adult.  There are no more excuses.  I need to get it together.

Wait a second.  Hold it right there.  This is when my logical, analytical objectivity comes in: What does it mean to “have it together,” anyways?

Does “it” even exist?  Or is “it” all about appearances?  Do I even want that???


…and thus I maintain the opinion I held long before ever arriving at 30:

It really is no big deal.



It’s so nice to meet you.  I can’t wait to start cooking together!