Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ready For Prime Time

The last relationship I was in began the month before I turned 30. He used to joke that I “just barely made the cutoff” because there’s a well-known joke that men don’t date women over 30. In fact, here’s some OKCupid graphs that represent this backed up by data from their own website:

Sad, isn’t it?

I recently saw this video titled the Hot Crazy Matrix in reference to women guys should let into the "wife zone." Yes, it was super objectifying and generalizing. He also did a matrix about men for women and basically said past a certain income point, it doesn’t matter how a guy looks. TL;DR point being, women are crazy and only interested in money. So let me get this straight…because I’m a woman, I’m crazy, only interested in a guy who has a shit ton of money, and is tall?

Hm. Alrighty then.

I have always marched to the beat of my own drummer, and I’m just beginning to understand how awesome this is. I make my own money and have a kickass career. I wear heels that make me 5’6” instead of 5’2”, and though she be but small, she be fierce. I may 33 and past my "expiration date" (bwahahaa!) but am just coming into my prime. I handle my business; I work on my shit. I piled up my baggage and set it on fire (oops, guess that's where the crazy shows), leaving it in the past where it belongs. Today I look and feel like a million bucks. I’m happier and healthier today at 33 than I was at 22, and a hell of a lot less na├»ve. And because of that, a hell of a lot more fun too.

I’m not buying into the data says I’m past my prime because this soul is ready for prime time.

And I can’t wait for him to show up and shatter the stereotypes with me.

/drops mic

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Lasagna without Tomatoes or Dairy

I made a tomato-free, dairy-free lasagna and it didn't suck.

Back in 2010 when I had bacterial meningitis, I had antibiotics so powerful that they changed the bacterial composition of my body. Before I got sick I used to joke that I was a goat and had a gut of steel. I could eat almost anything and never had an issue.

Shortly after getting out of the hospital, I started having major reactions to food. Over time I figured out that it was dairy, tomatoes, and peppers I had issues with (that list also includes mushrooms, blueberries, and cauliflower). I could no longer eat pizza, my favorite food. It was the end of an era.


When I get home from work the first thing I do it turn on my computer and TV to veg for a little while. I usually watch The Pioneer Woman on Food Network, and I can't eat anything she makes because so much dairy and tomatoes and all the bad things that make me feel sick. But I'm obsessed with cooking and love to watch her cook, so I do.

I recently watched her make lasagna roll ups and I couldn't get them out of my mind. I haven't craved anything with tomatoes and cheese for a long time, but this was calling me. So I set about figuring out how to make a tomato and dairy free lasagna.

This is about 3 hours of cooking, but the results are beyond worth it.

1. Nomato Sauce

Notes: Using a mandolin makes for easier dicing. Plus the smaller you cut the dice, the faster it will cook.

Prep time 35 minutes
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 1 hour 5 minutes

6 carrots, peeled and diced
1 small beet, peeled and diced
1 large red onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 bay leaf, whole
1/4 cup lemon juice (about one lemon's worth)
3/4 cup water (adjust up if you don't have a 1/4 cup of lemon juice)
1/2 cup chicken stock
3/4 to 1 tsp citric acid (available in the canning section of your local grocery store)

Cook in large pot until everything is soft enough to blend, about 20-30 minutes. Add all ingredients to blender. Add citric acid. Blend until smooth, adding more chicken stock to get right consistency. In my opinion, the sauce should be slightly loose and pourable.

Recipe adapted from here

2. Tofu ricotta (start once nomato sauce is cooking, and start boiling water for lasagna noodles while waiting for tofu ricotta to drain)

Hands On Time 5 minutes
Wait time 40 minutes
Total time 45 minutes

1 container extra firm tofu (about 14 oz)
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp basil (I used dried)
1 tsp oregano (I used dried)
1 tsp salt
1 egg

Drain tofu by cutting open and draining package. Layer paper towels and put them on cutting board. Set tofu block on top of paper towels. Layer more paper towels on top of tofu block and place a plate on top of that. Then add 1-2 cans of canned goods on top to provide weight. After 20 minutes, swap with fresh paper towels and wait another 10-15 minutes. Cut tofu into smaller pieces and add to food processor with all ingredients and combine. Adjust salt to taste.

Note: I might throw another egg in this next time.

Recipe adapted from here

3. Cook lasagna noodles, drain, lay flat on aluminum foil so they retain their shape. This can be done concurrently while the tofu is draining/meat is browning.

4. Meat sauce (start once nomato sauce and tofu ricotta are done)

Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 15-20 minutes
Total time 20-25 minutes

1 lb ground beef (I used 85/15)
1 white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil

Update: I totally added parsley and some other spices (oregano? garlic powder? basil? I don't really remember).

Saute garlic and onion in olive oil in a skillet on medium high heat. Cook until translucent but before garlic starts to brown. Add meat, brown. I didn't drain because I like all the goodness and it wasn't overly wet or fatty with the 85/15 mix.

5. Assembly

Because I wanted to make the lasagna roll ups like Ree Drummond from The Pioneer Woman, I cleaned off a section of my apartment counter so I could take pictures for you.

I added 3 large dollops (a technical term) of the nomato sauce to the meat sauce until it was the texture/consistency I wanted. There is no need to cook this anymore, just mix them together. I also added salt to the sauce, tasting with each addition until it was just right. I made sure ALL of my ingredients were salted this way. Not too much, not too little.

I layered the bottom of 3 mini loaf pans with some of the meat sauce, and then started adding the tofu ricotta mixture to the lasagna noodles. Then I rolled them up and put them 4 to a pan.

Then I added another layer of the meat sauce. Once the assembly was done, I added my favorite non-dairy cheese alternative, Vegan Gourmet Shreds Mozarella, to the top.

I baked one of them in the oven at 375F for 20 minutes for dinner, and finished it off by broiling for a few minutes so the shreds would melt on top. They started browning instead. That happens sometimes.

Believe it or not, this actually tasted like lasagna. I couldn't believe it myself. I'd seen that nomato sauce recipe before and thought it was too good to be true. After trying it for myself, I can tell you it's perfect.

Next time I'll double the recipe and make 6 mini loaf pans and freeze the rest. Ree says when cooking from frozen, cover with foil and cook at 350F for 30 minutes, then uncover and cook another 10-15 minutes.

Overall, this is a total win and I can't wait to see what else I can do with that nomato sauce! I have 2 freezer jars worth of leftovers.

Pizza I am coming for you.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Dirtbag Foreclosure Rental House + Fun News

In the last week I've reached my breaking point with my apartment. Last week, I thought some kids were going to rail this chick behind my house and I was two steps from flinging open my back door and chasing them off with a broom like cats in heat but it turns out she was just selling them drugs. Kids these days, amirite? Then I've been particularly jumpy as my "backyard" is a public thoroughfare and people walk within feet of where I sit in my apartment. My crackhead neighbor and her son never moved, even though their lease was up and she told me they were moving. Although the cops/paramedics haven't been here for a while. Upside. And finally, another neighbor parked so far over the line between our covered parking spots that I can barely access my truck. FOR THE LAST 4 DAYS.

Photographic evidence:

So after all this I decided to rent a house. Why don't you buy one, you ask? Long story short. Kinda.

In late 2009 I started getting divorced and it only took the bank, oh, like 16 months or something crazy to actually foreclose upon the house (my divorce was final before the foreclosure). Yeah yeah foreclosure I'm a dirtbag and all that jazz. Moving on. So my actual foreclosure date wasn't until March 2011 or something like that.

Because so many people were being foreclosed upon/short selling their homes because the economy sucked because the banks fucked people over, lenders relaxed standards for a few years. "Economic stimulus!" they cried. Traditionally, you'd have to wait 4 years before being able to buy a home if you short sold a previous home, and 7 years if you had a foreclosure. Them was the rules for a long time. I think that was shortened to 2 and 4 or 5 years, respectively, after the crash and recession to spur people to buy again. A friend of mine just bought a house and the lending standards changed as she was in escrow. Apparently the economy is *absolutely perfect* now and so the previous standards are in effect again. This means I have to wait 7 years before I can buy another house. (I found that out tonight. Yay.)

For those at home doing the math, 2011+7 = 2018.

The good news is I can't afford a home here, anything I'd actually want, anyway. A realty acquaintance was all excited and told me, "You can afford a home!" and then told me it was a condo in an area I won't mention because it's a total shithole and I would NEVER live there because I'd sleep in my truck before that. I know people who do live there though, so I'll keep it to myself with all due respect. shithole

But that's OK! I've decided to rent a house in the area where I'm living now. I went back and forth for so long about a tiny home, but decided in the end it's just not for me. I feel like the walls of my apartment are closing in on me and I want some space to spread out. A garage to park my truck and store my garage things instead of paying for offsite storage and visiting my things on occasion. Hello ShopVac, nice to see you. A full kitchen. A home with parking so people can actually come over and visit. A home with a private backyard so I can put out my chairs and plants and actually garden without feeling like I live in a fishbowl. And a bbq and firepit. It all sounds so wonderful.

So the fun news: A big part of this push to move is because things are about to get a lot more cramped in my apartment because I just got a *major* promotion and have to have a real-deal home office since I'm going to be doing Big Time Stuff (unofficial job title). Yup yup. Yay me! OK enough gloating. But yes, I'm ridiculously excited. But this means I have to relocate my tv and equipment to my bedroom to make room for a desk/chair setep which will eat up the whole living room, which means I have to rearrange my bedroom, and then I still have to have room for my jungle of houseplants because you know winter is coming. Now you see my predicament. It's like a game of musical furniture and you guys I don't even have that much stuff.

So I'm putting it out there. I'm in the market for a rental house in my current zip code. I already found one I love but it's across the street from a school (like, directly across from the school parking lot) and the idea of fighting with angry parents over getting into my driveway/traffic and dealing with kid noise throughout the day isn't my idea of the perfect home. No thanks, not the right place. But I know I'll find it.

So what's with the title of this post?

Because I have a foreclosure and am maybe a dirtbag because of it, and I'm in the market for a rental home for the next 4 years because I absolutely hate moving and don't want to move again until I can actually buy a home, I've named my future abode Dirtbag Foreclosure Rental House. There will be a garden blog. Maybe.

Stay tuned.

The fun as it went down on twitter and why I wrote this post. I write fast and loose when I'm annoyed.

Update: I also plan on getting a cat if I move. Yay crazy cat lady status!

Update 2: No, I'm not a dirtbag because I have a foreclosure, nor do I think people who have had short sales/foreclosures are dirtbags. As my friend Jason said, if banks get to make business decisions, so do we. My business decision was made the night my marriage ended and nearly $200k upside down on my beautiful home and I was like PEACE OUT!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


I was listening to a friend go on and on about all of her exotic vacations and international work travel once when I let slip that the idea of that exhausts me. She acted like I insulted her family. Heretic! How could you NOT want to see the world and travel as much as possible?

Because I just don't.

Ever since then I've shut my mouth when people talk about their travel experiences, feeling like I have nothing to add. But as I step into my truth more and more each day, here it is:

I don't really have a sense of wanderlust.

Please don't feel sorry for me, or take pity on me. I don't feel like my death would be in vain if I didn't see the whole world or as much of it as I could. I don't care about hiking to Macchu Picchu (your pictures looks awesome, though), seeing the pyramids, or walking in Tokyo. It's just not my jam. For me my peace and finding myself comes in the mountains, among the pine trees, away from the noise and clamor of people and daily life. Quiet. Peace. Serenity. And I can do that here in less than an hour's time. I've visited lots of great places here in the good ol' USA.

Growing up I never went more than a few miles from home, save traveling to visit out of state family in the summertime. In high school, going to the other side of Sacramento seemed like a huge ordeal. Ordeal became the word associated with being away from home. Home grounds me. Home feels safe. Moving from Sacramento to Folsom (15 miles) in my mid-20s was a HUGE deal at the time. And then moving from Folsom to Auburn at 30 blew me away. I was an hour away from where my tether was anchored! And yes, I do realize how silly it seems now. These days driving across town and all over the Sacramento region doesn't seem like a big deal.

Baby steps.

As a kid I spent a fair amount of time in Montana, compared to anywhere else (Florida too, maybe). My Dad is from there and many summers we spent a week or more at my grandparent's lake house or hiking in Glacier National Park. As a kid, I was awed by it, sure, and even then I appreciated it. My appreciation as an adult has only grown.

This weekend I flew to Montana to visit friends, same city where my Dad is from. The flight(s) including getting to the airport/layovers took less time than driving to Los Angeles from northern California. Within a few hours I was a thousand miles away. Flying into the Flathead valley, I felt a sense of peace as everything melted away. Sitting on my couch writing this, I feel like I left part of myself there.

I let go. I felt myself let go for the first time in years. I slowed down. I stopped resisting. I have been telling my therapist for the last few months that I am terrified that if I let go, my Intuition will rock my world again - like the divorce, meningitis, recovery, moving 4x, and getting my heart broken again and again. I have been living as if the other shoe was going to drop because in the past it has, again and again. I told her I am terrified that after all I've been through, my Intuition will ask me to pick up everything I own and move far, far away from "home." As if I haven't already been through enough! I wail on a regular basis.

I have never lived more than an hour away from where I grew up, and I'm telling a woman who doesn't even live in the same COUNTRY as her childhood about my "tether" to a certain zip code. I understand the irony.

As of late I've come to a metaphorical line in the sand, moving all my little boxes of emotional/physical/spiritual progress to that line and no further. I will say the last year has been rough. I'm tired of all the "work." I would like a break, or for all my hard work to pay off (it already has in a lot of ways, more on that VERY soon). I haven't been willing to let go and see what is beyond that line because IT SCARES THE SHIT OUT OF ME.

My fear isn't exactly unfounded.

I have fallen in love with Montana. In letting go and not resisting my Intuition's call anymore, I understand what she is showing me. I never thought I'd leave California, ever in my life. But at some point, maybe not for a number of years or even retirement perhaps, my trajectory is north.

The mountains are calling, and I must go.

She is always right.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Get Busy Living

I heard a quote today that put the last week into perspective for me.

I was watching Super Soul Sunday (my favorite show) and Kris Carr of Crazy Sexy Cancer fame was doing little monologues before commercial breaks. For those of you who don't know Kris Carr, she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer 10 years ago and made a documentary about it. I remember watching it back around 2005 and thinking how awesome she was. I've followed her on and off over the years, and have read a number of her books. During one of her segments she said,

"Ten years ago the fearful side of myself might have said I wouldn't be here, because when I was diagnosed with a stage 4 cancer I was told that I had only 10 years to live," Carr says. "But then there was a side of myself, the fighting side of myself, the loving side of myself, that decided to reject that information and to get busy living."
Carr says she had to give up thinking, "Until they say I'm perfectly healthy, I am broken." She says, "I looked around and decided that was a dragon that I would be chasing my entire life if I didn't change my thinking. Because I may never be healthy on paper, but I am well."

After getting back test results that weren't so great, I had to finally admit to myself and the world that I am sick. I am not going to get better. I am not going to have normal kidney function again. This is my life. This is my journey. I am learning to accept that I am not super human; I can't do everything. My body is doing its best, and I have to give it time and space to rest, and that's OK. Living life at breakneck speed, pleasing everyone but myself, and running on stress is not the way I can live my life anymore. (Now that I put it that way...why would I want to do that?)

I think the message the Universe has been trying to send me all along is that of acceptance. Surrender. Letting go.

I have never, ever, let go.

Hearing Kris' words today were like a life raft in the middle of the ocean. It's OK, I don't have to be healthy on paper BECAUSE I AM WELL. 

Perhaps besides meningitis, kidney disease is my greatest teacher. Learning to love myself, learning to take care of myself, learning to set healthy boundaries with people in my life, surrender, knowing that I am safe and loved at all times - these are the lessons. 


Monday, August 4, 2014

Staying True

I had dinner with my mom this weekend and explained the events of the last week in light of my health, and she told me about a situation that occurred in the hospital that I have ABSOLUTELY NO RECOLLECTION OF.

There was about a week’s time where I was conscious and talking and I don’t remember any of it. In fact, I hallucinated that whole week about who was there and what was happening. The little I do remember from that week is pretty interesting…and has nothing to do with what was actually happening.

I had dialysis when I was hospitalized. All I remember is how awful it was, and how yucky it made me feel. I had a total of four treatments; they didn’t think I’d survive the first or second one. I found out they did in fact stop the first dialysis treatment before it was over because my heart was not working properly – I should frame a copy of that EKG as a testament to my life today. It also explains why I got a letter from my insurance company a few months later declaring “Welcome to our Heart Failure Club!” Seriously. Heart failure. Apparently I was conscious for the fourth treatment and at the end as they were unhooking me, I asked my Mom (while trached* with tubes down my throat/she read my lips), “How many more of those?”

I was semi-conscious, hallucinating, and can tell you dialysis is pretty much the grossest, most awful thing ever.

This is why I am taking care of me and putting myself first. I NEVER WANT TO HAVE DIALYSIS AGAIN. This is why I’ve decided to follow a low protein diet. This is why I’m sober. This is why I don’t drink caffeine anymore. This is why I’ve pared down my obligations to hardly anything. This is why I have to say no to people I care about. This is why I pretty much do nothing but rest and sleep when I’m not at work. This is why I am sharing it with you here today. I've been waving the banner of "Look at me! Look at how healthy I am!" and it's bullshit. I am sick. And this is me accepting and admitting it.

I am giving my body the best chance I can throw at it to be healthy and live past 50 years old. Death doesn’t scare me – not living long enough to see retirement does.

*Fun fact: When they removed my trach people had bets on what my first words would be. “Fuck!” was the most bet on word, but I actually said, “Son of a bitch!” Stay true to yourself, my friends.