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Beetroot Hummus with Tortilla Wedges

Yum! Is all I can say. I love eating buttered beets and I have always prepared them one way. Now, I found another reason to grow even more this summer. Beet hummus with baked, salted tortilla wedges.

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Cedar Planked Salmon on the Grill

Enjoying Cedar Planked Salmon on the Grill

My husband loves salmon and orders it frequently when we go out as his meal. When grocery shopping on Monday our regular store had a one day special closeout on salmon. While I was browsing the selection another gentleman (who is the chef at an upscale restaurant) and I were talking. I told him that my husband loves salmon but I had never made it before. He helped me chose my salmon and explained a unique way to make salmon on the grill. Cedar plank salmon on the grill was his recommendation.

cedar plank

Chosing Your Boards
There are two ways to purchase cedar boards. Most big box stores carry them in the grilling section or stop by a local lumber yard. Purchase 1×8, untreated cedar planks and cut them into 16 inch pieces. If you have the time and want to save money, the second method is the way to go. Cutting your own boards allows you to hold larger pieces of salmon.

Prepping The Boards
About 2-3 hours before you want to grill your salmon, soak your boards in water. You can also soak them in wine, it gives your salmon a whole different taste. I chose to use the water method for the first attempt.

Prepping The Grill
While you are boarding up the salmon let your grill warm up to a medium heat.

Prepping Your Salmon
Wash and pat your salmon dry: leaving the skin on the salmon. You can choose to marinade the salmon at this time if you wish or use a rub you have prepared.

Place the salmon skin side down on the planks. If you have marinated the salmon you are set to grill. If not, now is the time to season it. I generously sprinkled sea salt, cracked pepper and rosemary on the skinned side that was facing me.

To Grill
Place the boards on the grill grates. I used a gas grill. As the boards dry out on the grill keep a water bottle handy and spritz the boards occasionally. The boards will blacken on the underside a little but will not catch on fire. You will need to keep an eye on the boards during the grill process; just keep them damp.

Your salmon will take between 15-25 minutes to cook; depending on the thickness of your fish. It is finished when the salmon is a light pink.

Removal From Grill
Transfer the board onto a plate. Using a knife and a fork, remove the under skin; it comes off fairly easy. Plate up the salmon and let rest for a few minutes. The salmon really needs that rest period to meld the flavors.

Re-Using Your Boards
You can reuse the boards as many times as you see fit.  Just be sure to wash them immediately with warm soapy water and rinse well.  Let air dry.

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It is Not a Diet – It is Not a Phase

It is not a diet.
It is not a phase.
You need to make a permanent lifestyle change.

That my friends, is the most important statement for my journey.  When I started this journey toward a better me it was all about weight loss.  Trying to achieve weight loss quickly and become a healthy weight.  That vision is still out there. It has just changed along the way.

There are some things I have learned over the years that prove to be more important than quick weight loss.  Re-training myself to eat properly is one.  Re-training my brain to be happy is another.

A few months ago I was watching a YouTube Ted Talk and the woman said for any problem you are having in your life try to go back and sort through your memories.  Try and find the source of the place you believe the problem started.  From there, you can find a period of time you were happy and what changed.  You can sort through the feelings and find peace.

Of course, that takes some time.  Time to sort through your thoughts and for me, a shitload of baggage I had blocked out of my head.  Memories I didn’t want to go back to but I did go back.  WAY back.  It brought new clarity to my life.  Let me tell you some stories…

When I was young; really young, I was thin.  At that time in my life, up until I was 6 years of age, I lived with my great-grandparents, both of which were born during the early 1900’s.

My mother married a man; my dad, right out of high-school.  When I was 6 months old she divorced him.  I do have three real memories of my dad and visiting his family in Maplewood and very little memories of spending time with my mother up until age 7.

My great grandparents stepped-in to help my mother out. It was tough for her trying to raise a child and work.  That is how I came to live mostly with them until I was of school age.

Living with my great-grandparents was great! In the early morning we watered the garden, picked berries and other produce, checked traps (fish, crab and animal) and watered the cows for the renter on my grandparents land.  In the afternoon, I may have cleaning beans, shredded cabbage, made lemonade or help can foods from berries and produce that was collected over the growing season with my grandmother. The food that was canned was used to feed my great-grandparents over the winter and we kept very busy.

I ate from a garden that was grown with out pesticides. All my bread products and foods prepared didn’t come from a box, they were handmade from recipe cards.  If you wanted to “run” to the store, it was a treat to do so. Not a weekly adventure like it is today.

In the afternoon, my grandfather and I would load up his “extra” produce, fish, animal pelts, bird feathers…basically, anything he wished and went to trade with certain neighbors. We traded our items for the ability to pick cherries or strawberries, for chickens, eggs and even yarn that a neighbor woman dyed.

My favorite woman my grandfather traded with was Mrs. May.  Mrs. May had lost her husband early on in life. Today, when I think back, she was a wealthy woman. Her kitchen walls were lined with plates of all the cities and countries she had been to.  Every wall was covered and there was not another spot to hang another plate if she wanted to.  I remember looking all around me every time we stopped and marveled at the vast amount in her kitchen alone.

Mrs. May was the woman that we visited each June.  She always supplied my grandfather with my grandmother’s birthday present.

I never knew exactly what our afternoon would hold for us. It was never a dull day. Although, there were some days we would just enjoy the weather outside in front of the house in our metal chairs and my grandparents would read for an hour.

Your day started at sunrise with a hot bowl of oatmeal or fruit salad and ended 1 hour after sunset or after Hollywood Squares, whichever came first.  They lived a simple life, but a happy life together.

When I started Kindergarten, I had a difficult time.  Hell, for the past 6 years of my life I lived with a couple that lived a secluded life.  A life straight out of a Tom Sawyer Novel.

I struggled coping with daily issues and transitions to city living.  Things were so different. Unlike some of the other students I went to school with, I had never held a pencil in my hand or cut with a pair of scissors.  Give me a plot of land and I could grow anything you wished.  I could tell you by sight what each animal in the forest was and how to skin it. AND, I was confused on why you would ever need to take a bath or shower daily.  From my experience, you used a washcloth every other day and only bathed twice a week.

General classroom studies, what is this stuff?  Relating to the other children?  Can’t say I knew how.  My family didn’t understand my struggles.  Hell, I didn’t know why until later either.  The only thing I could tell you back then was life sucked.  City life sucked!

At some point my mom met a man through work, who became my dad through adoption at 7 years old.  I always wanted to know the reason for the adoption but never asked out of fear and for hurting other people’s feelings. That was, until I was 38 years old.  At 38 years old, I picked up the phone and called my biological father.  I needed to hear my biological Dad tell his version.

After hearing his side and why he released his rights, his heart was in the right place. Against his families wishes, he did release his rights to give me a better life.  A chance to have a real family life and always feel part of that life.  After actually asking him, I felt so much better about the situation.  For the record, before having a talk with him, I did harbor some “bad” feelings.  Mainly, abandonment issues.  The “why” always came to mind and the “not loved” did too. Those issues are behind me. His reasons were pure.  He did what he thought at the time was the right thing to do for me, not for him.

Life growing up wasn’t easy.  I struggled in grade school trying to catch up.  I had two wonderful teachers that spent extra time with me.  My 3rd and 4th grade teachers, were my lifesavers. If not for the patience and extra work they put in – I doubt I would have enjoyed school at all. I owe a great deal of gratitude to those fine women for seeing my struggles and doing what they could to help me directly.

My summers, until I was about nine were still spent with my great-grandparents and my mother’s parents.  Which felt more like home.  I was in my natural element.

I can say all of my sadness, frustration and feeling of not measuring up came from my early struggles in school and my home life.  In grade school, I felt stupid.  Everyone was ahead of the curve.  Each year until 4th grade, I was behind.  At home, my parents were not around often. They worked to stay afloat.  My younger sister and myself, took care of the household duties.

My parents tried really hard to give us a stable house to live in.  What we lacked was time spent with us.  For me, my mother expected a lot for my age. I was to care for my sister (5 years difference), divide the household cleaning duties between my sister and I, and also take on odd jobs for money when I could.  I did.  I struggled with trying to be a kid, failure in school studies and the extra responsibilities that were placed on me.

I never measured up in my mother’s eyes.  Not to say I didn’t try.  Her house was clean, my sister was cared for, I babysat to earn money for school clothing, washed dishes at a local restaurant underage for years….anything and everything to measure up.  I just didn’t.  She seemed to hate me.

For my childhood, I was a disappointment to her. It hurt me.  Never did anything correct, I didn’t work hard enough, I was gaining weight and not pretty enough….OH, HELL…she was just taking HER unhappiness and HER life choices out on ME.  I was a child.  It wasn’t fair!

That bitterness my mom showed me translated into a bitterness toward my sister for me. My sister had a childhood.  She was able to live that childhood.  I harbored the weight on my shoulders many times for her, out of love for her.  That love for her, came at a price for me, and at times in our lifetime, a price for her as well.

All along I “thought” as a child I was helping to bare much of that weight on my shoulders but in the end, my sister also had her own struggles growing up.  Many of which, she must sort through today.  IMO, I sometimes feel some of that responsibility lays directly on my shoulders.  After a while when you are pushed so hard, you start pushing back.  My sister was in the middle of that power struggle.  My sister didn’t get a chance to push back.  She didn’t get the chance to get that fight within her that I had learned.  Thus, I can see why she may suffer today.

When I turned 16, I went to school and worked anytime I could.  Never being home. Leaving my sister to fend for herself at 11. I was busy making money to save for when I graduated.  The plan was, after graduation, I would leave my household and live my life.

Graduation came, and I did move out.  The week after I graduated, I moved out and in with my boyfriend.  Worked one full-time job and one part-time job.  College was out of the question.  No time, or money for that.

4 years after moving in with my boyfriend, he became my husband.  I returned to school and got my degree in Early-childhood education. I worked as a preschool teacher, until I became pregnant with our first child.

Visits with my childhood family, were not as often.  Until, my mother suffered a brain aneurysm. Then, while pregnant; I helped care for my mom while my dad and sister worked during the day.  I began working nights, again as I did in highschool, I felt this to be the right thing to do.

I gave birth to our daughter the following January.  My mom, for a period of time after her aneurysm was different.  Maybe, that was just my perspective or I wanted to believe it in my heart.  Somehow, we seemed closer.

A few years after her aneurysm, I saw the same negative patterns develop once again within our relationship.  At that time – I said nope, not again.  I distanced myself.

Few years back my dad up and left my mom without warning.  At that time, my mom wanted me to take a stand.  My mom, wanted me to make a stand and disown him.  I didn’t.  I wasn’t.  Years ago, not by my choice;  I lost a part of me – my biological dad.  THIS DAD was all I had.  That wasn’t happening.  He didn’t do anything to hurt me.  If he wanted something different in his life, that was his choice.  Although, I saw her hurt.  I wasn’t making that stand.

It was shortly after this time that my grandmother passed  – I sealed my fate and my mother sealed hers as well shortly after this date.  I was a traitor for not taking her side in the divorce. There would never be a time in the future for her that I could change that thought.  I am ok with it…really, truthfully, I am. I stand by my decision.

I am not going to post exactly what was said after my grandmother passed away, it doesn’t need to be said.  For, no mother should have ever said what came out of her mouth that day to her daughter. EVER.

Years after the fact, we still do not speak.  It is a choice we both silently agree on.  Again, I am at peace. Actually, more than at peace. I have a clear understanding moving forward in my life.  Clairity.

My daughter and my mom have an on and off again relationship and I try hard to stay out of it.  It is certainly up to my daughter to have that relationship.  It is her right.  Not for me to make for her.

Primal Instincts 

We have a primal instinct living inside each of us. This instinct was developed millions of years ago and it shaped our thought patterns, when we were hunters and gathers. Even though we have evolved from our primal living, the instinct and thought pattern is instilled within us.

That instinct and thought process allows us to avoid two kinds of mistakes: thinking there’s a tiger in the bushes but actually all is well, and thinking all is well but actually there is a tiger about to pounce and devour us.

The cost of the first mistake is needless worry and undue stress. The cost of the second one is loss of enjoyment of life. Mother Nature designed us to make the first mistake a thousand times to avoid making the second mistake even once.

We routinely overestimate threats and dwell about the what could be’s and what if’s, while underestimating opportunities and resources.

For years I protected family members from the truth.  Truth that would rock their core. That there was, and still IS a tiger in our bushes.  My protection of this tiger – was also to protect SOMEONE ELSE’S family.  There’s a tiger in the bushes, not all is well; and that tiger pounced and devoured someone close to us.  BE VERY CAREFUL OF THOSE YOU HOLD DEAR AT NIGHT.

It has taken me time to sort through each and every thought, as I laid awake for nights on end searching for a way to help one and protect the other… breaks my heart to know that I tried to spare one person’s feelings for another.  I figured one could work through the evil in time and the other, wouldn’t be able to accept it.

Again, honesty comes to mind.  Certainly, if I would have faced the truth myself years ago and not “pretended” it couldn’t of happened, things in the second half of my life would have went so much better.

As I sit writing, I have it in the back of my mind….don’t publish this one.  I have been taught that airing out your dirty laundry is bad, VERY BAD.  It might just be the worst thing you can do for, or to your family.

Is that true? Sharing is BAD?  Maybe.  Will you hurt people?  Maybe.  Will people understand you better? Only those that take the time to read might.

What does it accomplish? Maybe, nothing for you.  For me it did.  I re-read this a few times. WOW, did I get some clarity on my life.  For it wasn’t until I started writing that I knew I struggled with certain issues.  I wasn’t sure exactly sure where some of my issues came from and where my abandonment issues came in.  I certainly do now.

As I sat and wrote, I saw where some of my greatest strengths were earned.  I can pin-point why I have certain quirks. I understand where some of my sister’s life issues come in and how I might have had a small part in that, by not realizing what I was leaving behind as I moved on or keeping secrets I knew.

I have deep regret for not telling one of the largest secrets of my life.  For quieting my child and husband after we knew.  For what?  To save everyone else?  Those people could give a shit less about me or my family. Pretty apparent by their actions in life. But, it kept THEIR loved one out of jail and made our lives HELL!

Today,  because I wrote this article, I found a forgiveness I never thought I would find.  Forgiving my mom.  Does it mean we will have a happily ever after.  No, that ship has long sailed.  It only means that I forgive her for some hardships, for if it wasn’t for those hardships I would not be the person I am today. Today I am strong.  I am independent and can take on ANYTHING you throw at me – both literally and figuratively.

To my sister.  Sorry for your hardships growing up.  We both struggled.  In our adult life – you SHOULD have told me you knew when I was struggling and searching for answers.  YOU held that key. I trusted YOU.  YOU betrayed everything we stood for in banding together through blood. You live with that, and keep a smile on your face. YOU keep hiding that – someday YOU too will have to get out from under it.

To my child, I am deeply sorry.  Sorry that I didn’t see the tiger.  Sorry, I didn’t protect YOU.  Sorry, I failed you.  Sorry for keeping your secret. You were my number one priority and I failed YOU.

To anyone reading this – Thank you!  Just sharing this has taken a LARGE brick of my heart.  It is part of the healing process for me.  I can and will move on – no more silence, no more secrets. It happened.  I will NOT pretend it didn’t.  With that said, in this family we can heal.