Friday, June 24, 2016

Dang Good Black Beans


My family likes beans.  They always have and we eat a lot of beans.  I know some diets don't allow for beans and this recipe won't be for you.  I am going to assume that if you are reading this then you CAN eat beans and this recipe might just work.

I make this all the time when time is short and I want a dish that will fill my belly with food.  Rushing to and from school, I find myself, needing to eat before I go.  This can be made in a few short minutes.  I personally like it the next day.  With that in mind, I will make a batch the day before and have it pre-portioned in the fridge.  Labelled: MINE.  Just kidding.

One of the reasons we love Newport so much is this beautiful bridge.  When we left Annapolis a year ago we were always amazed by the Bay Bridge that went over the Chesapeake Bay.  To our delight we have an equally stunning bridge that crosses over the Yaquina Bay.  What we find on the other side of this bridge is amazing beaches, my school, the aquarium, and a fabulous little hole in the wall for Fish-n-Chips. 


Look at the picture above.  The cloud picture was taken just as I came out of the arc.  This image just blew me away at how glorious our world is.  The clouds reminded me of brush strokes on a painting.  They were placed almost too perfect.  The whole sky was filled with these wispy white clouds.



South Beach is a favorite of ours.  We will often take friends and family there.  The beach is long and great for walking.  It produces some great agates and sand dollars.  The views are breath taking. Many times we will get a chance to watch surfers tackling the rough seas. I would never have guessed that Oregon had so many surfers.  We do!  They come from all over to surf our waves.


Oh, and here we are again back at the Black Beans.  ENJOY!

  Dang Good Black Beans

1 can rinsed black beans
2 teaspoons oil (I use Ghee for everything)
1/2 bell pepper, any color, sliced
2 tablespoons red onion, diced medium
1/2 teaspoon fresh garlic
salt and pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/8-1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 raw jalapeno, sliced for garnish and diced small to include (if you want it spicy)
garnish-Cilantro
lime juice, to taste

1.  Be sure to rinse your black beans.  Add at the very end!  If you don't do this, they will become mushy.

2. In a saute pan, warm oil.  Add red onion and bell pepper. Saute until soft.  Add spices.  When combined, turn off heat.  Add black beans and gently fold together. Do not over stir or you will end up with mortar paste.

3.  At this time you can add jalapeno and lime juice.  Taste and adjust.  Garnish with cilantro.

4.  Refrigerate any left overs.  Good for 3-5 days.  Reheat in the microwave.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Pink Pasta...Because Why Not.


Can I tell you how excited I am to be back at work.  It has been two long years of juggling 4 kids, a move cross the USA, a husband that works from home and than my choice to return to school and all that entails.   The last two years has taught me a lot.  I have learned that I need to be constantly learning and improving or I get depressed. My brain needs stimulation or it goes crazy.  I enjoy what I do and I want to be better at it.  I want to write more and cook more.  It's been forever since I have felt that way.  

I have a gap in kids that will allow me to find the time to squeeze in a few more years of education. Isabella is 9 and that leaves me with 9 years to "edu-ma-cate" my silly self.  I am pretty excited.


My busy life has forced me to simplify my cooking.  My eating habits have evolved as well.  I find myself in the kitchen with less prep, tastier dishes, and more time to do other things.  I made macarons the other day with my daughter and holy shit those take a long time.  SOOOO much work! Secretly, they tasted amazing; but, I realized how much my approach has changed in the last two years and I love it.  

I love simple foods, with whole ingredients.  I like having my shopping cart bulging to capacity with vegetables.  My family appreciates this too. 


This recipe is fun.  It made the kids smile to see pink noodles.  Easy slip of a bit of red food coloring during the final stages of boiling the noodles and presto-bammo you have a kid friendly dinner.  

Cory made the sauce the night before (he is a keeper that guy of mine) which made dinner even better because all I have to do is reheat the sauce and grate some cheese.  


I even had Cory pose with the spaghetti.  This is a comical process seeing how our 2 year old is not used to both of her parents being tied up with photographing food. She wanted in on the action and while I snapped away, she tried to climb Cory's legs.  We laughed so hard at our life.  We are almost 50 and dealing with a two year old.....crazy!  She does keep us young and we love her so much.


Cory's sauce is simple (recipe below).  Add the following ingredients and let it simmer until reduced to the desired thickness.

Ingredients:  1 teaspoon minced garlic, 1/4 diced red onion, 1 cup of fresh mushrooms sliced, 1 small zucchini sliced, and two cans of diced tomato with juice, and one can of tomato sauce.  For the fresh herb he added fresh basil and oregano.

He's a man that does not cook in the kitchen very often so his technique is "throw it in a pan with some oil and let it simmer".  Seriously, this is what he does and it turns out great every time.

As I always recommend with my recipes, taste the sauce and make your own assessment.  Be your own quality control and add salt as needed.  Let me know if you have any questions. I'm around.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

DIY Driftwood Wreath


I got the idea in my head to make my own driftwood wreath after pricing a few for sale on the internet. They can be hundreds of dollars.  I can see, after making my own, why they are so expensive.  They take time and some skill.

Let's get started and talk about some of the basic items you will need to make your Driftwood Wreath.

FRAME: My frame was 18inches.  I wanted it to be BIG.  I ordered a wire frame from Joann's Fabric and I used this for my base.  I had no idea how to attach the wood to the metal frame.  I watched a few youtube videos to get some ideas of how I should work with these two elements.  I concluded that I would wire my first row of driftwood to the metal frame.

GLUE: They recommended I use E6000 glue.  This suggestion was great.  This is an epoxy and its super strong. It has to cure so it won't be a quick project.

WIRE: I've recommend the glue now lets talk about the wire.  You want a gauge that is easy for you to work with but also strong enough to hold the wood on the metal frame.  Too thin and they will break and too thick and it will be hard to thread around and secure.  I worked with small pieces of wire.  I would secure the wire to the metal frame and wrap around the piece of driftwood and then attach two or three pieces; secure and repeat, until your first row is attached to the metal frame.

DRIFTWOOD:  Collect as much as you can and more than you think.  Get all types of lengths and thicknesses.  This makes the wreath more random.  I have seen them with all the same length and thickness but that is not the look I was shooting for. Below you will find a look into one of my three bags (below).


This project took me 3 weeks to complete for several reasons.  One, I didn't collect enough driftwood. I thought I did but I didn't and had to actually go back two different times.  COLLECT A LOT OF driftwood. More than you think you will need.  Secondly, the glue has to cure.  They recommend 24 hours but highly encourage 72 for the best results.  Thirdly, time is key.  It takes time to place and match each piece to where it will look the best.  Imagine a 3D puzzle.  This is it.

Let's recap:

1.  Lots of Driftwood.
2.  E6000 glue and time to cure. Solid base. Wire for securing first row.
3.  Time to place each piece perfectly.

I chose to work my wreath into a starburst.  I decided on two rows.  I wanted this to have large and small pieces.  Thick and thin pieces too.  I liked the diversity when it was all said and done.



To start the project you will need:  (NOTE:  This is not a sponsored ad. These links are only to show you what I used.  There is no obligation or expectation to buy.)

1. Something to use as a base.  I used  this metal frame. (Not an ad, just a reference for what I used).
2.  Glue.  I used E6000 glue.
3.  Driftwood (collect from local beaches if you can.)
4.  Wire cutters.
6.  Wire.
7.  A large table to keep project up for the time you need it.


This is not necessary, but I made a mock wreath first (see picture above). I wanted to make sure that my idea would work and translate to a beautiful driftwood wreath. My initial thought was that my center would be small. I used this bowl to keep the hole round and small.  This is why I needed a lot more driftwood.  After the fact, I made the center much larger (see above picture).  This is something you want to think about too.

The first step is attaching the first row with short strips of wire and working with 2-3 pieces of driftwood at a time.  I tried more but felt the driftwood shifted too much.  Find what works best for you.  I would secure the wire to the metal frame and wrap around the piece of driftwood and then attach two or three pieces and then secure and repeat until my first row was on the metal frame.

Once you have secured the first row you can start glueing the second row onto the initial row of driftwood. Place a few and then glue.  Remember: the E6000 glue does not stick right away.  It has to cure. If you glue and then lift the wreath, before it cures and securely holds the wood together, it will all fall off. Use the small thin pieces of driftwood to fill in any gaps, holes, or to hide any wire that might be seen from the front.

Finally, let your wreath cure for a few days.  This wreath will be very very heavy.  To place on your wall you need to make sure that what is holding it, can handle the weight.  I attached a sheet rock thingy and so far so good.


I love mine and I hope you will enjoy yours too. Of course, any driftwood you have extra, use to decorate in other ways.  I have several driftwood vases around my home.




Friday, June 10, 2016

Pasta Salad with Corn, Tomatoes, and Avocados



As promised, a few recipes about food.  This salad is delightful.  Each bite is creamy and packed full of flavor. I love the combination of avocado, corn and tomato.  You also have a lot of freedom with this recipe.  If you need to use gluten free pasta you can.  The sauce is pretty basic but feel free to mess with the flavor profile. Use fresh herbs or dried.  I will always encourage my readers to alter any recipe to fit into their family's comfort zone.

A side note, if you will.  Typing with single space and not double space is so WEIRD!  I have been in school these past six months and everything is double spaced with size 12 font.  I feel like such a rebel typing in single space.  Honestly, I kind of like it.

Thank you friends who took the time with my last post to send me messages (public and private).  It meant so much to myself and to my husband.  I didn't know how Cory would react with me sharing such a personal story and experience with the world.  His comment to me was one of relief.  He said it felt good to finally let everyone know that we are not perfect and that our marriage is fragile at times.  We make mistakes and try to learn from them.  I had to agree.  I felt a release too.  Cory said we weren't hiding the fact that we had a dip in our relationship, we just never openly talked about it.  Twenty-eight years is a long time to be married.  If in that time we did not have a few hiccups along the way, I believe, we would never grow as a couple.



Again, thank you for the support and kind words.  I appreciate each comment. They always touch me more than you know.  The private messages tug at my heart.  I believe with all my heart that we are each living and doing our very best at any given time.  Could we be better? Absoultely.  That's not the issue though.  Now is our only reality and it's now that we must live.  Now is how we will shape our future and deal with our past.  Now is sometimes easier than others.  Staying present and living the best NOW that I know is keeping me positive and on track.  Allowing myself to have a down moment is okay too.  It's easier to work my way through those feelings or disappointments instead of harboring them.  When they say to push through your each moment, good or bad,  I really do believe this.

Living an authentic life is raw and complicated.  Living an authentic life will make you more free than anything else.  Being the real you is better than trying to be something you are not.  A lesson that took me a few decades to figure out.

Love you.  It's okay.  Give yourself permission to be okay with yourself.

Oh, and make some pasta salad.


Pasta Salad with Corn, Tomatoes, and Avocados

1 package of your favorite pasta, cooked according to directions
1-2 avocado, diced small
1-2 tomato, diced small
1 cup of corn (frozen or canned) 
1/2 cup cubed cheese (omit if vegan or use vegan cheese)
1/4 cup mayonnaise or Vegannaise 
1 tablespoon chopped green onion
1/4-1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic
salt and pepper to taste
garnish--Chow Mein Noodles (if these fit into your diet plan)
garnish--fresh curly parsley

1.  Prepare ingredients.  Toss together in a large bowl.  Taste and adjust.  You can always add more seasoning but it's hard to adjust if you add to much.  Top with garnishes.

2.  Refrigerate any leftovers.  Good for 3-5 days.


Recipe and Photo's by Sherron Watson

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

What's Happening in My Life--It's a Long Piece



Hi, It's me.  Did you think I had left you forever?  Maybe.  I thought about it to be honest but the pull to return is too strong.  I miss it.  I miss the friendships, the comments, the interaction with readers who feel connected to me.  I miss you.

I had to take some time away though.  I was in a bad place. I set off to correct a few thoughts and to find my way.  I wasn't happy but I was happy.  Does that make sense?  What is being happy anyways?  I found I was walking in a shell of a body.  My mind was numb and I was going through the motions.  I don't believe I was depressed but maybe I was.  I felt happy most of the time just empty.  

So empty. 

 I felt I had ran this huge race and crossed the finished line only to discover , "why did I run at all."  You may have felt this too about me as you read some of my last entries here on the blog.  I tried to push through and find out what was holding me back.  Why did I have these feelings of numbness? Why couldn't I feel joy like everyone else?  Was I broken?

 So many questions.

Looking back I think there are several reasons for my dip in mood and happiness. I won't spend a great deal of time analyzing them but will touch on a few that I think have contributed to my downward spiral.  I have talked about leaving the Mormon Church before.  This was a huge transition for our family.  Six years later and we are just now starting to feel normal again.  What ever that means but we find ourselves identifying with that word more and more these days.  Secondly, having Finnley was a blessing but it has also been very difficult.  Kids are work and when you are forty-eight with a two year old, it seems like a mole hill becomes Mount Everest.  Tired and worn out only begin to describe my state of being over the last three years.  Finally, my mind was a huge bowl of Jello.  Staying home resonated with me with my first two kids.  These last two little girls are getting a different Mom.  I felt guilty about that.  I didn't want to stay home anymore. I wanted to get out and do something for myself.  The guilt of feeling this way was burdensome.  

So, yeah, I went through some shit.

The good news is I took control of my own happiness and I feel so much better.  Let me back up for a minute.  We moved to Oregon in June 2015 and finally moved into our new home in August 2015.  This was a transitional time for our family.  Drake left home after graduating from high school, Rye stayed with us, Isabella was 8, and Finnley was on the verge of crossing the "terrible two's" bridge.  Cory and I were not in a good place and yet, we were buying a home. What the hell was wrong with us?  We were in motion and couldn't seem to get off the train long enough to repair ourselves, let alone, a relationship.  We hit a cross road.  Two weeks into our new home we said the words "divorce" and "separation".  What had driven us to this point?  It was scary and honestly hurt so deeply.  The hurt of losing my best friend is what gave us the strength to fix what was troubling our marriage.  I couldn't imagine living without him but at that moment all I wanted to do was run away.  I was so tired.  Tired of fighting, negotiating, being homeless (we lived with my sister until our house was closed), dealing with a two year old who felt the need to remind me of why she would be our last-daily, and trying to figure out "what the fuck I wanted to be when I grow up".  

Forty-eight and still trying to find myself.  It's funny--now.  

This has a happy ending.  We figured out a reason to stay together and keep the love alive. To be truthful it had nothing to do with love. We still loved each other very much.  It was out of this love that we felt the need to let each other go. If we were not making the other person happy why should we be so selfish as to not let them go to find the happiness that we each deserved.  We talked about seeing a therapist and opted to try our hand at doing some self care first.  I found two books that, in my opinion, saved our marriage.  They are The Five Love Languages and The Seven Priniciples for Making Marriage Work.  Both of these books are excellent and opened up our eyes to a ton of ideas of how to improve our foundation.  We had the bones of a good house it just needed a face lift and and update.  We needed some new furniture...my feeble attempt at humor!

I'm so glad we made it.  Cory is an amazing father and husband.  What I learned along the way is that what I thought were his problems were actually mine.  I was unhappy with myself and projecting this into the lives of those around me.  I forgot that I was in charge of my own happiness; not someone else. We worked through our issues and found a rekindled appreciation for each other.  We recognized that at this stage of our life it is important for us to do things separate from each other and to grow as individuals. We had forgotten how to fill our own cups.  Kids, moving, buying a new house, family, leaving a church, new jobs, and on and on....had over taken our lives.  We stopped living the good life and found ourselves drowning in a pool of ankle deep water.


Once we were on track again I had to look deep within myself and decide a few things.  In January of this year I returned to school for the first time in 29 years.  It was scary taking those first steps to get admitted, take a placement test, find classes, set up financial aid, and then finally attend.  This single act of kindness that I allowed myself has been life changing. 

My cup is full for now. I work daily on keeping what's inside me flowing.  

Returning to school has allowed me to grow personally. I have found a new drive and direction.  I feel alive.  My only regret is that I did not do this sooner.  I won't spend anytime beating myself over that decision and move forward with my goals and aspirations. 

The amazing thing is my family is okay.  By going to school, our schedule has changed a bit, but I can do both.  I am learning that I can take some time for me, give to my kids, be with my husband, and juggle.  I should have joined a circus act because, honestly, I can do more than I thought was possible. I doubted my abilities, and it threw me into a tail spin.  Thankfully, with a lot of soul searching and self-love, I was able to pull out and stay the course. 

I found me.


 Why am I sharing all of this?  Well, because it's who I am. These moments are not unique to just me.  This is life.  These types of events are happening everyday to families, to mothers, and to women.  We feel at times empty.  We struggle to find balance.  We try to be everything to everyone and leave ourselves in the dust.  It happens. Shit happens.

I have learned a great deal about finding a community that elevates who you are and hope to become. This is an important part of building and retaining my happiness. I feel the road was long and rough at times but these past five years were all worth it.  The home we have created is beautiful.  We love living at the beach.  Our marriage is solid.  Our kids bring us joy.

I am happy.  Happiness does not equate to perfection.  It means that I am able to swing back and forth between the highs and the lows with out hitting rock bottom.  We spend a lot of time at the beach. Our whole family feels a connection to the waves, the wind, the sand, and the smell of salty air.  If I felt lost before I feel found now.  I am home.


This means change.  Change for my blog.  I have tried and struggled to do the whole food thing.  My own eating habits change constantly as we are still trying to figure out what is going on with my auto-immune system. I have recently had all the allergy testing done AGAIN.  I have been told that I have a very sensitive immune system and that I need to visit a rheumatologist and we need to start looking at a possible Lupus diagnosis.  I'm not ready for that so am trying to control my symptoms with diet. I am back to a strict vegan diet.  It is the only things that keep the inflammation, redness, foggy brain, aches and pains at bay.  It's hard.  I am frustrated.  I have felt so alone with this journey and at rock bottom on some days.  I am pulling the plug on my food only blogging format.  It is too depressing because I am so limited in what I can eat and prepare.  I feel the fun I experienced of cooking and creating is gone. I started to pull away last year because of my frustration and this year I made the decision to do something different. When I felt the spark return, while at the beach, which I had originally felt with cooking, I knew the beach was my way to keep writing and to stay connected.

Change is good.

I love the beach and all that it offers.  Through my Instagram account I am finding that others feel the same way I do.  So I am trying to re-brand myself into a lifestyle blog.  I hope to share lots of beach things as well as some food recipes. The ocean is my happy place and I feel compelled to share this joy with others.  The beach is a sanctuary and it is here that I have found a connection like no other place that we have lived.  It might be the coolness of the air and water to my firey personality or the constant beauty that I am surrounded by. Whatever it is, I will never let go.

These are a few things that I have been thinking about writing in several blog updates, and, well, it all came out in one post.  I just regurgitated my last year with its highs and lows for the world to see and dissect.  Oh well.  Life happens and we either sink or swim.

Thankfully, I am turning into a great swimmer.

A few images from my Instagram account below in a collage. I would love to see you visit me over on Instagram. I share daily updates there.  I will try to write weekly on my blog. I am still on Facebook, Twitter, and StumbleUpon.  I have some great Pinterest boards too. My second semester is ending today and I will have a lighter load this summer. I am hoping this gives me the chance to write again.  I love writing. I love the beach.  I'm pretty sure I can weave a tale or two combining my two loves.

Have a joyful day!


Asparagus Dill Pinwheels #vegan

I am always looking for ways that I can use leftovers. These pinwheels allowed me to use up the blanched asparagus from the night bef...