Spring & The Wall

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"What do I do, what do I do".. words from one of Mary Oliver’s poems which I have been consuming so much of recently. “The rain is slow. The little birds are alive in it. Even the beetles. The green leaves lap it up. What shall I do, what shall I do?” She asks, in her poem titled, 4 Early Morning, My Birthday. My birthday is next week, and so, of course, I am looking back at what a year it’s been and pondering as to what I want to do in the next one. This year, I’ve read so many books, seen many forests, mazed through different relationships with people I love, people I’ve struggled with, people who have been in my life forever and those who are dearly departing. What shall I do, now that I am here? My first inclination is to make sure I write more. To defeat resistance and do what I have to; write with somewhat of a reckless abandon.

Sometimes, I am afraid to write, and that fear becomes like a wall that presses on my chest making me feel smaller and smaller and farther and further away from what I am meant to do with my one small and precious life. “The world doesn’t need more words,” says the wall. “People will judge you, people will look down their noses at your style, your imperfect grammar, your lack of education, the books you’ve read and the education you have already received. You, as you are, are not enough and you don’t deserve the key to unlocking the door to the world’s acceptance.” I raise my middle finger and rebel because it’s the most satisfying kind of rebellion. To show the negative forces in life, that regardless of their subtle truths, I will not give way to the cynic.

Expression comes to me in the form of thoughts, manifesting through the voice of my words. They are my strengths and also my weakness. And oh, how they have caused me much grief and sorrow due to their half-truths, their fears and their ability to expose who I really am and have become. Words hold so much power. Did you already know? They hold the power of death and life, and they all stem from our thoughts. This is why, in the Bible, God is continually reminding us to pray and focus on “whatever is lovely, whatever is praiseworthy..” etc. Remembering to focus on what I am thankful for, filling my mind with stories of hope and remembering the meaning of life, which goes something like “love one another” is the best way for me to produce a life worth living and to prevent negative thinking.

Some days I falter which is so easy to do when living in a society whose news thrives off of devastation and wrongdoing. It is not my first impulse to react with hope and faith that everything will be okay. Somehow though, I was given a sword of truth that cuts through the thick stench of negativity and cynicism. I call it faith and hope that things will work out the way they should despite the way life looks on the outside in the present moment. My guide book, the Bible, will take me to that place of experience working out for myself and the greater good as it fills me with words of hope, stories of great faith and unconventional acts of love.

Winter

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It’s almost spring, but it’s still winter.. so there’s that. Fall came and went like the beautiful colors of the orange and yellow maple trees that sprang up in every corner of the Portland world, only to wilt away with winter’s start.  The seasons here are incredibly beautiful and filled with all kinds of meaning that bring about the deepest of feels. Since my last post I got a new job, fell in love, and let go of some things that no longer served me.  Winter has been a whirlwind of fun.  I went to Hawaii with my family and new beau, celebrated the seasons festivities with multiple different friends in varying settings, took dance lessons, yoga classes, tried Barre 3 out (which I have to say is not really my jam), and cooked so many amazing new recipes.  Lastly, I started an online program at the Institute for Integrative nutrition in the hopes of becoming somewhat of a health coach and I want to tell you all about it!

I have learned some really wonderful principals that have had somewhat of a healing effect on my body and mental psyche.  The most important principal is the fact that diets don’t work.  I have been on so many different diets and I just love how this school is so woke to the concept that the diet industry is genuinely fake.  Don’t get me wrong here, there are some amazing elements to eating in a specific way, but truly no one way of eating works for everyone all the time for most people I know.  As someone who has aspired to be vegan and gluten-free 100% of the time but failed multiple times this statement totally freed me of the guilt I would feel while “cheating” and eating something that wouldn’t fit into either of those categories.  I still believe that a vegan, anti-processed, anti-inflammatory and gluten free diet is the healthiest way to go but if sometimes I want to be wild and eat cheese or gluten for funs sake since I’m not completely intolerant, then there’s no harm done.  I was pretty strict for a few years and it was really hard to socialize, to eat with my family who’s not vegan and just live in the world with all of it’s delicious temptations.  People change and what we crave and need as we get older, move to new climates, start new exercise routines, changes us and there’s nothing wrong with that.  I know I will always remain vegetarian because I have found that I never really enjoy eating meat, sometimes fish, but mostly I don’t struggle with abstaining from meat.  The one thing I have had a hard time letting go is dairy.  I grew up loving cheese and sometimes my soul just craves a little so I let myself eat some every now and then.  It’s too stressful for me to constantly say no to things that I actually really love and enjoy, and if the cheese or ice cream comes from a place where the animals are treated well, then I feel okay indulging every now and then.  It’s the only way I can eat vegan most of the time anyway.

In my case, if I want to be vegan for a week and vegetarian on the weekend and let myself eat ice cream off the spoon of my lovers hand on a Friday night I will no longer feel guilty.  I need to be free from that because life is too damn short and the world and it’s problems are way bigger than me and my perfectionism.  The stress of that guilt will silently kill me faster than knowing that I’m not a perfect will. 

Have any thoughts on being 90% strict and 10% fun?  I’d love to hear your feedback! 

P.S.

I’m making a vegan and gluten free carrot cake muffin bunch tonight with a recipe I tweaked a bit to make my own.  I will keep ya’ll posted!

For now, here are some more pics from this winter 

View from a hike up to the timberline trail on Mt. Hood

View from a hike up to the timberline trail on Mt. Hood

Views from the Tilly Jane Cabin up on Mt. Hood

Views from the Tilly Jane Cabin up on Mt. Hood

A Snowy Portland Street

A Snowy Portland Street

Connected

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I do love coming home to visit.  This trip home wasn't in the best conditions because my father had to have a tumor removed near/on his prostate.  Despite the circumstances, I knew he would be okay because he's determined to live and be a father to my siblings and me, and a faithful husband to my mother until his body gives up on him.  He also hasn't given up on trying to persuade me to move back, and sometimes I feel like agreeing.  He recently told me the reason he chose to live here and raise a family; he has found it to be one of the most healthy places to live in, mentally, spiritually and physically.  Now that I've lived a year in Oregon, a year in LA, a year in Long Beach, a year in Newport, I can't say that I disagree with him.  Laguna's waters are unlike any other.  The beaches are pristine, and the connections I have with the people around me have yet to be surpassed.      


Growing up in Laguna and spending most of my existence here has taken a toll on me because every time I come back, I tend to get a bit sentimental and feel a very strong pull to stay.  The sea calls to me daily, even when I am in Oregon and it's in these moments when I remember all that it has taught me.  I was baptized in the waters of Oak Street beach, by my father when I realized I could no longer deny the existence of God.  I learned to surf, swim, paddle board, and sail in this town and built bonds with my family and friends which eternally strengthened those relationships.  Developing my sea legs came easy, and I was able to gain a solid sense of courage; I learned to grab fear by the chokehold and toss it aside, so as not to get in the way of a potentially fun and exciting moment.  In the lull of waiting for a wave, paddling in silence or swimming in between a swell came a connection that I didn't realize was growing stronger each time I was out there.  Fulfillment, contentment, and joy which no person, accomplishment or thing could ever mimic has become an addiction.  When I’m swimming in the ocean, the sun is in the sky and salt is in the air, the world and all of its worries are paused. Gravity loses its grip, and I feel I’m home.

 

Knock Off OG Sauce

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Today I am revealing what I think is the closest-you-can-get recipe for the OG Sauce that is served with the "Lentil Goodness Bowl" from Active Culture in Laguna Beach, California.  A couple years ago, when Active Culture first opened, I ordered that bowl and haven't strayed from ordering it upon my visits, since.  Why? Because the OG Sauce is so dang good, I could drink it on its own.  Also the lentil goodness bowl is filled with hearty deliciousness that satisfies hunger after a long day of beaching and playing.  I will share the recipe for the bowl in my next post!  So without diving further into how I could drink the OG Sauce like a latte, here is the recipe I came up with.  Please let me know if you try it and how you like it!

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What you need:

A blender & sterilized mason jars (boil mason jars in hot water for 20 minutes to sterilize)  

Ingredients:

  • 7 Cloves of Garlic

  • 1/2 cup Almonds

  • 1/2 cup Cashews

  • 1 can Coconut Milk

  • 1-2 cups water (depending on how runny you want the sauce)

  • 1 Tbsp Turmeric

  • 1/4 Tbsp Cumin

  • 2-3 Spoonfuls of Nutritional Yeast (or more for taste)

  • 2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar

  • 1/4 Tsp Sea Salt

  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Directions:

Throw nuts, 4 cloves of garlic, the whole can of coconut milk and 1 cup of water into the blender.  Blend on medium for a minute.   While the blender is going, pour in spices and nutritional yeast, then start adding in the ACV and as much more water as you like to thin out the sauce.  Pause the blender and taste the sauce to see if you like it as it is.  I ended up adding a lot of garlic, because I really love the flavor, but maybe you want yours a little less strong!    

Once the dressing is all blended up, you can store the dressing in the sterilized jars, in the fridge, for two months or more.  I haven't tested the shelf life yet, but have done some research on garlic sauces with ACV and learned that anything with vinegar and salt will stay preserved for four months or more in the refrigerator, once opened.

#OGSAUCE #VEGAN #GLUTENFREE !!!

 

Hiking Washington

It's my new favorite thing.  Driving across the beautiful Columbia River with Mt. Hood's presence greeting me from my peripheral vision as I make my way into the gorgeous land of breathing trees and their forest's hidden trails.  Hiking Washington has become a part of feeding my wanderlust and filling my heart with all the joy and peace one could ask for.  Some of the best trails I have ever been on are 45 minutes to an hour away from Portland and contain beautiful bugs, wildflowers, streams and views of the Columbia River Gorge that will provide all the feelings of being at a great place in time.  

Here are some pictures from an epic day hiking along the Cape Horn Trail which is right off of HWY 14's exit on Salmon Street.  There is a parking lot which can become full, on beautiful weekdays, so it's best to get there earlier. 

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The Most Delicious, Spiced-Up Almond Butter

Hey Folks, 

    I've been wanting to share this awesome recipe for a while because I have been enjoying it all to myself for the past few months and want you to as well!  When I moved to Oregon, I discovered lots of ways to conjure up some good almond butter, but this version is my favorite.  This almond butter is smooth, creamy, filled with antioxidants, a small amount of salt and oils but will seriously make breakfast an amazing experience.  I put this stuff on gluten-free/vegan toast in the mornings or on a banana, OR on some ice cream for dessert.  Hope you love it as much as I do :)

Time: About one hour

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Organic Vanilla Extract 
  • 2 Tablespoons Organic Coconut Oil
  • 2 cups raw or roasted, organic almonds
  • 1 cup raw or roasted, organic cashews
  • Raw Manuka Honey or any other Honey variation
  • Spices: 1/4 Teaspoon Cardamom, 1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon, and 1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg

Things you will need:

  • Large Food Processor
  • Silicone Spatula 
  • Parchment Paper
  • 2 Cookie Sheets
  • 1 large Mason Jar

First, heat up your oven to 350 Degrees.  Place a sheet of parchment paper on each of the cookie sheets then place the nuts evenly across each sheet.  Bake in the oven for around 10-15 minutes.  This will help the raw nuts release their natural oils which will make blending them in the food processor easier as they will also be a bit softer.  If you buy pre-roasted almonds or cashews, you can skip this step.  Once they have been roasted and are slightly golden, take them out of the oven, off the cookie sheets, and place the nuts with parchment paper onto a cool surface or cooling rack.  Wait until the nuts have almost completely or are fully cooled.  

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Cashews

 

Once the nuts have been cooled, place them into the food processor.  Blend the nuts on high until they start to look like Almond Meal or become grainy.  (see image below)

Almond Meal in Processor

 

Start adding the coconut oil (preferably melted, not solid) & vanilla.  After a few minutes of blending you will need to stop the processor and use the spatula to move the grainy parts at the surface down toward the blades.  Sometimes this takes around 15-20 minutes of stopping the processor and moving the top of the blend towards the bottom and vice versa.  The grain closer to the blades will become more smooth so try and make sure all of the nuts are getting their turn with the blades by pulling up the smoother parts at the bottom of the food processor towards the top, and the surface of the meal towards the bottom.  

Lastly, begin adding the spices and sea salt once the almond butter gets creamy.  Adding more or less of each spice will work just as well because it's all about how you want it to taste.   

 

I hope you enjoy it!  Please feel free to comment with feedback or results!  

XO Marissa OTS

Portland Life!

Hey Everyone!

     In November I took a leap and the net appeared... in Portland, Oregon!  I drove up the coast with my father from Orange County to this awesomely weird and adventurous town near the mountains.  Since then, I have discovered so many new hikes, restaurants and have had some very interesting, but fun experiences with all types of people.  My interests mainly lie in trail running, staying active, eating healthy yet delicious food, and building upon the relationships I have made here and the ones that still exist beyond the border.  Stay tuned for some recipes, great hiking locations, goals and experiences I have set out for myself.  

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Entry One: Backpacking in Blue Lake, CA

This past weekend my boyfriend Dan and I drove up from Orange County to Bishop California, where we camped one night near Lake Sabrina, & hiked up to the back country to stay in the wild realm of the uninhabited eastern sierra mountains.  This area has become a favorite of mine since some of my friends took me there on a trip, last summer, to the wonder lakes.  I don't believe I have ever fealt as much peace and belonging as I have in the back country, in which the only things that surround you are mountians, lakes and wild life.  

Here are some images from our day hike & from our campsite.  I couldn't stop taking photos, as there was so much beauty all the way up to Donkey & Dingleberry Lake.  This is God's country, ladies & gents.

 

Dan & I at the Emerald Lakes

Dan & I at the Emerald Lakes

Dingleberry Lake... More beautiful than it's name ;p 

Dingleberry Lake... More beautiful than it's name ;p 

At the head of the trail overlooking Lake Sabrina 

At the head of the trail overlooking Lake Sabrina 

clear blue & ice cold

clear blue & ice cold

View from our camp site.. The beautiful Blue Lake, CA

View from our camp site.. The beautiful Blue Lake, CA

Mother Nature provided some pre dinner snacks

Mother Nature provided some pre dinner snacks