Darren and I are coming up on our 25th anniversary! Since neither of us are interested in expensive vacations or buying each other sentimental trinkets, we thought it would be fitting to invest in a nice new mattress to celebrate our togetherness… and improve our sleep quality! Our existing mattress is almost fourteen years old, and has accommodated every member of the family with its king sized comfort over the years. However, whether it is the age of the mattress, or the age of our bodies, we’re feeling it’s time to treat our joints to a bit more support.


Well, leave it to me to get stressed out about purchasing a mattress! Who knew sleep surfaces were such a controversial topic (according to Google)? Aside from the primary decision of whether to go with a traditional spring mattress or memory foam… or a combination of the two… oh, and there’s this new “Purple” brand mattress with some other stretchy surface… there are a plethora of other concerns when it comes to choosing the materials in your mattress! If you are prone to being an investigatory, conscious consumer, you have your work cut out for you!.


Conventional mattresses are quite toxic… mainly flame retardants and other chemicals that breakdown over the life of the mattress and actually increase in toxicity with age, rather than “off-gassing,” as we often hear (this is what I have read… I am not a scientist). But, over the course of its life (and ours) we will use a mattress more than almost any other product we purchase, so it’s important to give some thought to what we’re sleeping on. I am surprised that I’m still alive with all the toxic mattresses I have slept throughout my life! And, oh my god, my poor children! I didn’t even know organic, non-toxic mattresses were a thing when I got theirs years ago! Yes, I am being a bit sarcastic, but, had I known then, what I know now, there is a chance my kids would have been sleeping in organic cotton hammocks hanging from the ceiling.


More non-toxic, eco-friendly mattresses do exist, but they mostly use wool for the “natural” flame retardant (to meet federal and state regulations for burn tests). Wool isn’t vegan. Despite claims of “eco-wool” being sustainable and cruelty-free, and such, I would rather not participate, if I have a choice. But, the choices are limited.


There are a few companies that will make a “vegan mattress” without wool or flame retardants, with a “doctor’s note,” which apparently gets around their legal requirements, but that sounds complicated. And, most of these options are priced around the same as a used car! Of course, since this mattress is taking the place of a cruise, or some other quarter century celebratory expenditures, we are happy to pay a decent amount for a good one. But, upwards of $5,000 for a non-toxic mattress, just for us (the kids could use upgrades, too), is pushing my comfort level.


With the factors of health, ethics and budget all in the mix, it has me contemplating how I could make a mattress out of our lawn clippings over the next season! Or, aren’t there some health benefits to sleeping directly on the floor? I think that might be our most eco-friendly, vegan, and affordable option! That, or sleeping on the flame retardants on a standard mattress, and just hoping some of my other lifestyle choices offset the impact of the toxins enough to stave off terminal disease for another good while!


Since most of us will likely have to purchase a few mattresses in our lives, I know I must not be alone in my potential over-thinking on this topic. Share with me your mattress woes! What kind of mattress do you have? Do you like it? If money weren’t a factor, which type of mattress would you choose? Memory foam or spring? Firm, medium or plush? What else?

Back in 2009, I participated in a 100 day raw food challenge. Afterwards, I was feeling so good that I just kept going! Fueled, partly by curiosity, as well as, a belief that raw fruits and veggies are some of the most healing foods around, it became a fairly effortless lifestyle with few obstacles. Somehow, eight years has gone by, just living my life on my divergent dietary path. The experience has taught me a lot about myself, my body, nutrition, food culture and what constitutes “health.”

However, in the past year or so, adhering to an “all raw” diet has started to feel like a bit of an arbitrary choice, given the context of my life right now. Food is, obviously, integral to my sense of well-being, but, these days, my attention is equally focused on the “nourishment” I get from movement, relaxation, relationships and time for creative pursuits. So, a few weeks ago, I decided it would feel good to experiment with my diet right now. I am having a bit of a love affair with steamed sweet potatoes at the moment.

Though I still love to play around in the kitchen occasionally, and I will always have a passion for a good salad, it seems that food has become less of a creative outlet and more of a practical endeavor in recent years. I just want the most efficient, affordable, nutrient dense food… fairly quickly. Admittedly, I had gotten in a bit of raw food rut with busy schedules and waning energy. So, it feels nice to have a few other foods “on the table” when the raw options are less than ideal, not good quality or expensive.

As I move forward with a few tweaks to my long-standing routines, I am sure some new insights will arise. So far, aside from some subtle changes in digestion, I have no startling differences to report. My raw food experience has changed my palate significantly, for which I am thankful. I will continue to prioritize a “clean,” whole foods vegan diet, and balanced lifestyle, in my best efforts to stay off medications, and, keep my weight, fitness and emotional health on an even keel as I get older. So, that is my raw reality… for now! Can you relate? Or do you think I’m “out to lunch” with my dietary musings? Either way, if you took the time to read this, thank you! -P !!!


Mushroom Suprlus Soup

We have a lot of dried mushrooms we’ve dehydrated, so to use some up, today I blended…
2 cups soaked cashews
4 cups warm water
2 cups dried mushrooms
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp Bragg’s Aminos
1 clove dried garlic

I blended that up, until steaming a bit, in the Vitamix.
Then I threw in one small chopped onion, black pepper and a couple more handfuls of mushrooms and pulsed a few times to mix it up.
Topped with more mushrooms, fresh pea shoots and a few kraut crackers I had leftover.
This made two bowls. Pretty tasty!

As we move along through life, it’s likely that our perspective of what constitutes “good health” will shift over the years. Surely, the six pack abs we were striving for in our 20’s will be less of a focus in our 80’s, and feeling “well” begins to be the marker by which we gauge our health, rather than any aesthetic standards we may have once imposed upon ourselves. The full spectrum of health begins to unfold as we age, and we realize that a weight on the scale or specific physical attribute is not the benchmark of a successful or fulfilling life, but rather, our bodies are reflections of years of varied experiences, habits and beliefs, and there is no “right or wrong” way of pursuing health. It is simply that; a lifelong pursuit.

Friendly Dinner Inspiration

I had about 8 minutes to make us dinner tonight before rushing off to various activities for the kids. So, when Darren arrived home from DC with gifts in hand from our friend, Carla, including this simple “Latin Style” purple cabbage salad made with just lime and salt, I was inspired to combine some with avocado and a few flax crackers for a perfect quick meal! Bueni­simo!

Green Tea Revival

I can tell I’m struggling to balance my family and school schedules with sleep these days, because green tea has made its way back into my diet in the form of this drink most afternoons, as I launch into studying. I’m loving this matcha powder, blended with a tiny bit of fat (usually a Brazil nut or two, or tsp of coconut butter), a pinch of sea salt, 1/2 tsp vanilla powder, a tsp of maca powder and a little green stevia liquid drops). Smooth!

Two Ingredient Smoothie

We have a bunch of nectarines that my mom gifted us, so we’ve been using them in creative ways. Today was a simple smoothie… nectarines blended with frozen mango… Can’t get much easier than that, and the kids gave it two thumbs up! Flo was unconcerned with my attempts to take pretty pictures for Facebook and decided to become part of my smoothie photo session! Cheers! 🙂

Baby Banana Breakfast

How did I not remember these are so good? They taste so much better than “regular” bananas. I haven’t had just bananas for breakfast in a long time, but, today I had no time, and these were the only fruit in the house. So, I grabbed them to eat on the run, expecting to just satisfy my hunger with a less-than-exciting meal. I was pleasantly surprised. Yum!