Category Archives: health

interview series moving forward and some reflective thoughts

unicorn portland

Last year was one full of great changes for me.

David and I left Phoenix to move to Portland at the very end of February. I had lived in Phoenix my entire life. My original plan was to move after college, but it took a little over ten years.

We went from owning a large home to renting a small (725 sq ft!) house! We learned and are still learning to pare down what we have. It helps that we don’t live close to any big box stores full of inexpensive and tempting things. There’s a sense of accomplishment to let go of things we’ve been holding on to both physically and emotionally.

After finally getting my health under control in 2012 and moving at the beginning of 2013, I was finally able to get a job in a new career. I am so grateful for those who saw my potential and ignored my lack of experience. I am grateful for the teammates who help me with the steep learning curve everyday and make my job a fun place to work. I am full of joy to move forward and learn new skills and grow. Thank you: Jarnigan, Jesse, Wael, Jordan, John, Kenny, Mike, Ian, Robert, Lucas, Matt, Will, Grant, Raul, Charlie, Mel and Alison.

I am thankful for my friends and family who have visited me here in Portland bringing pieces of home. I love showing my new city to you. I still have so much to discover each day about this magical place full of artists, trees, and quirky shops. Oh and the food. Thank you Tom, Sarah, Jill, John, Stacy, Erica, James, Tim, Anke, Judy, Chanelle, Gabe, Susan, and Bree. (Am I forgetting anyone?)

And speaking of food, what a perfect city for me! Restaurants that label their menu with gluten free indicators (GF)! Chefs who understand special diets and embrace the diversity of their patrons! Hooray!

Just under the gun, Stephanie slid into Portland. She left Phoenix before I did, but overshot and landed in Seattle. She just moved to the neighborhood last month! I am thrilled to have one of my best friends back again.

We visited Phoenix in May for my little brother’s wedding. It was originally going to be a destination wedding, but they changed their plans. It ended up being just perfect for them: full of friends and family. Dancing, eating, toasting, drinking…so full of emotion and celebration.

I rode my bike to and from work about 10-11 miles round trip along the river on a bike path from the beginning of October to the end of November. So maybe about 460 miles? I suppose that isn’t much for you regular cyclists, but quite a lot for me. I am excited for the mornings to warm up a tad (50 degrees please!) and the sun to extend it’s daylight hours so I can ride again.

In some sense, my blog has suffered because of my new life. I feel compelled to be outside so often. I love exploring and when I am at home, I like to unwind with my knitting. I have met so many wonderful people here though, so I want to continue my interview series and increase the frequency. I can’t believe I only interviewed three people in 2013!

2013 Interviews




2012 Interviews:






2011 Interviews:












2010 Interviews:






interview series! jessa!

I first met Jessa through my work at Liberty Market. I run the twitter and facebook, so there are a lot of people that I interact with pretty regularly even if they don’t know it’s me right away. Jessa and her husband Dan were coming to almost every single community dinner that Liberty Market ran each month. (I think maybe they missed one?) So, I would chat with them there while I was taking pictures, and eventually we’d get to chatting when we would run into each other during the week as well. Jessa is someone who runs hot! She’s always got several pokers in the fire-she’s making things happen!

(more photos from the May 2012 community dinner found here.)


Jamie: Tell us a little about yourself.
Jessa: A favorite quote of mine is “Give me dirt & I’m happy.” 
I’m a country girl living in the city and in my very limited amount of free time, I find myself wheeling & camping with my Toyota FJ to find dirt. Nature is my rock, my home, my everything. When life becomes too much, I find myself in the middle of nowhere soaking it all in and even getting married in it! I am in love with photography so anyone that follows me on Instagram can see who I am and what I like in a nutshell. I’m simple…but complex at the same time since my mind goes a mile a minute. 
I’m not one to talk about myself… But I could go on and on and on.

Jamie: I can relate. I feel so much more connected to myself when I am out in my yard or my community garden. There’s something about the smell and things growing that really centers me. Are you actually from the country or do you just gravitate towards it? I was born in the middle of downtown Phoenix, but sometimes I think that my family’s roots as dairy farmers in upstate New York runs deep. Where did you get married?

Jessa: I was born in Tempe and grew up in Gilbert backing cotton fields and even the well-known Morrison Silos. As a kid I remember the bus ride passing all of the fields and stopping at the small farm houses to pick up the farming kids. I always wanted to be them. My family is originally from Danville, Illinois, and I’ve heard that my great grandparents had a large farm. Must be in my blood…. 

Dan and I are seriously in love with nature, and we couldn’t see getting married anywhere else. In July every year the Toyota FJ Summit happens in Ouray, Colorado, and it just so happened all of our friends were going so we decided to plan a small wedding at the base of Bridal Veil Falls. To get to Bridal Veil Falls, there was an easy option and a hard, scary option-of course we chose the hard scary option of doing Black Bear Pass BEFORE the wedding! Life is Short, live it each and every day! After doing this trail and being two hours late to the “set time” to meet everyone else at the location we were happy to be on flat, stable dirt! We had one of our best friends become a Dudeist Priest online, many friends wore Fuzzy Duds, and we did our own vows around wheeling and nature. It’s a day we will never forget! 

(photo provided by Jessa)

Jamie: So pretty much everyone who knows you, knows that you are the driving force behind The Gilbert Farmer’s Market, but how did that happen? What was the journey leading to it?

Jessa: This is a fun story of how the GFM was born... Yes it’s Dan and my baby! 

Many people know about me because I’m the one behind the social media but my husband, Dan, is the other half to the market that many people don’t know about. We have worked with each other for years so there was no question about this partnership. 

Let’s go back to the summer of 2010. Dan was in real estate working for the banks and I was working with my dad at our family’s popcorn factory. The one and only Bubba’s Popcorn where we create magical Flavors of popcorn like our number top seller’s Dill Pickle, Fruit Stand and of course Windy City. 

My life is always changing, it’s something I’ve accepted since it’s been happening since my childhood. I woke up on Friday morning at 4 a.m. after a dream about a farmers market, and that it was ours! I remember this like it was yesterday, I snuck out of bed and our two rescues followed, I grabbed my laptop and sat on the floor so the dogs wouldn’t wake up Dan. By the time the sun was coming up, I had researched WHERE all of the markets in Arizona were and was ready to go learn as much as I could as fast as I could. One thing I was very strict about from this day was to not solicit at any market and instead grab their contact information and contact them later. I wanted to respect all of the other coordinators, and I still do this today. 

Long story short, we did the necessary research, put together a packet, met with the town of Gilbert, and opened on October 23rd, 2010! 

(picture of early morning at GFM location, taken from the GFM FB page)

Jamie: Wow. That’s really amazing. Most people say they have a dream, but they didn’t really HAVE a dream! So what are the roles that you both play? Was it hard to leave the popcorn factory? (Also, I am imagining it’s exactly like Willy Wonka’s except with popcorn.)

Jessa: The popcorn factory is a smaller version of the Willy Wonka chocolate factory, just with popcorn!    We are currently rebranding ourselves and will have many more products and Flavors coming before the end of the year! Fun stuff is happening and it’s so good to see it finally growing! 

I never really left the factory while I was researching for the market we adjusted a few things and hired people to cover my shift in the factory. I have become more of a behind the scenes owner for the factory.

It’s been a wild ride with the market and I’m just lucky to have done something about the dream I had, what if I hadn’t? Something I always think about now! NEVER talk yourself out of a good idea! 
For the market, Dan and I cover everything together from website building and maintenance, to building a farmers’ market app for iPhones, to social media and paperwork. We have a system where we cross-check each other’s work on a regular basis so everything is very organized. We’re OCD and everything has its place from paperwork to market set up on Saturdays. It’s not an easy job by any means but we enjoy it!

Jamie: Would you like to share an internet link or two?
Jessa: I’d love to! 
My Favorite AZ Rescue, who I used to volunteer at: Friends for Life Animal Rescue

This is one of our favorite towns we have ever visited and believe that everyone should see the beauty! This just happens to be where we got married as well! Ouray, Colorado

One More Link
Fuzzy Duds: The non-official clothing of our wedding! 

My newest favorite site 
We always hope to get a chance to travel to a new place and what better way than to stay with a “local” at their home! SO FUN! 

Thanks Jessa for spending the time answering all my questions! Please feel free to ask her your questions in the comments below!

so you want to plant some seeds…

A lot of people have asked me lately, “Is it time to plant?” and “What should I plant right now?”

Here in Arizona, we are coming out of the dregs of summer. If you were dedicated, you may still have some plants in your garden that are thriving: peppers, chiles, eggplant, okra, and melons or squash. The rest of you have a bunch of dried up sticks. But never fear! It’s time to bust out the shovels and rakes once again! It’s time to plant all the things!

What do I plant?:

-leafy greens: including lettuce, kale, spinach, swiss chard, celery, mustard, bok choy, arugula, parsley, cilantro (all of these grow GREAT in pots too, so if you are one of those people with no actual “garden” then plant these (seeds are fine) and stick them in full sun.) You don’t need to cut the head either, you just pull the leaves off the plant and it keeps making more! Neverending salad! Also, swiss chard is an amazing one to have because not only is it a good looking plant, but you can eat the leaves in a salad or saute them with butter and garlic. I find the leaves to have a nice umami flavor-it’s a bit salty.

-broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower: And if you usually don’t like these, it’s probably because you’ve never had it fresh. These particular vegetables get really bitter when old. So give it a go.

-root vegetables: carrots (rainbow variety is fun!), parsnips, radishes, turnips, BEETS!!!!

-snowpeas and peas

-onions, leeks, garlic

How do I plant them?:

You need to ask yourself some questions:

-Where do I have FULL SUN? This means sun all of the day? None of this shady area of the yard nonsense or morning sun stuff-winter vegetables need ALL OF THE SUN.

-In this sunny area, will a garden bed fit or am I going with pots?

-How much money do I have? Starting from seeds is the cheapest way to go. But, you get the most production from plants starts. (Also, in order to get Brussel sprout production, you need to start with starter plants. Trust me, the season just isn’t long enough in Phoenix for the plant to develop sprouts. Garden beds can be as expensive and elaborate or as basic and cheap as you want. You will need to and compost and soil amendments to your soil. And a can of earthworms doesn’t hurt either. You can get your soil tested to be super scientific if you are into that, but I’m really lazy, so I would just dig up that part of the yard and add in as many bags of compost that you can afford.

-Drip system or hose watering?

Once you figure out what and where, it’s how:

Next, is the actual shoving seeds into the ground part. This sounds easy, but it actually takes a long time. It’s super fidgety. Go get yourself some wooden shims or stakes and a sharpie too so you can label all the things.

-Open your packets with scissors. (organic seeds are way awesomer, so buy them from a nursery or the internets) Tearing the packets open gets seeds caught in them.

-You pretty much follow the planting instructions on the packet. (But the general rule is the tinier the seed, the closest to the top of the soil it goes.) Almost every seed will sprout, but not always. You plant and bunch of seeds, you wait and wait until you think nothing is ever going to happen, then they all start coming up and you have to “thin” them. This means, you have to rip out a whole bunch of sprouts so as they grow into plants, they don’t crowd each other out. Expect this especially with carrots. Those stupid seeds are so tiny, and if you don’t accidentally spill half of them, you’ll lose your mind at another point and simply start sprinkling them down anyway.

-Water water water. Seeds in the ground=watering three to four times a day. You have to keep the soil moist until the seeds sprout and the roots develop. Once that happens (they look like little plants, then you can back off on the watering.

From here, it’s a matter of thinning and weeding. Any questions?

some changes

i’ve basically been exhausted my whole life starting in my teens. maybe it has been the cumulative effect of years of homework and late night shifts with too much caffeine; maybe at some point i contracted the epstein-barre virus-who knows? but the result was a long wearing fatigue, a litany of various meds or vitamins i could experiment with, and the accompanying depression. not to mention, the lack of clarity of thought and the inability to really direct a course for my life.

the journey has been extremely frustrating both physically and mentally.

a little over over a month ago, i decided to try the paleo diet to address the energy issue since so many people reported that theirs improved when they switched to a paleo diet.

things have certainly improved. i don’t suffer from the mental fog i was really struggling against. my energy levels are up. my skin seems to be improved. i feel happier. my legs don’t ache like they used to. i’ve lost a little weight. i get to eat bacon and wings.

i won’t say that i am 100% better, but i am on my way. and this way of eating although difficult at times, somehow seems right to me. there’s a ton of information out there on the internet, and i encourage you to check it out. you’ll find that there are a million stories far more interesting than mine: tales of great weight loss and stories of vanishing disease. i suppose it sounds too good to be true, but if you are struggling with a health issue, i encourage you to look into this way of eating.

here are some links to get you started:




in the garden march 2011

brussel sprouts: these grow along the inner stalk. they are fantastic roasted or steamed then fried. never boiled.

fennel sits on top of the earth. i like to roast mine and eat it with salt and pepper.

this is a type of cauliflower called romanesco. it’s florets are fractal shaped. hands down best when roasted till it has browned edges. it also has a sweet taste when fresh. and when i say fresh, i mean in season or from the garden. store cauliflower that has sat for awhile has a bitter bite to it.

fresh eggs


I went to the downtown Chandler farmer’s market last Thursday after a long period of not going.  It used to consist of a single overpriced farmer.  This time, I was overjoyed to find fresh eggs, meyer lemons, key limes, and many more vendors.  Thank you, Chandler.


I have been so sick.  I have cabin fever.  Stuck in the house, head congestion, sinus pressure, coughing, sneezing…ugh.  I am so sad because I thought I would be better today.  Everyone went to the Renaissance Festival to celebrate Wendi’s birthday.  I know I will still get to go, but I was hoping to go with them.  I am feeling sorry for myself.  Instead, I will post a picture of me at the Faire on a better day: