The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

IMG_3724 For Christmas last year I received a wonderful book from Sara about tidying up and organizing by Marie Kondo.  This book discusses a thing that’s near and dear to my heart, decluttering & tidying.   Based on  zen philosophy and a childhood interest in being organized, Marie Kondo  started a consulting company to help people tidy.  She wrote the book to help people get organized when the wait list for her consulting company was becoming more than a 6 month wait.  It is based on the principle of only keeping the things that really bring joy to your life.  This principle seems like a simple one but with her” guidance ” I will try and turn my home into a place filled with things that bring joy.   Journey with me as I endeavor to see what all this “decluttering” hubbub is all about as I learn the “Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.”

Slow Cooker Kalua Pig recipe


I love Kalua Pig!  It reminds me of Hawaii!  But if you are craving Kalua Pig and can’t jet over to Hawaii, this recipe from Nom Nom Paleo Food For Humans is the next best thing.  It’s salty, savory, and absolutely delicious.  What’s even better is that you use your crockpot.  It’s December people! Let’s get those crock pots going.

Slow Cooker Kalua Pig recipe 

(adapted from Nom Nom Paleo)

Ingredients :

5 lb. Pork shoulder or pork butt(bone in or boneless)

3 slices of bacon

1 TBSP liquid smoke(optional)

1 1/2 TBSP Alaea Hawaiian Red coarse sea salt or 1 TBSP Alaea Hawaiian Red Fine sea salt

3 – 5 cloves of garlic(optional)

Directions :

1.  Line the bottom of the crock pot with the 3 bacon slices.

2.  Peel cloves of garlic and cut the garlic crosswise into small slices.  Make a number of small slits all over the ends and top of the pork(big enough to fit a slice of garlic).  Insert the garlic slices into the slits.


3.  Rub the pork with the 1 TBSP liquid smoke.

4.  Sprinkle 1 1/2 TBSP Alaea Hawaiian Red Coarse sea salt all over the pork.

5.  Place pork on top of the bacon slices.

6.  Cook on low heat for 16 hours.  Don’t add any water.


7.  After pork is cooked for 16 hours, remove the pork to a plate.

8.  Using 2 forks shred pork.  Check pork for taste and adjust by adding some of the cooking liquid.  Don’t shred pork in the cooking liquid.  It’s way too salty.

9.  Now enjoy!  Happy New Year!

Sausalito – Heath Ceramics and Fish


Sausalito is one of my favorite cities in the bay area!  During the Thanksgiving break, Fred and I hit Heath Ceramics, my absolute favorite shop for tableware and tile.  They make their pottery here at their Sausalito site and have an annual sale every November with everything in the store discounted 20%.  The best part of the Heath annual sale are the seconds(tableware that is not perfect).  Heath discounts the seconds and then takes an additional 20% off.  The seconds have some minor flaws but are totally beautiful for using at home or giving as a gift.  There are one of a kind and seasonal pottery too.   Melissa, my younger daughter,  said that she likes them better because they have character.


Beautiful Heath Ceramics seconds


The second reason to visit Sausalito is Fish.  Fish is a seafood restaurant(obviously) that has my favorite Portuguese red chowder.  It’s a tomato based clam chowder with linguica, cilantro, smoked paprika, and watercress.  It is simply delicious!  Fish uses sustainable fish and everyone eats outside on picnic tables and drinks out of Mason jars.  The view of the Marina is just beautiful!  Fish is a cash only restaurant but they have an ATM inside.





Best Paleo Pumpkin and Carrot muffins


I looked in my veggie drawer today and found a bag of carrots! Should I make a French carrot salad from David Leibovitz’s My Paris Kitchen? No! I craved something sweet, spicy, and with a hint of fall.  I found the answer to satisfy my craving (and use some of my bag of carrots) in this perfect recipe from Nom Nom Paleo’s blog, Paleo Pumpkin and Carrot Muffins.  These muffins have a special secret ingredient, Five Spice.  Five Spice is an Asian spice combo made of Cinnamon, Star Anise, Fennel, Cloves, and Szechuan Peppercorn.  My jar of Five Spice also had Ginger, Licorice, and White Pepper.  That’s more than 5 spices but who’s counting.  This sweet and savory spice mix adds just the right pizzazz to these delicious muffins.

Recently, Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo fame hosted a Pop up Paleo Brunch at the Departure restaurant in Portland, OR.  The chef of Departure,  Gregory Gourdet,  is a current contestant on this season’s Top Chef Boston.  He created this wonderful recipe and served it at the Pop Up Brunch.  These muffins are some of  the best muffins I’ve had in a very long time.

Best Paleo Pumpkin and Carrot Muffins

Makes 12 muffins


3 large eggs at room temperature
4 medium carrots, grated and squeezed of juice (final volume: 1½ cups shredded carrots)
1½ cups almond flour, spooned and leveled
1½ teaspoons five spice powder (if you must, you can substitute pumpkin spice blend)
1 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
¾ cup canned pumpkin purée
½ cup local honey
2 tablespoons almond butter
1 teaspoon melted coconut oil, and a bit extra for greasing the muffin tin if not using paper liners
1 tablespoon sliced almonds
1 tablespoon toasted pumpkin seeds


Muffin tin
Paper muffin liners (optional)
Silicone liners (optional)
Grater or food processor
Cheesecloth or dish towel
Mixing bowls
Measuring cups
Measuring spoons
Cookie scoop


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degree F.  Place the rack in the middle position of the oven. Make sure to remove the eggs from the refrigerator so that eggs are at room temperature when blending the liquid ingredients or the result may get chunky.

Line muffin pan with paper liners.

2.  Peel the skin off of the carrots.  Grate peeled carrots by hand or food processor.

3.  Place the freshly grated carrots into a piece of doubled cheesecloth or a clean dish towel.  Gather up sides of the cloth and wring out excess carrot juice.  Set aside for later.

4.  In a large bowl whisk together : almond meal, Five spice, baking soda, cream of tartar, ground cinnamon, and sea salt.

5.  In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs well.  Mix in the pumpkin, honey, almond butter, and melted coconut oil.  Make sure all these ingredients are room temperature to insure a smooth batter.  Cold ingredients could cause the melted coconut oil to harden and clump up.

6.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until combined.

7.  Fold in carrots.

8.  Scoop the batter evenly into the muffin tins, filling them about ¾ full.


9,  Sprinkle top of muffins with pumpkin seeds and sliced almonds.

10.  Bake muffins for 15 minutes.  Rotate muffin pan 180 degrees.  Bake an additional 15 minutes.  (Total baking time = 30 minutes).

11.  Muffins are done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean and tops feel springy to the touch.

12.  Cool the muffin pan on a rack for 5 minutes.

13.  Pop out the muffins and let them continue to cool completely on the wire rack.

Bon Appetit!

Oprah’s The Life You Want Weekend San Jose


Going to Oprah’s The Life You Want Weekend San Jose started out as a whim.  I am a Facebook fan of the writer, Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love).   She sent a post to all her Facebook fans that she was going to be speaking on an 8 city tour with Oprah.  I had recently finished her latest book “The Signature of All Things”, which was just wonderful!  I finished her book in 2 days and those of you who know me know that I am not an avid or speedy reader but it was so good that I couldn’t  put down until I finished it.  I decided to go to Oprah’s The Life You Want weekend  San Jose and invited my sister, Susie to join me for a weekend with Oprah & Liz.  I had a wonderful sister weekend!  Thanks Susie!

As our weekend approached, I was very curious about what our Oprah  weekend would entail and what O town(Oprah town) would be like.  We got a schedule with times for the events taking place at the SAP Center and O town.  We decided to stay over at the Cypress Hotel in Cupertino to be closer to the SAP Center for an early Saturday morning O town visit.  O town opened at 7 am on Saturday.  The Cypress Hotel is about a 20 minute drive to the SAP Center but is reasonably priced, with wonderful staff, and ample self parking.


To start off our Oprah weekend, we went for lunch at one of my sister’s favorite ramen restaurants, Orenchi in Santa Clara. The weather was cool and a little chilly, just perfect fall weather for a steaming hot bowl of ramen.  Orenchi is a very popular Japanese ramen shop. There are always very large crowds of people waiting for a bowl of their delicious ramen.  There are 3 kinds of savory soups : tonkotsu (thick pork), shio (salt) , and shoyu (soy sauce).  We enjoyed our shoyu ramen especially after waiting outside for 45 minutes. But It was so worth the wait.  Orenchi  definitely makes the best ramen in the Bay Area.

After our delicious ramen lunch, we decided to see if we could check in early since we were very close to our hotel.  They had no rooms available at that time but they said we could leave drop off luggage and check in later.  So we headed over to the Cypress and our front desk person, Rocky, helped us tag our luggage. We decided to look around the hotel and have a glass of complimentary flavored water(lemon, orange, or cucumber).  In a few minutes, Rocky came to find us and said our room just finished cleaning and we could check in.  I had a feeling that we were going to have a “good” karma day.

We left Cupertino and headed over to the SAP Center to pick up our O wristbands and tour O town.  The O wristbands were stretchy white plastic wristbands that were required to enter O town.  There was not much of a line to pick up our O wristbands but after waiting in line for 5 minutes the line was all the way around the entire block.  Shades of things to come.  After getting our O wrist bands, we headed over to O town.

O town was totally astonishing!  There were so many people.  The majority of people in O town were women but there were quite a few men as well. Every nationality was represented :  Black, White, Asian, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, Indian, and LGBT.  Young and old,  mothers and daughters, sisters, couples, and friends, all coming to hear Oprah speak later that evening. People were very friendly, courteous, helpful, and were enjoying being there.


O town consisted of many huge white tents.  Each tent had a sponsor.  Ikea had a room decorating and room arranging seminar with free Ikea  blue bags.  Olay had free head massages and make up consultations as well as free cosmetics.  In the center of O town was a  huge red, orange, and yellow O that you could take a picture in.  There was a center stage was filled with various types of performances such as singers, a comedian, a fashion show featuring Stanford cheerleaders, and dancers.  We really wanted to see Art Smith, a Southern chef who is frequently on Top Chef.  We found out that he was Oprah’s personal chef for 8 years.    We also got to see Iyanla Vanzant, a healer who helps people with their relationships.  She was speaking on Saturday along with Elizabeth Gilbert as one of Oprah’s “trailblazers”.   She was extremely funny as she answered the audience’s questions.  She was a blast!  I was surprised that our two hours in O town went by so quickly.


My sister told me that my parents had been big fans of Oprah and watched her show faithfully.  I didn’t even know that until this weekend.   In the past, I had watched Oprah’s show a little but didn’t really know very much about her.

DJ Kiss played such great music before Oprah’s speech!  The whole audience was dancing, clapping, and singing along.  She played Michael Jackson, Katy Perry, Beyonce, Earth, Wind, and Fire, and so many great songs.

Just then Oprah entered the stage, our O wristbands lit up and flashed different colors : Red, Green, Blue, and white.  It was like a glow stick but flashed in sync with the music.  Everyone stood up and applauded.    I found out later that Oprah’s weekend was sold out with over 10,000 people in the audience.

But in her 2 hour talk that she gave on Friday night, she told us about her life.  She began from her childhood in Mississipi up to her present life.  She was such a dynamic, interesting,  and humorous speaker.

Her grandmother was a maid for a white family in Mississippi that gave them their extra clothes and food.  They had no running water.  Her grandmother told Oprah that she hoped Oprah would find a nice whilte family like the ones that she worked for.  Oprah said she was thinking at the age of five  “uh uh” that she wasn’t going to be a maid but decided not to tell her grandma about that.


Oprah thanked her grandmother for teaching her to read and write.  When her grandma was too ill to take care of a six year old, Oprah moved to Detroit to live with her mother.  She was in shock on her first day of  kindergarten.  Not only were all the children white but they were playing with ABC blocks.  She decided to write her teacher a letter.  Dear Miss … I do not think I should be in this class because I can read and write.  She wrote a long list of all the complicated words  that she knew… hippopotamus, invictus, …  Her teacher took her to the principal and they made her read and write again.  The next day she was moved to 1st grade.


She spoke of the many difficulties that she overcame in her life.  She was raped at 9 years old and pregnant at 14.   She was sent to live with her father and he told her that one thing can’t happen in his house, teen pregnancy.  Little did she know that she was pregnant.  When she lost her baby soon after his birth, her father told her that  God had given her a second  chance and she should make the best of it.

In her two hour talk, she discussed her life as a broadcast journalist, her 25 years on Oprah show, the Color Purple movie, Maya Angelou, and her new current cable network OWN.  She will be producing a movie called SELMA (Martin Luther King’s march).  She was mesmerizing, confident, humorous, and a very moving speaker.  If you ever have a chance to hear her speak, I wholeheartedly recommend going.

Early Paleo Thanksgiving Menu

Last weekend I went to Whole Foods and got my “sale” (40% off) organic Diestel Heidi’s Hen No GMO turkey.  I decided why not do an early Paleo Thanksgiving.  Turkey is one of Fred’s (my husband) favorites.   We  enjoyed the turkey and froze some for when we have a penchant for turkey in the coming weeks.  Here’s  my early Paleo Thanksgiving Menu and favorite paleo Thanksgiving recipes.

Roast Turkey with Thyme Butter and Fresh Sage

Zenbelly’s Best Ever Paleo Stuffing

Zenbelly’s Acorn Squash with Pears, Butter, & Cinnamon

Paleo pumpkin and maple syrup custards


Roast Turkey with Thyme Butter and Fresh Sage


15 pound turkey (I used a fresh Diestel Organic Heidi’s Hen)

4 ounces butter (I used 1/2 a stick of Kerry’s Gold unsalted butter)

2 TBSP fresh thyme

8 -10 fresh sage leaves

4 sprigs fresh thyme

2 stalks celery

1/2 onion chopped in eighths

1/2 – 1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (optional)


1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2.  Rinse turkey inside & out and pat dry with paper towels.  Remove turkey innards from both neck and turkey body cavity.

3.  Soften butter and add 2 TBSP chopped thyme.  Add salt if desired.

4. Loosen the skin above the turkey body cavity with your fingers.  Spread about a third to half of thyme butter mixture under the turkey skin all over as far back as you can reach.

5. Gently push each fresh sage leaf under the skin as far back as you can reach on each side of turkey breast.  Arrange sage leaves in a pattern under the turkey skin (four leaves per each side). This will look very beautiful after the turkey is cooked.

6.  Rub some thyme mixture in the turkey cavity.  Fill turkey cavity with a 1/2 -1 lemon, 4 springs of thyme, celery stalks and onion.  Truss the turkey legs with kitchen twine.  Tuck the neck skin underneath the turkey.  Rub the rest of the thyme butter all over the entire outside of the turkey.  Place turkey on a rack set in a large roasting pan.

7.  Cook at 425 degrees F for 1/2 hour.  Make sure to check if your turkey is too  brown too quickly after 15-20 minutes of cooking.  If the turkey is getting too brown, tent the turkey with tin foil to prevent further browning.

8.  Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue to bake turkey for 2 1/2 more hours. Total estimated cooking time is about 3 – 3 1/2 hours total.  Baste turkey with the melted butter from the bottom of the pan every 1/2 hour.  Start checking turkey temperature after 1 1/2 hours.  Use an instant read thermometer.   The temperature should be at least 165 degrees F under the thickest part of the thigh when turkey is done.  Be sure thermometer is not touching the bone.

9.  When done let the turkey rest for 20 minutes before carving.  Save the pan juices for pan gravy.


Zenbelly’s Best Ever Paleo Stuffing

One of my favorite Paleo food blogs is Zenbelly.  I used her Best Ever Paleo Stuffing recipe and substituted Italian Sausage for ground pork.  I would increase the amount of fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, and fresh sage by another teaspoon each.  I added 1 cup pecans, which gave the stuffing a lot of crunch which I recommend.  The texture of the stuffing is wonderful!  This is an excellent addition to your paleo Thanksgiving menu.


Zenbelly’s Acorn Squash with Pears, Butter, & Cinnamon

This  Acorn Squash with Pears, Butter, & Cinnamon recipe is one of my new fall favorites.  The acorn squash looks so elegant with the pear slices filling the center.  It’s  super easy to make.  I’ve substituted a Granny Smith apple for the pear slices with the result similar to a baked apple in the center of the acorn squash.  Very delicious!


Paleo pumpkin and maple syrup custards

For dessert I recommend my Paleo pumpkin and maple syrup custards recipe.  They are delicious and can be topped with whipped cream, whipped coconut cream, or coconut chips.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday & enjoy!

2014 San Francisco Giants World Series Parade


The San Francisco Giants are my absolute favorite baseball team.  When they won the 2014 World Series on Wednesday, I knew that I just had to go to their parade in San Francisco.  I had missed the two previous 2010 and 2012 World Series parades, so I was determined not to miss this year’s parade. The parade was scheduled for noon on Halloween, which was perfect because the Giants colors are orange and black.  All summer long there has been a terrible drought here in California and everyone wants it to rain.  But not on the day the Giants parade!  Despite the gloomy weather forecast, my neighbor, Clare and I ventured out to see my favorite team careen down Market street.

We decided to take BART (our mass transit) to San Francisco.  Our BART car was filled with so many Giants fans!  From babies to seniors, kids, men, women, families, all going to support their favorite team. All these Giants fans were in the best of moods and gave their advice on where was the best place to view the parade.   There were two options:  go to the Ferry Building which was where the parade would begin or go to the Civic Center where the Giants ceremony would be held.  The Ferry Building is a wonderful bit of San Francisco filled with delicious restaurants(Slanted Door), shops like Heath Ceramics, Boccalone(best salami), Acme Bread(delicious bread), Cowgirl Creamery(best cheese – try Mt. Tam), Miette(great macaroons), Delica(Japanese deli), and of course you can catch the Ferry there.

Our dilemma was solved when we decided to head toward the Ferry Building.  We exited at the Embarcadeo BART Station and made our way to Market Street.  Market Street was decorated with wonderful orange and black Giants World Series Championship banners.    Giants fans,  young and old,  were decked out in their favorite Giants garb(orange and black).  How convenient that Giants colors were also perfect for Halloween festivities later that evening.

We ended up near the intersection of Davis, Pine, and Market Street across from the PG&E building.  It was a little chilly and it was raining off and on but everyone around us was in such a very happy mood.  A woman in an orange Panda hat and two young women who were Madison Bumgarner fans were very friendly and funny.   The young Madison Bumgarner(MADBUM) fans even made orange signs for him.  They were one of the few “lucky” ones who got free pairs of black “MADBUM” jockey undies that they were giving away.  They were wearing their MADBUM undies to the parade.  There was a woman in a wheel chair who brought her whole family.   Her daughter told her mom, “Mom this is the best! So much better than what we would have done at school.  Thanks for bringing me!.”  Everyone was filled with good cheer and with anticipation for the parade.


MADBUM fans!  Finally after much waiting the parade began!


Buster Posey


Santiago Casilla and Buster Posey


Hunter Strickland and Tim Hudson


Pablo (Panda) Sandoval


Madison Bumgarner (MadBum)


Hunter Pence


Tim Lincecum and Javier Lopez

After the wonderful parade, we went to peruse the Ferry Building and to get some lunch at Delica, Japanese deli.  It was the best Giants parade ever!  Go Giants!