Oranges, Onions, and a Margin of Lust: Michelle’s Memorial Saturday Retreat

When overwhelm turned into a noun, I took notice. It no longer modified my life, but had become a thing in my life. As an unrepentant adrenaline junky, I continued on till overwhelm became a verb. Yes, I actually used it as a verb four times. It had moved from unwelcome visitor into a crushing force.

Time to take action.

I prayed, I did self talk, I got cranky with people, I lightened the load where I could, and I made decisions. Then I missed deadlines, prayed more, absolved more, and worked instead of sleeping.

For the holiday weekend, I decided that my one free day, Saturday, would be a retreat and a day to reboot spiritually, mentally, and physically. I would work on only one thing and focus on refreshment.

I went for a walk, did some shopping, did my lower body strength training, read over 170 pages in Greta Boris’s A Margin of Lust (love this book), had a lovely breakfast, lunch, and dinner sitting in the garden, stretched, did bills, and a wee bit of marketing and promotions.

I didn’t want to spend a lot of time working on food prep during my retreat, but I juiced half of a papaya with mint leaves. I enjoyed a small glass of it with my lunch and dinner.

Retreat menu:

Breakfast: a slice of manna bread with nut spread, a peach half, and lavender coffee.

Lunch: 3 inches of a Vegan subway sandwich, a chunk of cold boiled sweet potato, and 4 ounces of lentil soup with onion from the garden.

Dinner: hummus, olive tapenade, and tabouli on half of a wheat English muffin with orange and cucumber slices. A small portion of homemade coleslaw made of rainbow cabbage, vegan mayo, and a splash of maple syrup.

Snacks: cherries and roasted peas.

I had forgotten what it was like to eat a meal without doing something else instead. I actually had to tell myself not to bring my computer or a magazine or my phone or a book or the bills or knitting. It was lovely to sit in the garden and think of nothing or of everything. To listen to the breeze or watch a hummingbird in the lavender or a lizard on the wall.

How did you spend your memorial day weekend?

I’m very grateful to feel more centered this week. Wishing you peace,

Michelle Knowlden

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Real Action Heroes

Mother’s Day 2017
I am weary of people complaining about who is in office, repeating commentators’ rhetoric without checking the facts, and wildly extrapolating dire outcomes without doing an objective analysis. If you are one of those people, may I suggest something?

Do something positive.

Instead of wasting valuable time whinging, educate yourself. Read all sides of the issues. Have an informed opinion rather than parroting something you heard on the news.

Then do something.

Campaign for someone you respect and will well serve your community or country. Write a letter. Circulate a useful petition. Work in a polling booth. Donate money to worthy causes. Support by donating time, skills, and dollars to what you are passionate about. Build character in the next generation.

My mother often complains about politicians and issues, but I listen to her even when I don’t agree. Why? Because she’s earned the right to be heard.

She campaigned for Adlai Stevenson. She wrote letters to senators, presidents, and corporations. She sent us kids around the neighborhood to collect signatures on petitions. She supported Caesar Chavez with peaceful protests and boycotts.

She worked at polling booths. Contributed often to worthy causes, sometimes with money, sometimes by volunteering. She was a brownie leader, a bluebird leader, and ran my brother’s Boy Scout troop, worked in the church office, and led ministries at church. She replicated her values in her daughters and sons.

She raised four children, one with Downs Syndrome, and worked outside the home for corporations, non-government organizations, and local governments.

Mom, thank you for making a difference in our lives, in our community, and in our nation. I love you.

And Happy Mother’s Day.

Michelle Knowlden



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Jacarandas in May: An Unforgettable Californian Sight With Tips

The sight of those flaming lavender flowers on the Jacaranda trees in May will freeze one in midstep, but the bloom is so fleeting that I forget all about them till the trees are ablaze again.

I’m sure the tree owners don’t forget. Signs immediately go up on their doors: Remove Shoes Before Entering. The stains they leave on rugs are indelible. I know this because the tan carpet in my first car had dark blotches. All subsequent cars have black interiors.

Not for jacaranda reasons, I called the second book in the Abishag mystery series Indelible Beats.  It takes place at Christmas time. The cover includes a picture of a Jacaranda tree, because I see more of those at Christmas time than I do of traditional Christmas trees.

Do you have a tree that has left indelible memories in you? Please share in the comments.

Other news this week …


Sinking Ships Cover with Eric's pictureMay Good Deal tip: The first Abishag mystery is available at Amazon for 99cents.

May Health tip: Try diced celery in your morning oatmeal. It’s a lovely way to add veggies in your diet and it has a satisfying crunch.

May Recycling tip: Thawing berries? Save the water you thawed the berries in and drink it later. Sixteen ounces of pure goodness and you’ve reduced your carbon footprint.

May Minimalism tip: Use dried beans rather than canned. Your soaking bean water can be re-used in soups. You can prep exactly the amount of beans you need. Less money and waste. More healthy for you.

Happy reading, saving, and eating!

Michelle Knowlden

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I Finished Camp NaNoWriMo and I Love to Plot Three is Live!

I finished Camp NaNo today.  I had meant to focus April on two things, completing a vampire novella and write a suspense romance novel. As always, priorities change. I did start the suspense novel, I approached the 25K mark in the vampire novella, and I heavily edited 29 chapters of my mystery novel Olive Tomorrow.

I’ll wear my badge proudly.

In other news, my I Love to Plot series ended with the posting of I Love to Plot: The Play.  If you’d like to plot the easy and fun way, read all three articles at the OC Writers network.

In The Play, I use Egrets, I’ve Had a Few novella as an example. The second book in the Deluded Detective series is available for $1.99 at

Happy reading!

Michelle Knowlden

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Doing Something Positive on Earth Day 2017

Earth Day 2017

Forget the hype, the litter left after the fundraiser marches, and the flood of sometimes dicey statistics, graphs, and theories of pseudoscientists. Let’s get real.

Stop talking, protesting, and Facebooking about what everyone else is NOT doing. Take action. Be a good steward. Do something to protect the environment.

Do something!

I have been a vegetarian since 2004. On 02 January 2017, I went hardcore: plant-based, whole foods diet. Mostly because of this:

Did you know that the meat industry is responsible for approximately 20% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions? In fact, producing one calorie of meat requires nearly twenty times the amount of energy as one plant calorie!

With global meat consumption tripling over the last four decades, the meat industry now emits over 36 billion tons of greenhouse gases annually and is showing no signs of slowing down. If we want to make a real dent in the world’s carbon footprint and reduce our own personal footprint, we need to eat less meat.

Join us in taking the pledge to not eat meat one day a week and become a part of the Meatless Monday movement!*

I read an odd statistic that said one person going meatless on Mondays was like ten people buying a Prius. Not sure if that makes sense. What does make sense is that I’ve been carrying the load of all the bacon burger eating Prius owners for fourteen years.

You’re welcome.

Going vegan is only one thing I do, but I need to get back to editing or I’d ramble on about kitchen gardens, compost piles, re-purposing clothing, grey water, oat milk, and berry soaks, and other ways I minimize my carbon footprint.

But enough about me! What are you doing to nurture God’s good earth? I really want to know.

Happy reading, eating, and doing something positive.

Michelle Knowlden



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Edits, Porridge, and a Fool’s Day Hike

While on a marathon edit session today of my mystery Olive Tomorrow, I decided to optimize my breakfast porridge prep. A half hour before I intended to eat, I half-filled a 16 ounce canning jar with Coach oats and added water nearly to the top. After capping the jar, I shook it every time I was in the kitchen. I also poured a half cup of frozen berries in a glass and topped with water to thaw. In my breakfast bowl, I added a tbsp of ground flax seed, tbsp of chia seeds, 1/3 banana, shredded coconut, fresh, shredded basil leaf, a dash of cinnamon and a dash of cardamom.  When I was ready to eat, I poured the thickened oats into the bowl with the oat milk. I added the thawed berries without the water. No cooking or pots to clean. Healthy, vegan, and tasty!

In Indelible Beats, my second Abishag mystery, Leslie and her friends savor hot oatmeal and the winter holidays while waiting for her “husband” to die. That oatmeal was based on a crockpot recipe that they also doctored with herbs, seeds, berries, and nuts.

A friend who lives in Africa taught me about refrigerator oatmeal which you can make the night before. My recipe here is based on that, but is room temp and refreshing for hot summer mornings. You can find both the refrigerator and crockpot oatmeal recipes at the allrecipe and fitness pal sites. If you have a better one, please leave the info in the comments. Let’s get heart healthy and save the planet in 2017!

While I was in Prescott, Arizona a few weeks ago, I did a hike on April Fools’ Day. The hike was part of the rails to trails program on the Watson Lake Loop.  The hike took me about two hours 15 minutes to trek half of the loop and return to the Humane Society parking lot. I did stop often to take pictures because the scenery was spectacular. I heartily recommend this hike. It was fun to see where train passengers of the old west traveled. The trail that Saturday was not crowded or noisy, but we saw a goodly number of hikers of all ages, some with dogs.

Back to the edits. I finished chapter five before lunch. On to chapter six!

Happy writing, walking, reading and eating.

Michelle Knowlden

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Saving the Planet: A Day of Meals Part Two


If every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetables and grains … the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off the US roads. Environmental Defense Fund

Studies show that eating can affect our environment. No matter your beliefs on climate change, we should be good stewards of our planet and minimize our carbon footprint, right?

Since 2004, I’ve been experimenting with healthier and more mindful attitudes about health, the environment, climate change, God, compassion for animals and other cultures.

With encouragement from my brother, recent studies and my doctor, I returned to my whole foods, plant based eating on 02 January 2017. As of 25 March 2017, I’ve lost fifteen pounds (those three months include 11 vacation days and a cruise!) and feel fabulous. Check out part one for more details on how it will save my life and yours.


According to a 2006 study, raising chickens, pigs, cows, and other animals for food contributes nearly one-fifth (18%) of all global human-induced greenhouse gas emissions. A quick Google research reveals that the US has 90-108 million dairy and beef cattle, 68 million pigs and hogs, and 250 million egg-laying hens. Nine billion birds, pigs, and cows are killed for human consumption each year.

These days I’m reducing my contribution to detrimental effects to the environment by not putting animals are on my plate!

To find out how this will save the planet, check out Food Choices and Cowspiracy documentaries and these websites: Methane Impact on Climate Control, Sustainable Management of Food,, and Environmental Impact of Meat.

Below is a typical day of meals for me. The variety of whole food, plant based choices out there is endless. I hope to share more later. I hope you share yours with me!



Yellow Corn Grits: prepare per directions or as I do, in a rice cooker.  Stir once or twice. My family will then add soy milk or almond milk, but I prefer it plain. Mix with a 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen berries (thawed), tbsp of ground flax seed, tbsp of chia seeds, flaked organic coconut, and a dash or four of cinnamon.  All to your taste of course.


Hummus Open-Face Sandwich;  Use half of a toasted Food for Life English muffin. Spread hummus with a generous hand. Use your own chickpea dip or one of the great prepared ones out there. I like Trader Joe’s’ Chunky Olive Hummus dip. Top with olive tapenade OR tabouli salad and shredded basil leaves to taste. Sides: sliced carrots and cucumber. Dessert: handful of dried Turkish apricots and six macadamia nuts.


Mixed nut butter and fruit spread sandwich Use your preferred Food for Life bread. I like the cinnamon raisin.


Vegetables soup and salad for a chilly night.  My grandma called this hobo stew. I call it “clean out the fridge” soup. To a pot of veggie broth, add left over cans of beans, rice, mushrooms, chunked cabbage, shredded onion, and other veggies you may have like sweet potato or russets or zucchini. Bring to a hard boil and then simmer till at your preferred taste and consistency. My mom likes to add leftover puréed tomatoes to the broth. To a mixed green leaf salad, I’ll top with sliced beets, diced celery and cauliflower sprigs and spray lightly with olive oil and drizzle with a favorite balsamic vinegar. Dessert: melon chunks.

Again, thanks to Dr. Greger’s daily dozen in his How Not to Die book, I’m fully satisfied after eating and lost cravings almost immediately. I recommend Joel Fuhrman’s Eat to Live if you want to read more about health benefits.

Other good news this week … LILLIAN IN THE DOORWAY 

OC Writers is publishing a three part series on plotting, the fun and easy way.

Check out the second post at:

Michelle Dutton’s historical novel, Lillian in the Doorway  that is featured in the article, is available on Amazon.

Happy reading and eating!   Michelle Knowlden

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