joy of nesting

joy of nesting
Shiree Hanson Segerstrom Design and Wellness for Women with Arthritis and Other Chronic Pain.

Soup's On! Four of My Favorite, Most Flavorful Vegetarian Soups

Soup’s On

An organic, plant based diet with lots of colorful veggies (mostly raw) and dark, leafy greens is the ideal eating plan for treating almost every chronic illness but so many of we ladies with arthritis haven’t figured out what that looks like. How many salads can you eat in a week, right? How many raw veggies can you eat before you become bored silly? Well if you’re doing it right, one to two meals a day.

Having a big leafy green salad with plenty of raw veggies on top is one of the most delicious and easy ways to get your daily requirements of micronutrients and enzymes. It’s anti-inflammatory too. That’s great for lunch, but what about dinner? Do you crave something warm and heavier than salad? Notice I didn’t say substantial. A big raw salad IS substantial. It’s just not as filling or comforting, nor does it stay with you as long.

I’m going to share some really delicious, arthritis busting soups today. With my way of preparing vegetarian soups, you’ll never be bored Mama.

So what’s the big secret to soup? There are actually two secrets: fat and pink salt. But how do you get fat in a vegetarian soup? Think it’s an oxymoron? Nope. Lemme’ introduce you to plant based fats.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is an excellent plant based fat. It takes great and it’s safe to heat. Start all your soups and chili recipes by melting a generous portion of coconut oil in a large stock pot and adding chopped onion till translucent. In some dishes, like coconut milk ice cream you can really taste the coconut oil. Not so with most soups.

Pink salt

Pink salt (sea salt works too) has no anti-caking chemicals and reportedly more minerals. There are conflicting reports about the difference between pink salt and table salt with iodine added. I’ve read online reports that say there is no difference yet all of the nutritionists’ books I’ve read insist pink salt is not only safe but actually has many redeeming qualities. I use a lot of pink salt in my salads. My doctor says it’s okay because my blood pressure is low.


Are you under the impression that vegetarian cuisine is boring or somehow limited? You would be mistaken. There’s a whole world of vegetables and only a handful of animals that are slaughtered for eating. Vegetarian cuisine can be hearty or light. It’s highly nutritious. It’s flavorful. And it’s a much kinder way of living. These soups are husband tested and approved but to be safe, plan for him a chicken breast on the side.

I’m including the brands I buy because they have no fillers, preservatives or dangerous chemicals like calcium chloride in them. I buy all organic ingredients. According to the experts books I’ve read, this is so important. But I realize buying organic takes a mindset shift. It’s not so much that we can’t afford organic produce. It’s that we prioritize different things like wine, beer, travel, a better car, etc. The reality is either you spend the money on healthy food or on hospital stays later. It took me about five years to go from non-organic to partially organic to fully organic. Now I will do without many other things (expensive clothes, new household items, trips) before I skimp on food.

I don’t use recipes for my soups. As long as I start with hot oil and onion, I know the rest will fall into place.

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

Corn tortillas, sliced in thin strips and fried in coconut oil
(I like the organic ones by La Tortilla Factory. Food For Life corn tortillas are all natural too.)
Coconut oil for frying

Coconut oil for sautéing onion and for soup base, about 4-5 T.
Pacific brand vegetable stock, about 24 oz.
Red bell pepper, chopped, about half
Pomi chopped tomatoes with juice, about 13 oz.
Victoria chopped mild green chilis with juice, 2 small cans
Kidney beans, about 2 15 oz. cans, rinsed
Plenty of mild red chili powder, about 1 ½ T.
Cumin, about 2 t.
Jalapeno, about ¼, seeded and chopped
Small package frozen organic white corn (it’s important to buy organic because corn is a big GMO crop and you don’t want that!)
Red onion, about half, chopped
Garlic, about 4 cloves, chopped

Lime wedges
Red or green cabbage, sliced thin
Coyo, all natural coconut milk yogurt (Delicious and healthy in place of sour cream!)
avocado slices

Place coconut oil in large stock pot. Sautee onion till soft. Add spices. Toss for a few minutes till absorbed. Add beans and mild chilis. Stir to coat. Add stock and tomatoes. Simmer on low about 15 minutes.

In heavy skillet, fry tortilla strips till almost brown. Watch so they don’t burn. Transfer to paper towels to blot excess oil.

Add pink salt and additional oil at the end of cooking for more flavor is desired. I use olive oil at this point but you can stick with coconut oil if you prefer.

Top with cilantro, cabbage, tortilla strips and lime. You’re gonna’ love it. It’s “Souper” flavorful!

Vegetarian Posole

This special recipe has been adapted by me for a vegetarian diet. It’s originally from the Ann Burch, previous owner of the Side Street Café, Los Olivos California, courtesy of my long time friend Karen Langley Stevens, Santa Ynez.

32 oz. Pacific brand vegetable stock
Coconut oil
1 med. Yellow onion, chopped
2 T. mild chili powder
1 red bell pepper, chopped
6 to 7 cloves garlic, chopped
1 to 2 T. cumin
1 to 2 t. Mexican or Greek oregano
2 16 oz. cans Juanita’s Mexican style hominy, rinsed
3 T. cornstarch mixed with ¼ C. water
Smokey hot chipotle powder, ½ t.


Chopped radishes, pico de gallo, tortilla strips, chopped green cabbage.

In a large stock pot, sautee onion in coconut oil till soft. Add chili powder, cumin and oregano. Stir till coated. Add pepper, garlic, hominy. Stir for a few minutes till pepper is softened and hominy is coated. Add stock and chipotle powder. Simmer till gently boiling. Add cornstarch and water.

Simmer gently for fifteen minutes. Top with garnishes. Posole is super delicious and filling without the meat. I like to serve mine with my homemade cornbread and honey.

Vegetarian Minestrone

You are in for a treat. Even if you’re not a minestrone fan, you’ll most likely love this one after a few bites.

28 oz. fire roasted tomatoes
4 T. coconut oil
32 oz. Pacific brand vegetable stock
½ package Penne or rotelli pasta
1 16 oz. can each black, kidney and navy beans, rinsed
1 oz. package dried porcini mushrooms, minus a little
3 stalks celery, chopped
½ large yellow onion, chopped
Pink salt

1 C. chopped, fresh spinach

Sautee onion and celery in coconut oil till soft. Add tomatoes, beans, stock and dried mushrooms. Add pasta and simmer pasta according to package directions. Add spinach last, and simmer five minutes or until softened. The addition of the porcini mushrooms is incredible. Super hearty vegetarian soup.

Vegan Thai Coconut Curried Carrot

Wow, super good soup! You will love this. Unless your guy is an advanced eater, he probably won’t like this one. But don’t let that stop you from enjoying this. I based it on a soup I had from the food bar at Whole Foods. Try both, and see which one you like best!

Red Thai brand red curry paste, to taste (I do about 1 ½ t.)
Mild Indian curry to taste, (I add about 1 ½ t.)
Coconut oil, 3 – 4 T.
Coconut milk, 1 14 oz. can (full fat)
2 ½ C. Pacific brand vegetable stock
½ onion, chopped
5 lg. carrots, peeled and chopped
Hot chili pepper flakes
Fresh ginger, chopped fine


Coyo all natural coconut yogurt

Sautee onion in coconut oil in large stock pot. Add carrots and stock and simmer 30 minutes.

Puree in blender. Return to pot and add coconut milk, ginger, curries and pepper flakes. Simmer a few more minutes and stir.

Garnish with lime juice and coconut yogurt. Super flavorful! Try not to get curry on your hands. The smell sticks with your hands for two days!

I’ve spent the past ten years perfecting my life with arthritis. I want to share everything I know with you! My goal is to shine a light on the dangers of treating arthritis and other chronic illnesses with prescription drugs; and the health and moral benefits of eating a vegan, plant based diet. To learn more about adopting this beautiful, kind and energy enhancing lifestyle, get my freebie Pain Free Design andWellness here, so you can live a beautiful life at home with arthritis.

Live beautifully, eat beautifully.


Healthy at Home: Seven Powerful Keys to a Consistent at Home Wellness Practice

I bet like most of us girls you're still struggling with maintaining a consistent wellness practice. You have the gym membership, yoga classes, you try to eat right and even make yourself the occasional green drink but overall if we’re being completely honest, we women as a whole… are not all that healthy these days.

I've created this little article just for you my friend. I know you struggle just like me because I've been there, done that. If you know of anyone who struggles with consistency like we do, please share because this is a disheartening struggle for all of us. 

Image credit unknown

First and most importantly is the "where". Where do you eat right, rejuvenate, groom and perhaps even exercise most consistently? If you said home, you're on the right track.


The truth is the most consistent wellness practices happen at home simply because you have more control over what you eat there; where you don’t have to “go somewhere” or “stop some place” to exercise; where you have the option to have or not have tempting wine, dairy and sugary treats on hand; and where you can always find a quiet and pretty spot to restore yourself.

It's important to identify a spot that you feel good about, one that you'll return to time after time. This will reinforce a habit. f you don’t have a stand-alone workout space, let's talk about alternatives.

Not all of us have workout rooms and I have some suggestions. I've successfully used one end of my large formal living room; my den/ television room and my home office a little less successfully. In my current home my workout space is in the upstairs loft. This is where most of my home workouts happen now and it works really well because there’s room for my bike and other small equipment; the views are great; and the space is inspiring, clean, well lit and quiet.

What I don’t recommend is using the guest room because you're routines will fall apart the moment company comes. And I don’t recommend the master bed or bath simply because it’s already a hub of activities for hair styling, dressing, make up, dental care, etc. You need something that’s not so busy and one that doesn't represent sleep.


No, you don't need major weights or benches for this plan. All you need is a stay-bike, a re-bounder, two different size hand weights and a yoga mat. Some optional equipment could be yoga blocks, a stability ball, a kettle ball, and foam rollers for myo-fascial release.

If you haven’t tried the re-bounder yet, do yourself a big ol’ favor and fork out the $130 and get yourself one stat. Rebounding, is basically dance-bouncing, bare footed, in place to awesome music. It is mega fun, moves lymph, gets your heart rate up, burns calories and best of all alleviates depression in just 15-20 minutes a day. They are easy to store and feel super good on your legs, calves and feet.   

Yoga can happen at home my friend, with or without a mat. However, I like the mat because it’s a visual prompt and a great habit enhancer. I’ve been practicing it since I was a child, long before it became popular in this country. I’ve taken one yoga class in my adult life yet I’ve been consistently practicing it at home for more years than I can count.


Having a gym membership is beneficial too, don't get me wrong.  But the whole idea is not to skip working out just because you don't feel like going to the gym or doing your hair, or make up. Or because you don't have time to drive there. If for whatever reason you can't go, you know in a pinch you can get a sufficient workout at home.

I’m in the gym 20- 25 minutes, three times a week. Between the aerobic bike, rebounder, yoga and weights all my exercise needs are covered. 

Stationary bike
Rebounder (mini-trampoline) 
Yoga mat
Stability ball
Hand weights (one pair of light weight; one pair of heavy weight. I use ten lbs. but find what you're comfortable with)
Foam rollers
Yoga blocks
Kettle ball
Silicon foot massage ball (grabbing exercises for feet and toes)
Clothing and proper shoes, natch


There is really only one correct eating plan for all of us, and that’s a plant based, whole foods diet. The more organic and the more raw veggies, dark leafy greens, sprouted nuts and fresh fruits you include, the better. You can certainly choose animal products and you won’t die from them. But the fact remains alcohol, sugar, packaged foods, meat and dairy aren’t good for us so at the very least limit your intake. Read the China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell. Watch documentary Forks Over Knives. They give excellent science based explanations as to why plants are best for human consumption. Not animals and animal fats.

I get it. Making fresh salads and juices takes time! And it takes some getting used to. But guess what? That time you lose in chopping and juicing you gain from not having to cook as much.  My food prep goes like this: a morning green juice which I make two at a time and freeze, and bowl of berries; a big raw salad at lunch with garbanzo beans or soaked nuts, and roasted vegetable and savory plant based soups and chili for dinner. I make enough to last a few days. Sometimes if I feel like pasta, I'll add some rotelli to my soup and make a minestrone. 

So many people don't have the imagination to give up meat so for them I suggest wild salmon 3 - 4 times a week. Read books by Susan Blum, Joel Fuhrman and Eugene Zamperion on arthritis and fasting. The vegetarian cuisine is beautiful, healthy, flavorful, colorful, joyful, kind, ethical and diverse. I strongly urge you to give this vibrant new lifestyle a try and watch your skin firm up, your waistline shrink and your mood and energy soar. 


To ensure your own success you will want to seriously consider blocking out the time in your Google Calendar or iCalendar for exercise and meals. I schedule everything I do from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm including work, chores, exercise, errands, juicing, lunch and dinner. Because my workouts are sixty to seventy five minutes a day, five days a week, I have to schedule them tightly around work. I like to break them up into smaller chunks.  Ride your stay-bike or dance on the re-bounder twenty minutes every morning and on alternating days you can do Yoga or workout at your nearby gym. At 25 minutes a session, weights take considerably less time than yoga which is why I only do Yoga Tuesdays and Thursdays, and weights Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

I suggest your bike or re-bounder before work; or a walk during lunch; and your weights or Yoga practice after work. On the weekends do something outside, something less structured. I love tennis, hiking and kayaking with my mate. 


It’s important to set yourself up for success. If that means working out early in the morning then do that. If that means breaking it up into fifteen to twenty minute increments, do that.  Keeping agreements with yourself is incredibly important to not only your health but also your self-esteem. You know that friend who always keeps her word, the one you can always count on? Be her. And don’t forget to schedule it! 


To show up large in life, you need to dream and be inspired! Surround yourself with an environment you find to be beautiful, well-kept and organized. Envision yourself as the stunner you are every day.

If you need more help learning how to design your home and take better care of yourself at home, click here for my free blueprint to wellness at home, Pain Free Design and Wellness

Live beautifully, eat beautifully.


How to Design Your Home Around Your Lifestyle

When you think about it, your home plays some pretty big roles in your life. It supports and enables almost everything you do such as preparing healthy meals, working from home, working on your most important relationships, getting a good night’s sleep, tending to your appearance and wardrobe, pursuing hobbies and much, much more.

Image Via Doug Atherly

How your home feels and works is often times more important than how it looks. If everyday life around the home doesn’t feel right, if maintaining your home is a challenge, if you’re not able to be highly effective while there, if finding things is next to impossible, if putting things away is like running a gauntlet it’s definitely time to do some work.

I’ve been an interior designer for many years and of course how my home looks is very important to my clients and me. But more important than how your home looks is how it feels to you, how it functions, how it supports, rejuvenates and inspires you. If your home isn’t supporting the many facets of your life, and if you find planning a home overwhelming just thinking about it, maybe it’s time to take action before you're completely burned out, rather than after! Here are some design concepts that will help simplify things for you. If you fail to plan, plan to fail right? That’s a huge concept in my own life and nowhere is it more evident than in the potentially snowballing “mess” of our own home! Hang with me here. I’m going to make this easy for you.

Image Via House of Pictures

#1- Planning your home via one main concept such as Art and Design, Wellness, Travel or A Large Family.

Think about your values or the things you stand for. What are the one to three things that are stand outs to you and the people living with you? Do you value design, art and fine music above all else? Or are travel and the memories and mementos collected while traveling a bigger priority? Or are wellness, eating right and exercising your top priorities? Or do you have a large family with high needs for organization?

Each of these scenarios creates different priorities in the home and require planning. Your lifestyle should always be addressed before decorative decisions are made. Surprisingly, each of the above mentioned scenarios will play a small role in the home’s overall aesthetic.

For an art lover, wall space and often times floor space is highly valued for displaying art and for areas to view and appreciate them. Less pattern on the furniture and floors. More emphasis on each individual piece of art. White walls. Ebony hardwood floors. Modern furniture.

For a large family, kid friendly surfaces such as patterned flooring and fabrics; washable paint finishes; and large, sturdy and comfy furniture.

Can you see how this could work for you? What would your one main concept be? What do you value? Be careful designing your entire home around hobbies. Hobbies come and go and usually, they’re only valued by one person in the home! So if you love dolls and if you have other people living in the home with you, planning your home around your doll collection is not fair to the other household members! Just as planning a home around golf would be unfair too. For hobbies, see the next concept on planning your home in zones.

#2- Planning your home via activities or zones such as areas for Connecting, Rejuvenation, Work or Studying, Exercise, or Hobbies.

There is something so freeing about having to make fewer decisions, such as having a capsule wardrobe or following a workout dvd or having a recipe to follow. Less decisions equal less stress and that’s incredibly freeing in today’s world. What about having zones in your home designed around individual activities? Today’s homes are tricked out with media rooms, exercise and wellness rooms, home offices, hobby rooms and even recording studios! Having rooms serve one main activity or grouped activities saves time from collecting various equipment and props that must otherwise be stored elsewhere. It saves decision making about where the activity will take place and what you’ll need for it. It can even add more joy to the activity when the space is specifically designed around it.

The idea in these two first concepts is to make decision making easy for you. In interior design, there are hundreds if not thousands of decisions to make and worse yet, tens of thousands of choices! No wonder design is such a stressful industry. So the first thing we pro’s do is narrow the playing field by determining lifestyle, aesthetics, a color palate, scale, metals, wood finishes, things the client wants to keep and work around. All these things narrow down the amount of decisions we have to make.

 #3- Planning your home around comfort, safety and convenience or design based on aging, disabilities or physical challenges.

The concept is not as simple but still, it does narrow down choices. For people who are infirm, who have growing disabilities or even small physical challenges, it adds up.  This is called Universal Design and it’s an industry standard. This includes conveniences such as extra wide hallways and doors; one level living; rocker style light switches; lever doorknobs; lever style faucets; level flooring material changes from area to area; sufficient overhead task and ambient lighting; abundant natural light; home security features, et cetera. Extra attention is also devoted to the kitchen, appliances, counter heights, storage and more.

Here are some of the amenities in a well-designed home:

Abundant window space and beautiful views
Media rooms and great audio/video/security systems
Comfortable, well made furniture, particularly for seating and beds .
Art and quality accessories like rugs and lighting
Well stocked library
Well designed kitchens/equipment and “smart” appliances to make meal prep easier and more pleasant
Wine cellars (however, drinking in moderation and even abstaining altogether is a huge facet of a healthy lifestyle).
Home gym/spa/sauna
Ample storage/built-ins
Adequate ventilation and air quality/air purifiers
Filtered water for bathing and drinking
Indoor plants and flowers to oxygenate and cleanse the air
Sound absorption

A dysfunctional home affects everyone and every aspect of your life and most homes are dysfunctional to one degree or another. Like everything else in life, you get out of your home what you put into it.

And if you'd like to delve deeper into how your home can work for you, see my beautiful new website for some great design and wellness tools. There is a digital book, strategy sessions, a decorating course in the making (due out soon!) and even a freebie to get you started!

Live beautifully, eat beautifully.


Case Study: A Restful Saratoga Craftsman Walks on the Wild Side, Baby

Most of my design clients are women. I love collaborating with them because I know I can make an impact on how they live in their homes. For some uncanny reason I understand the style they’re after through what I can only describe as a kind of mental telepathy.

Friends and clients ask how I’m able to create such different looks for individual clients and I’ve tried to understand it myself. The short answer is I don’t know. It just hits me, like one eleven month project that’s now almost completed.

But let’s regress for a moment because here is where the confusion starts. When you ask people what style they like, they’re not always able to give you a reliable answer. I hear terms like cozy, or classic, or fresh which give me nothing to go on because one woman’s fresh is another woman’s salad. Classic can be used to describe a blazer. And cozy in my terms means wrapped up in a blanket by the fire. These are hardly terms to describe a design style so that leaves me to figure things out with my own devices.

Initially I spent an hour or two with this particular client in her Saratoga, California home, discussing the usual things like scope of work, color preferences, scale and some things that are very important to her such as her music collection and extraordinary career as former head of worldwide HR at a powerhouse tech company, as well as being a noted soprano. I love it when a client can offer me such a rich and personal backdrop. It lends itself to a better project.

The drive home from her home to mine is 3 ½ hours at best. On this day it took five. Within the first hour of the drive I had the major elements of the scheme in my head: fabrics, furniture style and colors. Another week to ten days and I had the specifics flushed out as well.

We did the living room, breakfast room, entry, hall, two bathrooms and some pieces for the master bedroom. I also consulted on the music studio downstairs though my designs weren’t brought to fruition.

The home’s architectural style is “arts and crafts” and falls under the traditional heading but the client prefers contemporary furnishings.  

I chose large scale furnishings for added comfort and also to match the scale of the home. The 97 inch bench made, pillow back sofa, the 37 inch armchair and 40 inch ottoman were covered in a soft and durable Pindler upholstery fabric in a color called Chai Latte. I did the pillows and cushions in a Fabricut zebra print and the welts in a Stroheim and Romann red velvet. There was also a wood framed accent chair the client was particularly fond of so I had it refinished in an espresso stain, and recovered the seat in the red velvet and the back in the zebra print.

The cocktail table took some time to find but when I finally saw it, I knew it was perfect. It’s a 40 inch round drum style carved mango wood with a white marble top and an ebony finish from Selamat Designs. The carvings are pomegranates.

In the breakfast room I did a round, very contemporary table that looks a bit like stone. It has a cone shaped base and a carved-look surface. The upholstered breakfast room chairs from Lazar have metal nail heads around the perimeter. The fabric is kind of an oyster colored texture with bits of metallic fleck in it. The client wanted to keep the little sitting area by the breakfast room window so we kept the existing Restoration Hardware armless chairs and round aluminum table and added 20 inch throw pillows in the red velvet with a mustard velvet welt to pick up the little mustard colored tufted ottoman that’s nearby.

In the entry, which is almost done we did a gorgeous hand knotted area rug with reds and blues, a huge midnight blue hand beaded mirror and a burnished iron and marble top console.

In the bathrooms we wallpapered and did wall to wall mirror over the vanities. One wall paper reminds me of a Keith Haring painting. It’s in burnished gold and cream colors. The other wallpaper, shown only in the powder room, is an amazing silver metallic cork. In the long narrow halls I did zebra print runners and a gorgeous framed mirror that looks like melted gold cutwork.

My vision of this design scheme was inspired by the art filled bungalows of Berkeley, California. The craftsman architecture and contemporary furnishings were brought together by one common thread: the look and feel of hand crafted, high quality products.

Live beautifully, eat beautifully. Shiree’


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