Since she upended her lifestyle, Nelson has learned how much she can live without. She still buys toilet paper and food for her two cats. She hasn't bought clothes in three years. Nor has she set foot in a supermarket to purchase eggs, vegetables, fruit, bread or coffee.
The place is decorated with a few items she found in the trash: a chair, CD rack, rug and headboard in her bedroom.
Her cupboards were full of food she did not pay for: cake mix, turkey gravy, curry mix, sweet rice. The freezer contained oatmeal bread, lime and cucumber sorbet, tomato basil soup and bagels. Everything was retrieved from the trash.
"Just because it's two or three days past its pull date, it's not like it's Cinderella's coach and it's going to turn into a pumpkin at midnight," she said.
Last year, Nelson asked her family if she could make Thanksgiving dinner out of foraged food. They found the idea odd at first, but agreed, and ended up enjoying an elaborate feast.
Nelson used to love browsing department stores or buying new books or shoes.
Now she finds satisfaction recovering 20 rosemary-seasoned roasted chickens from a dumpster outside of the Gourmet Garage, or sharing conversation over a lunch made from garbage.
She has never been happier.