pen rainbow

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tuesday's Cupboard—Creamy Tuscan Chicken

Adapted from the back of the Foster Farms individually packed chicken breasts

Easy & delicious!


From the individually packed Foster Farms chicken fillet package

•  2 to 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast fillets

•  2 T. olive oil

•  kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste


•  1/2 c. white wine

•  1 pkg. sliced fresh white mushrooms

•  1 cup heavy cream

•  4 tsp. chopped jarred garlic in water or 4 chopped fresh cloves

•  1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

•  1 cup packed fresh baby spinach

•  1 c. roughly chopped fresh basil

Add fresh baby spinach & chopped fresh basil


1.  Heat oil in nonstick pan on medium-high heat.  Rinse & pat dry chicken fillets.  Brown fillets in the pan for about 8 minutes each side.  Season with salt & pepper to taste.  Remove from pan & set aside.

2.  Add wine to hot pan and let it reduce by half (simmer for 7 to 10 minutes until reduced to 1/4 cup).  

3.  Add mushrooms & sauté for 4 - 5 minutes.  

4.  Add cream, garlic & Parmesan cheese.  Mix well, simmer for 1 minute, then add fresh spinach & chopped basil.  Simmer for 2 minutes until spinach begins to wilt.

5.  Nestle chicken fillets back into the pan & let simmer for 5 minutes until heated though.

Use heavy cream for a thicker sauce (I used half & half) or make a roux to thicken


•  Basmati rice with peas

•  mashed potatoes

•  baked russet potatoes

Frozen potatoes conveniently steamed in the microwave!
Add nonfat milk, then season with butter, salt & pepper


•  St. Michael - Eppan Pinot Grigio Südtirol - Alto Adige (Italian White)

•  Chardonnay of your choice 

Pair with an elegant Italian white wine

Monday, April 29, 2013

Monday—The Reading Corner: Writers & Their Pets

Famous writers and their pets...

Charles Schulz & his beagle, Spike

Edward Gorey & his cats, Harp_Brown_& Company
Beatrix Potter & Peter

Hemingway & one of his many cats

Kurt Vonnegut & his pooch

Hemingway sharing a tuna sandwich with his kitty pal

Jack Kerouac & Tyke

Maurice Sendak & Herman

Stephen King & his corgi

Truman Capote with his bulldog & his cat 

Mark Twain & his kitten

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday—Have An Erma Bombeck Week!

Wisdom from one of my all-time favorite humor writers

happy Spring cleaning!

The World According to Erma Bombeck

My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint.

One thing they never tell you about child raising is that for the rest of your life, at the drop of a hat, you are expected to know your child's name and how old he or she is.

Housework, if you do it right, will kill you.

Never have more children than you have car windows.

Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died.

The only reason I would take up jogging is so that I could hear heavy breathing again.

There's something wrong with a mother who washes out a measuring cup with soap and water after she's only measured water in it.

No one ever died from sleeping in an unmade bed.

Have a great week!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

tHe SAtUrdAY stOrE—A sparkly cummerbund & bow tie!

Celebrating 39 years since our first date—Prom 1974

A snappy ensemble!

This is a vintage silk & sequin, gold, silver & black cummerbund with a matching clasp bow tie.

Perfect for the Black & White Ball, classy & fun for Prom Night or Senior Ball, stylin' at any formal event!  

History:  The set was worn once to an event in 1994.  All of the sequins are intact, and there are no snags or stains.  The clasps & buckles are also in very good condition.  Originally purchased from Nordstrom's.

Condition:  Excellent (worn once, slight crease on back of cummerbund, see pix)  

Price:  $40 + free shipping!


Black silk + black, gold, & silver sequins

3 flowers design

left cummerbund buckle

right cummerbund buckle

Front of cummerbund (note the slight crease at the top)

back of cummerbund flipped over (the crease is now at the bottom) 

Long view of the cummerbund

back of the bow tie & clasps

black, gold, & silver sequins

top to bottom cummerbund with buckles

Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday—The Lightroom + Photoshop Gallery

My pix from this week...

After Photoshop World in Orlando, I decided to dive into Lightroom.  Used with Photoshop, it is...simply magical!

Here's my first attempt.  This photo was taken from my room on the 25th floor of the Peabody Hotel at sunset just before a rain storm.  After I took the photo, I noticed the hidden Mickey!  Thanks, Walt!

Taken with my Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thursday Mini-Post: 60-Second Adventures in Thought

Required viewing if you watch Big Bang Theory...Enjoy!

Schrödinger's Cat

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wednesday—Good For You, Good For GoToobs!

These are the greatest little travel bottles!  

One of the gift items in Steve's TED bag this year was a GoToob.  I tried it out on my last trip to Orlando, and now I'm on board 100 percent!

My Lubriderm GoToob

11 Reasons Why GoToobs are Better Than any 
Other Travel Bottle

1.  Squeezability — Regular travel bottles are always too hard to squeeze, which makes them a real pain in the shower, plus it's hard to use all of the contents.  Made from food grade silicon, GoToobs are wonderfully soft and squeezable, which makes them economical and efficient.

2.  Easy to Fill — The wide opening at the top of the tube makes these bottles super-easy to fill.

3.  Built-in Labeling — GoToobs have a double-ring collar around the lid that can be adjusted to indicate the contents, e.g. soap, lotion, etc.  There is also a blank slot that can be used to write in your own contents.

4.  Non-drip lid — Non-drip means no mess!  Again, this feature makes the GoToob much easier to use because you don't have to worry about spills.

5.  Colors & sizes — GoToobs come in 5 semi-transparent colors of orange, blue, green, pink & white, and 3 airport approved carry-on sizes of 1.25 ounce, 2 ounce and 3 ounce.

You can fit 12 of the small bottles, 9 of the medium-sized bottles, and 6 of the large size bottles into a 1-quart Ziploc bag.  And, of course, you could combine sizes as needed.  Bottom line, you can fit a lot of GoToobs into a quart-size Ziploc for carry-on.  

6.  Lifetime Warranty — Humangear stands behind its products and guarantees quality.  If your GoToob does not work the way it's supposed to, you can return it, and the company will replace or repair the item free of charge.

7.  Suction cups — The 2-oz. GoToobs have a handy suction cup on the side so you can temporarily adhere the toob to a wall for hands-free convenience.

8.  Pricey, but worth it —You can purchase GoToobs at Target, The Container Store, Sears, Walgreens, Whole Foods, REI, Mountain Equipment Co-op, Eastern Mountain Sports, Flight 001, Walmart, LL Bean, Kohls, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Amazon Prime!

Prices on Amazon Prime:

1.25 oz.  3-pack  $13.90

2 oz. 3-pack = $16.83

3 oz. 3-pack = $20.24

9.  Green-friendly—GoToobs are 100% BPA free

10.  Reusable & dishwasher safe — The toob and collar are top-rack dishwasher safe.  The cap should be hand washed in warm soapy water.

11.  Food safe—GoToobs make great little containers for food items, like sandwich condiments, salad dressings, and toppings.  Use them in bag lunches or picnic baskets!

Happy Travels!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tuesday's Cupboard—Skinny Cow Cookies & Dough Ice Cream Bar

A super-yummy treat for this summer!

Crunchy nuggets on top of chocolate-covered vanilla ice cream

Check out these new low-fat ice cream bars from the good folks at Skinny Cow & Nestlé!

I've been a fan of Skinny Cow since 1994 when they came out with the best low-fat traditional vanilla ice cream sandwiches on the market.

160 calories each

Since then, they have produced consistently great frozen desserts, including the chocolate and mint versions of their delicious ice cream sandwiches, the fantastic line of truffle bars, ice cream cups & cones, and now, these incredibly good ice cream bars.  I know I sound like a late-morning soap opera paid product endorsement, but I'm not.  I really love these things!  They're healthy (they'd be better without the tropical nut oils), the portions are generous, and they taste like premium ice cream.  The ice cream bars come in two varieties, Cookies 'n Dough and Salted Caramel Pretzel.

Nutritional Info for Cookies 'n Dough:

Calories:  160 per bar

Total fat:  9 grams

Sat fat:  6 grams

Trans fat:  0 grams

Cholesterol:  less  than 5 mg

Sodium:  35 mg

Total carbs:  18 grams

Dietary fiber:  2 grams

Sugars:  12 grams

Protein:  2 grams

Another thing I really like about Skinny Cow is that they come out with limited edition flavors.  At the top of my shopping list for the next couple of weeks...

Snickerdoodle Sandwiches

Chocolate-covered Cherry Cones

Pretty In Pink Velvet Truffle Bars

YUM!  Perfect Springtime treats! 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Monday—The Reading Corner: Fingered Speech

Fingered Speech = texting

Good news!  Texting is not ruining basic writing skills!  :)

i ❤ texting & tweeting

Linguist, John McWhorter, discusses the emerging language of texting in this great 14-minute TED talk.   A perfect addition to your afternoon coffee break!

Okay, now for the entertainment part of our program...ROTFLMAO

Click HERE for the Best of ParentsShouldn' 2012

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday—Have A Koshka Week!

A happy ending for Koshka and Staff Sargeant Jesse Knott

Have this kind of a week!

Pretty amazing, right?  Well, this little cat would not have made it out of war-torn Afghanistan had it not been for the bravery of an Afghan interpreter who put his own life at risk and agreed to transport Koshka (wearing a bright purple collar in an American made cat carrier) through Taliban check-points across Afghanistan to Kabul where Sargeant Knott's parents paid almost $3,000 to have him flown to Islamabad, Pakistan, then to New York, then to Portland.

Peace, it appears, rests comfortably in the paws of this feline.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

tHE sAtUrDaY STOrE—Prom Time!

Pretty in Pink Vintage Beaded Necklace

Price:  $20 + free shipping


Two strands of  bling!
A double strand of molded glass & lucite beads just in time for Prom season!

Indigo blue seed beads beautifully accent the swirled light pink & dark pink glass beads, as well as the polished orange glass beads.  Faux crystal lucite beads add sparkle and shine!  Nice gold clasps.  This necklace is comfortably balanced and hangs close to the neckline.

Bright, sparkly, clean, and in good condition.

Largest beads
Graduated sizes
 Fun pink, blue & orange colors!
Approximately 8" long

Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday—The Photoshop World 2013 Instructors' Gallery

These guys were my favorite instructors at PSW 13

I want to say that I gave all of the instructors that I had at the Photoshop World 2013 conference in Orlando excellent ratings.  They were simply amazing!

The beautiful Orange County Convention Center

Having said that, there were a few who really lit a fire and made my spirit soar.  More than once, I caught myself sitting in the audience with my jaw dropped wondering how they did it.  And then...they would tell us!  For me, it was nothing short of a transcendent experience to hear these artists reveal the inner workings of their craft.  And with that, each one revealed his passion for the creative process that drives every artist to pursue excellence.


I took 3 classes from Matt:  Landscapes, Restoration Crash Course, and The Art of Dodging & Burning.

Matt's landscape portfolio (give it time to load)


I took a class in Composition & Design from Joe that blew my mind and made me wish I'd gone to design school!

Joe Glyda Photography

Click the Galleries link in the bottom left corner > then click the Food gallery > wait for the slideshow to load (you'll be so glad you did!)


"I really like to photograph rocks."  Me, too!   I was dazzled by Bill's work.

Bill's photography

Wait for the slideshow to proceed


I loved his class on Styling Ideas that Don't Cost an Arm and A Leg.  Frank is one of the most imaginative photographers I've ever seen.  He uses fans, Kleenexes, inexpensive window sheers and lots of other everyday stuff to create truly amazing glamour shots.

Check out his fashion gallery...

frank doorhoff 500px

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Good For You—Good for You When You're Traveling

6 simple ways to avoid getting sick while you are traveling...

A cool display at McCarran International in Las Vegas

Here are some handy tips from my adventures in airports, on public transit, at conventions, and in hotels.

1.  Disposable Wipes
Get Monkish!  Carry a pack of Handi Wipes or Wet Ones in your carry-on.  On the plane, wipe down the drop-down tray, the armrests, the inside and outside edges of the magazine pocket, and the seat-belt clip.  It is the first thing I do after I find my seat on the plane, and I am frequently asked by other passengers if they can have one, as well.  

2.  Saline Nasal Spray
Sick people have to travel, so when you board a plane, chances are somebody has a cold or the flu.  Since the air is circulated and because of the close proximity inside of the cabin, a shot of saline spray before you board the plane is a good preventive measure.  If it's a long flight, another dose on the plane or between connections will help.  A saline environment makes it harder for viruses to attach to the lining of the nose and throat.

3.  Cootie-Free Zone
Flu droplets can travel for 6 feet according to the CDC.  To be on the safe side, stay at least 8 feet away from someone who is actively snorting &/or coughing.  If a sick person sits down next to you, change seats.  I'm usually in the first group to get on the plane, so changing seats is relatively easy when everyone is still boarding and getting seated.

4.  Avoid door knobs, door handles & elevator buttons
Sick people are already sick, and if they're in a public space, they can't help spreading their germs to others.  Most viruses are spread by contact, so avoid the most common ways to come into contact with germy surfaces.

Use your wrist or the sleeve of your jacket to open large doors.  In busy public areas, wait until somebody else opens the door and then go through.  I've seen this strategy used at Disney World when women are leaving the restroom.  People who are actively trying not to get sick don't want to pick up a bug on the way out.

I also use my knuckles to push elevator buttons.

5.  Wash Your Hands
Be religious about this one.  It's hard to avoid coming into contact with germs when you're sharing public spaces, so hand washing is a simple and very effective way to keep from getting sick.

6.  Avoid Touching Your Face
Generally avoid rubbing your eyes, scratching your nose, and touching your face while traveling.  Rhinoviruses are transmitted through the mucous membranes.

Safe travels, everyone!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tuesday's Cupboard—On the Road Travel Food!

A recap of this week...

On my way to Orlando to attend the Photoshop World 2013 conference!  

4 a.m.  Get up in Walnut Creek_inhale coffee

5 a.m.  Leave for the Oakland airport

6:30 a.m  Depart Oakland

8:10 a.m.  Arrive in Las Vegas at the C gates.  Booked it over to the B gates where I grabbed a tasty veggie burrito to eat on the plane at 360° Gourmet Burrito.  Bought a dark chocolate mocha and a yummy chocolate-covered graham cracker at the Coffee Bean.  Drank the coffee & saved the cookie for coffee time in my room at the hotel.


It's worth it to check ahead and see what kind of coffee maker they have in your room.  Most of the hotels are converting to K-pod coffee makers these days, so pick up a box of Starbucks k-pods for Keurig coffee makers at the grocery store & pack it in your luggage.

Hotels advertise that they have in-room coffee makers, but either they charge you for the pods—like they do at the Rio in Vegas—or they don't have much of a selection (tea, hazelnut & a mystery-pod).  I usually have 2 strong cups of k-coffee every morning when I'm traveling, so I bring a box of 10 dark-roast Starbuck's k-pods with me.

9 a.m.  Board the plane for a 3 hour 40 minute flight to Orlando.

            •  More coffee
            •  Ice water
            •  barfy little honey-roasted peanuts
            •  got a pack of vanilla Oreos to take to the hotel

3: 45 p.m.  Land in Orlando.  Pick up my pre-arranged shuttle van to the Peabody Hotel.

5: 45 p.m.  Check in at the Peabody.  Drop my stuff off in my room & hustle up a flight of stairs to the complimentary wine & cheese for guests in the Loft rooms (on the top 3 floors of the hotel).  Got there just in time before they closed at 6 p.m.

Complimentary wine & cheese!
7 p.m.  Ordered a Pizza Fungi Mista from room service (wild mushrooms, goat cheese, garlic, truffle oil & Asiago cheese).

8 p.m.  (5 p.m. Cali time)  Nitey-nite!

On the way to ground transportation at MCO

Tram to the Mears desk where I picked up my hotel shuttle
Peabody Hotel from the Orange County Convention Center
View from my LOFT room on the 25th Floor at the Peabody
Mushroom pizza with Asiago cheese from room service

 Love_love_love Florida!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Monday—The Teaching Corner: Alexander Graham Bell

Just a quickie link to a fascinating and inspiring letter written by Alexander Graham Bell to Annie Sullivan after her student, Helen Keller, was accused of plagiarism following the publication of her autobiography, The Story of My Life, by Helen Keller (now available in the public domain).

Alexander Graham Bell

Originally posted on BRAIN PICKINGS, by Maria Popova

You Must Train Teachers

A letter to Annie Sullivan, 2 April 1903, from Alexander Graham Bell.

What's interesting about this is Bell's backstory and his extensive personal and professional history of working with the deaf.

Both his mother and his wife were deaf, and it was his research into speech development and sound production (i.e. hearing devices) that led to his invention of the telephone.  His father, grandfather and brother were all elocutionists, and as a tutor at his father's school for the deaf, he worked with Helen Keller.

Pretty interesting!  

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sunday—Photoshop World 2013 in Orlando

Orange County Convention Center from the 25th floor
of the Peabody Hotel  (shhh, I'm already here!)

I'm traveling to Orlando this week for the Photoshop World 2013 conference!

The theme for this week is ADVENTURE!  This week, I'll be blogging from the Peabody Hotel in Orlando, Florida, where I'll be attending the 3-day Photoshop World 2013 conference at the beautiful Orange County Convention Center.

I'll be taking classes in Business, Photoshop, Graphic Design, Lighting, Lightroom, Photography Techniques.  And, I'll be shooting pix with my iPhone, my iPad, my trusty Sony point & shoot, and my new Panasonic Lumix micro four-thirds.

The theme of the Peabody Hotel is ducks, based on the 1930's story of Frank Schutt, General Manager of the Peabody, who with his friend, Chip Barwick, returned after a hunting trip to Arkansas and decided to let their live decoy ducks spend the night in the hotel fountain.  They've been a hit ever since, and for 76 years, they've been a ducky fixture in the fountain at the Peabody.

So, that's it!  The blog may be a little choppy this week as I knit together classes and pretend to be a photographer.  At least, I'll have a cool lanyard and a Photoshop World "Top Gun" badge.

I'll post pix from my flight and from the conference!