pen rainbow

Monday, September 30, 2013

Monday—The Industrial Design Corner: Charles & Ray Eames

The first in a series of my favorite designers — Charles & Ray Eames

Eames ottoman & lounge chair_circa 1956

Charles & Ray Eames dot pattern fabric_1947

On the nature of their relationship & creative partnership...

ELAINE SEWELL JONES (Herman Miller public relations, and Eames family friend)

"Well I think they never talked about it as a subject very much that I know of, but  there was no doubt about the fact that Charles was always very careful to state that it was a partnership between him and Ray."

". . . you have two persons who are symbiotic working

together, agreeing and disagreeing, trusting each other, 

because they had to agree and they had to disagree a lot.

And that was a perfect working relationship."

Charles & Ray Eames on NBC's Home show with Arlene Francis, 1956...Part 1 of 2

Introducing their new lounge chair and ottoman for Herman Miller furniture...Part 2 of 2

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sunday—Keep On Swinging: Triple-Step How-To

Learn the basic triple-step from swing champ, Robert Royston

You don't need 3 feet to swing dance!

If you can do this, you can swing dance.  Go for it!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

tHe sATurDaY sToRE—Prairie Girl Costume

Quality Halloween wear handmade by me!

❤  This sweet little costume is based on my favorite Laura Ashley dress pattern that I used for my daughter when she was in 2d grade. ❤

Prairie Girl Costume — Size 8

Prairie Girl Costume

4 pieces:  Dress, apron, bloomers & sunbonnet

Clean & gently used: worn once

PRICE:  $65 + free shipping

Click HERE to compare prices on Ebay

Back of dress & apron

Lacy bloomers with cute decorative patch

Collar & French hem bodice

Dress front

Shoulder ruffles & zippered back

French hem sleeves

French hem

Front of dress and apron

Velcro closures on back of apron_Notice the stitching down the middle of each Velcro square
(That's a piece of blue thread that got caught underneath the Velcro_it does not show)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday—The iPhone Gallery: Showcase Pix

Random pix from our district-wide dance showcase last weekend

Taken with my iPhone4_post-processing in PS CS3 & Lightroom

Layered chocolate mousse

Studio dance presentation by our wonderful AM staff!

Apr├ęs dinner dancing

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Thursday Mini-Post: Convos With My 2-Year Old

Well, I hate to do it, but I just had to share this viral YouTube series of actual conversations with a 2-year by a grown the 2-year old

LOL_creepy & funny!

If you've ever been around a 2-year old, it will start to make sense pretty quickly.  Just watch.  You'll know what I mean.  There are 8 episodes plus a blooper reel from Season 1.  As far as I can tell, there is one episode in Season 2.  This is Episode #3, Season 1 — The Cookie  

Click on the YouTube icon in the bottom right corner to watch it on YouTube.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wednesday—Good For You, Good For The Home: Repurposed Pallets

A great way to reuse commercial loading pallets!

•  Just clear the ground in the areas where you want to place the pallets.  

•  Shovel dirt over the top of the pallets to raise the level of the soil for planting.  

•  Insert seedlings between the planks.  

•  If desired, block the open sides up with 3ml black plastic or ground cover net to help pack the soil in underneath the pallet.

Enjoy your new garden!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tuesday's Cupboard—Curried Shrimp and Red Lentils

Rich flavorful broth and hearty red lentils make this a satisfying exotic dish!

The secret to a good curry is in the spices
Slow-cook everything except the shrimp
Topped with herbed crumbled feta

This slow-cooked curry is made the authentic way with six different ground spices:  cumin, coriander, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves.  Add chopped garlic and fresh ginger to enhance the flavors, and finish it off with aromatic vegetables, celery & onion.

I doubled all of the ingredients from the original recipe, except for the onion, which I kept at one very large sweet onion.  I used jarred chopped garlic (in water) instead of fresh garlic, and I included clean, fresh leaves with the chopped celery.

Basic curry ingredients_(don't forget the cardamom)
Flavorful & healthy red lentils
Fresh ginger, sweet onion & Rapunzel vegan vegetable broth cubes
I use 2 double-size cubes to make 4 cups, then I add a cup of plain water
2 pounds of frozen rinsed shrimp
Convenient 2-pound size bag

Curried Shrimp and Red Lentils

Adapted from Weight Watchers® Slow Good Super Slow-Cooker Cookbook, 2005

Makes 6 servings


 5 c. vegetable broth

2 c. red lentils_picked over, rinsed & drained

4 celery stalks, chopped

4 T. finely chopped fresh ginger

2 garlic cloves, chopped (2 tsp. jarred in water)


2 tsp. ground cumin

2 tsp. ground coriander

2 tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. ground cardamom

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. freshly ground pepper

1/2 tsp. ground cloves


2 pounds frozen medium-sized peeled & deveined shrimp — rinsed to remove the outer ice


1.  Place the vegetable broth, lentils, chopped onion, celery, ginger & garlic in the slow cooker.  

2.  Add the spices:  ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, salt, pepper & cloves.

3.  Mix well.  Cover & cook on high for 3 hours or on low for 5 hours until lentils are soft and broth is aromatic.

4.  Empty the frozen shrimp into a colander & rinse to loosen and remove outer layers of ice.  Stir in the shrimp.  Cook until shrimp are opaque, about 20 minutes.  


•  Serve over hot, cooked Basmati rice or with fresh slabs of Tandoori Naan (Indian flatbread) available at Safeway and Whole Foods.

•  This is also delicious as an accompaniment to Tandoori chicken!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Monday—The Design Corner: Lella & Massimo Vignelli

An Italian husband-wife team whose collaborative work is synonymous with modern design

Poster design_Stendig calendar_100cm x 140cm
Reproduced every year since 1966
Poster design_Knoll International_1966

Architectural Design_St. Peter's Church_New York_1977

This is the luck that we have.  We are absolutely complementary, one to each other."  
-- Massimo Vignelli  

"The first fifty are really difficult.  The second one are great!"  -- Lella Vignelli

Watch this introduction to their amazing body of work...from the film documentary, Design is One, by Kathy Brew & Robert Guerra (theatrical release, October 11, 2013, in NYC).  

Click HERE for a link to the Vignelli Center for Design Studies

Photos from

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sunday—Have a Swingin' Week!

Here are two great instructional videos that will get you started on (East Coast) swing

My shoes are from Very Fine

Yay!!  Ready?  Here we go...these 2 vids are easy and fun!

First, the basic steps:  walk, touch-step, triple-step & kick-ball-change...

Now, try this She-He Turn with a triple-step.  A rock-step is a single back touch-step, like you're rocking backward.

Good Luck & Happy Dancing! 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday—The Photoshop Gallery: Vintage Ragamuffins

Post-processing in Photoshop CC & Lightroom5

BeyondBeyond Challenge:  Use basic panels in Lightroom to add drama by adjusting shadows, contrast & cropping.  I added the torn frame, background & tape in PSCC.  The original photo is not torn!

Original B&W photo taken in Pioche, Nevada, on a family camping trip circa 1920's.  That's my gramma Pearle second to the left.  I thought the campfire in the foreground was a nice photographic touch!

Background dot paper, vintage torn frame & tape
by Leslie Nicole_French Kiss Collections

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Thursday Mini-Post: Birthday Edition

It's my birthday!  56 BIG ONES TODAY

Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting_my favorite

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Good for You, Good for Feral Cats

Now, there is concrete evidence that trap-and-neuter + spay programs work better than trap-and-kill and trap-and-neuter programs to reduce and eliminate feral cat colonies

^^^  Does not know he's neutered ^^^

Here is a great article from a pet blog I follow called, PetMD, written by a group of veterinarians.

A new study published in the August 15, 2013, issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) shows how three commonly used management techniques work to reduce &/or eliminate feral cat colonies.

Through computer modeling, researchers were able to determine that trapping male and female ferals, sterilizing them, then returning them to the colony was the most effective method for reducing and eliminating the colony.  This method called, Trap Vasectomy/ Hysterectomy Release (TVHR), was measured against Trap Neuter Release (TNR) and Lethal Control (LC).  The results were striking!

From Dr. Coates' article...

"Unless > 57% of cats were captured and neutered annually by TNR or removed by lethal control, there was minimal effect on population size. In contrast, with an annual capture rate of ≥ 35%, TVHR caused population size to decrease. An annual capture rate of 57% eliminated the modeled population in 4,000 days by use of TVHR, whereas > 82% was required for both TNR and lethal control."

Isn't that amazing?  It turns out that neutered male cats retain the breeding hierarchy in the colony and fend off other breeding males.  They retain their hormone levels and mate with the intact and sterile females, resulting in a 45-day period of pseudopregancy.  Sterile females continue to attract males and compete with the intact females for breeding time.  The more sterile cats in the colony, the better!  

Here is a link to the full article, The Secret to Controlling Feral Cat Colonies, by Jennifer Coates, DVM_PetMD_12 September 2013.

If you have feral cat colonies in your community, spread the good word on this issue.  Killing ferals simply does not work because the capture rate isn't high enough to make a difference.  Neutering just the feral males and sending them back to the colony can actually make things worse by increasing the population!

Ignoring the problem is inhumane.  Kittens in feral colonies have only a 12 to 33% chance of surviving to 6 months of age.  Ferals have a huge impact on native bird populations, and they become prey for coyotes and other predators.  They are vulnerable to disease, exposure, and starvation.  Feeding ferals makes the problem worse by increasing the size of the colony.    

This is a problem with an easy solution!!  

Trap-Vasectomy-Hysterectomy-Release works.

Click HERE for a link to the study, Estimation of Effectiveness of Three Methods of Feral Cat Population Control by Use of A Simulation Model.  McCarthy RJLevine SHReed JM.


Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tuesday's Cupboard—Mac & Cheese With Kale

Traditional Mac & Cheese, plus healthy kale

Delicious & healthy mac & cheese with fresh kale

This is one of my favorite comfort food casseroles!  I use a whole 1 lb. box of elbox mac, and that makes enough for a 10" Corningware dish plus an 8" x 8" square casserole to freeze.  From freezer to the table, plan on about 1.5 hours to reheat the frozen casserole.  

This recipe can be made on the stovetop without the kale or baked in the oven with the kale.  I've used other WW mac & cheese recipes with veggie add-ins, and I like the baked kale version.  But, you can make it with or without the kale add-in.  

Mac & Cheese with Kale

Adapted from an original recipe by Weight Watchers In No Time, © 2006 — Page 157

Prep:  25 mins
Serves:  6

Special Equipment:  1—10" Corningware baking dish + 1 square Pyrex glass casserole with a sealable plastic lid (for freezing); a large 12" nonstick saucepan; a large 4-cup liquid measuring cup


•  1 lb. box of Barilla elbow macaroni

•  2 c. fat-free milk

•  1 T. + 1 tsp. cornstarch

•  2 tsp. butter

•  1 large sweet onion

•  2 tsp. dry mustard

•  1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper + kosher salt

•  1—8 oz. package of shredded cheddar cheese blends (try the shredded mac & cheese blends

•  1—8 oz. package of shredded cheese for topping = total of 2 pkgs. of shredded cheddar cheese   

•  1 — 14 oz. can of chopped Italian-style or fire-roasted tomatoes (these are not spicy hot), undrained

For the baked version with kale:

•  2 - 3 handfuls of pre-chopped organic kale (I use the salad mixture with slivered carrots from Safeway)

•  Panko bread crumbs

•  paprika

Use Italian-Style or Fire-Roasted chopped tomatoes

Available at Safeway_I use about a half a bag

Make It!

1.  Cook the elbow macaroni according to package directions; drain & keep warm

2.  Meanwhile, whisk together the milk & cornstarch in a large Pyrex measuring cup; set aside

3.  Melt the butter in a large nonstick saucepan over medium heat.  Add the chopped onion & cook until softened, about 3 minutes.  Add the dry mustard & ground pepper; cook 30 seconds more.

4.  Give the milk/cornstarch mixture a quick stir, then add it to the saucepan, stirring constantly until thickened, about 3 minutes.

5.  Add 1 package of mac & cheese blend shredded cheese & cook, stirring just until melted.  Stir in the cooked macaroni & add the canned tomatoes.  Heat through for about 2 minutes & remove from heat.  Season to taste with kosher salt.

Serve immediately!  YUM

Creamy cheese sauce, tomatoes & fresh kale_bake for 40 minutes on 350°F

Baked With Kale

6.  Toss in 2 - 3 handfuls of fresh chopped kale; stir to combine.  This bulks up the recipe, so you'll have enough for a large casserole plus a square dish.  

7.  Spray the 2 casserole dishes with butter-flavor or olive oil PAM.  Distribute mac & cheese between the two dishes.  Top with extra shredded cheese & sprinkle Panko crumbs on the top.  Spray the bread crumbs lightly with PAM, then dust the tops with paprika for color & presentation.  

Seal the square dish with non-stick aluminum foil & cover with a freezer-proof plastic sealable lid; label & freeze for later.

To bake the frozen dish:  Reheat covered with foil for 1 hour on 350°F.  Remove the foil & bake uncovered for another 20-30 minutes until the bread crumbs are toasted & the cheese is hot & bubbly.     

8.  Bake the freshly made casserole uncovered in the oven for 35-40 minutes until heated through.  The kale should be wilted, not crisp.  

This mac & cheese is great with a little hot sauce sauce on top!  I use Cholula chipotle hot sauce.    


Monday, September 16, 2013

Monday—I Know That VOICE

Who are the familiar voices behind our favorite characters?

Arguably, the most recognizable voice in animation history
Mel Blanc_The voice of Bugs 1940 - 1989

I Know That VOICE

This fun new documentary will be released on INDemand at the end of the year, on iTunes on December 22, and available on DVD sometime in November or December.

Click HERE to go to their official facebook page

Director Lawrence Shapiro goes behind the fourth wall to show us the real people behind the imaginary characters who have kept us entertained for generations.  June Foray (Rocky the Squirrel & CindyLoo Who), John DiMaggio (Furturama's Bender who also exec produced the documentary), and Emmy Award winner, Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson & Chuckie from The Rugrats) are among the talented voice actors who brought them to life.

Why would we want to put faces on these famous characters?  Because the actors deserve full recognition for all of the great memories we have as a result of their fabulous work.  And, because they contribute joy to the world, which is a true gift.

Photo credits: from Wikipedia_Bugs creator, Tex Avery_Warner Bros. mascot

Official trailer #1

Official trailer #2

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Celebrating the New Oakland Bay Bridge

An 11-year project concluded on Monday, September 2, with the opening of the beautiful new eastern span of the Oakland Bay Bridge 

Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Transportation

Watch this awesome 4-minute, time-lapse video of the construction of this graceful cantilevered bridge...

Click HERE_Video courtesy of

Click HERE to find out why we needed it in the first place!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday—The Photoshop Gallery: BC Bench

The last photo I did in Creative Suite3...before my computer was taken over by the Creative Cloud!

Bench at Veterans' Memorial Park in Boulder City, NV

Post-processing in CS3 & Lightroom4

Stacked frames by Leslie Nicole

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Thursday Mini-Post: Sounds in Space

Professor Don Gurnett's favorite space sounds recorded by a variety of spacecraft on instruments at the University of Iowa

Voyager_photo courtesy of the University of Iowa

Ever wonder what things sound like in space?  Check out Professor Gurnett's favorite space sounds recorded over the past 50 years.  They remind me of bird songs, especially the Earth multi-hop whistlers.  The Earth auroral kilometric radiation sounds like alien chatter.  Amazing.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Good For You, Good For Your Declawed Cat

Behavioral issues related to declawed cats:  peeing outside of the litter box AND biting

Happy Claws!

The #1 behavioral reason for surrendering cats is soiling inside of the house, followed by aggression toward other pets and people, as well as biting.  Declawed cats frequently display all of these behavioral problems, and it is not surprising that the percentage of declawed cats surrendered for peeing in the house far exceeds the percentage of clawed cats surrendered for the same reason.

What's Going On?
So, let's get to the bottom of this problem.  Declawed cats are more sensitive to hard litters than cats with intact paws.  As a result, they experience varying degrees of discomfort, from chronic ongoing phantom pain to intermittent discomfort.  If a cat associates pain with the litter box, he is going to find someplace else to go, preferably someplace soft.  Once his smell is in the new location, he will go back to that location as a pain-free alternative to the litter box.

Change the Litter
I did some research online this morning to find out what litters work best for declawed cats with behavioral issues.  Both litters are good alternatives to clay, based on vet recommendations and on forum discussions among owners of declawed cats.

•  Cat Attract™ by Precious Cat Litters contains a pheromone that attracts cats to the box.

•  Just for Cats Natural Cat Care™ Litter by Nature's Miracle is a clumping corn cob granule that absorbs 4 times as much as clay litter.  Available at Petco.

Useful Reading
For more reading on this subject, check these useful links:

Inappropriate Urination: Causes and Cures by Meow Cat Rescue

Litterbox Secrets by Jackson Galaxy (18 Nov 2010)_LittleBigCat blog (the most comprehensive & sensible advice I've ever seen on the subject of litter box problems)

Litter Box Solutions by Precious Cat Litter (more sensible advice)

Making the Switch
The bottom line is that declawed cats are more prone to the same kinds of behavioral issues that the declawing was supposed to eliminate.  A peed-on sofa is not an improvement over a clawed sofa, and a cat who resorts to biting because her sore paws make her more sensitive to being handled is not going to make her a better pet for kids.  

For the record, declawing is now illegal in many countries including England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, New Zealand, Brazil, Australia, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Portugal, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Spain, and the Netherlands.

Look into the catbox for answers!  (hehe)  Cat Daddy, a.k.a. Jackson Galaxy, recommends a gradual change with no more than a 1/2 cup of new litter added to the catbox every day to allow your cat time to adjust to the new scent & feel of the litter.  If Fluffy starts peeing in the house again, replace some of the new mixture with clay litter & wait for a couple of days to give your cat a chance to acclimate & return to the box.  Then, start adding a 1/2 cup of new litter each day until the clay litter is replaced entirely.  The whole process can take a few weeks depending on how quickly your cat adapts to the feel of the new litter.    

Positive Outcomes
Litter box problems and biting are common issues for declawed cats, and both can be resolved with patience and a simple change of cat litter.  Remember, your cat loves you unconditionally.  If behavioral issues come up, your cat is trying to tell you something in the only way that he knows how.

Here's to getting along with our furry friends!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tuesday's Cupboard—Caramel Stuffed Pumpkin Cookies

Think snickerdoodles with chunks of melty caramel in the center

From Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice blog by Reeni Pisano

Caramel Stuffed Pumpkin Cookies
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 + 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 + 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons + 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (14 ounce) bag Kraft Caramels (unwrap about 30 of them)

1.  Line 2 large cookie sheets with silpats or parchment paper.

2.  In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer beat the butter and 1 cup sugar together on medium speed 2 minutes. Add the pumpkin and vanilla beat on low 2 more minutes.

3.  In a small bowl whisk together the flour, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, cloves, ginger, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add to the sugar mixture and beat on low just until combined. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

4.  After 30 minutes scoop up very slightly rounded tablespoons of the dough, stick a caramel in the center and roll into a ball. Set on one of the parchment lined cookie sheets - it's ok if they're crowded just try not to let them touch. Repeat until all the cookie dough is used up. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

5.  When ready to bake preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk the remaining 1/2 cup sugar with 2 tablespoons cinnamon in a wide, shallow bowl.

6.  Working in batches, roll the cookies in the cinnamon sugar and bake 2 inches apart for 14 minutes. Refrigerate the unbaked cookies in between batches.

7.  Allow the cookies to cool completely on the baking sheets. Store in tightly covered containers up to a week.
  • Inspired by The Cooking Photographer
  • Copyright ©2013 Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice by Reeni Pisano All Rights Reserved

Monday, September 9, 2013

Monday—The Ransom Note Corner

Letter play with  free virtual ransom note generators & downloadable fonts

Click HERE to go to a fun site for generating your own ransom notes with virtual magazine clippings.

You can also upload your own background image from your desktop.  I created a blank orange background in Photoshop Elements and saved it as a 600x600 pixel jpeg.  The font is always the same, but you can shift to grayscale and reverse negative by clicking the foreground and background links just under the image window.

I saved my image in web archive format, emailed it to myself, saved it in iPhoto, and dropped it into PS Elements to save as a jpeg.  There is probably a more efficient way to save in jpeg format, but that's what I came up with this morning.  You can probably save a finished image from the website in something other than web archive format if you take the time to consider all of the save options.

from also has a fun ransom note generator, but you can't save the images and use them because the letter fonts are created by different artists, and all copyrights are reserved.  But, it's a fun place to play!

Click HERE if you want to download some great free ransom note fonts from fontspace.  Check the individual use agreements for each one.  Most are for non-commercial use.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Going Underground in Las Vegas

Why wait for the nuclear holocaust?  I say we nuke this beacon of horrible decor right now...

A lovely house in CREEPSVILLE, USA

Oh, hey!  It's a Vegas...listed for 1.6 Mil.  5 bedrooms, 4 baths, 16,936 square feet...wait...what?

Street view_the big surprise is 26 feet underground

It has an intercom so that you can talk to the post-apocalyptic zombies who live upstairs.

I'd rather let the zombies take me than live with this bathroom for a year

kill me now...

Post-Modern Coffin decor
Originally built by eccentric businessman and co-founder of Underground World Home Corp., Girard B. "Jerry" Henderson, the house has changed hands twice since its construction in 1971. The bank foreclosed in June of last year.

According to the the Henderson family website, Jerry and his wife, Mary, moved to Las Vegas in 1969.  They now reside permanently underground, if you know what I mean.

Click HERE to find out more about the interesting life of Jerry Henderson

Click HERE to see the listing on®  Address:  3970 Spencer Street, LV NV 89119

Emergency access

A room with a view

Murals throughout the home's exterior painted by Jewell Smith

One of these things is not like the others...

Absolutely surreal