pen rainbow

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween 2015

Boo!  Happy Cute-Kids-in-Costumes Day

halloween 2015

steve's awesome heirloom jack

troi's happy heirloom jack

nelson halloween house

this little ghost goes up on halloween night

scream-worthy vampire bat
2 of these guys hang from the trees along the sidewalk to the porch

doorbell decos
i like to put out unscary things for the kiddies to look at

trois skulljack (nelson jacks wear halloween crowns)

trick-or-treaters love to look inside of the haunted house
(battery-operated candles in all of the porch decos)




happy halloween

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tuesday's Cupboard—Sweet Potato Cheesy Soup

What to do with sweet potatoes?

Creamy_hearty_cheesy wonderfulness

sweet potato cheesy soup

serves 4 - 6
prep level:  easy

equipment: hand emulsion blender

  • 4 large sweet potatoes — cleaned, peeled & chopped into 2" chunks
  • 1 large chopped sweet yellow onion (Wallawalla, Vidalia)
  • olive oil
  • 8 cups of freshly made vegetable broth (Knorr's)
  • ground nutmeg
  • 1 cube of Neufachâtel cream cheese
  • crumbled goat cheese

delightful fresh sweet potatoes

make it
  1. In a large soup pot, sauté onion in 1 T. olive oil until onions are tender (about 3 mins)
  2. Add chopped sweet potatoes & veggie broth
  3. Bring to a boil; reduce to low & cook until potatoes are soft (about 20-25 mins)
  4. Remove from heat; while still hot, blend with hand emulsion blender to combine potatoes & broth
  5. Add 1 cube of Neufachâtel cream cheese; blend until cheese is melted and soup is smooth & creamy
  6. Mix in 2 pinches of ground nutmeg
  7. Serve & top with crumbled goat cheese, sprinkles of paprika & freshly ground pepper.  

Delicious as leftovers!  Heat on the stovetop, stirring often to prevent scorching on the bottom of the pot; add veggie broth, if necessary, to thin.

simmer in veggie broth until potatoes are tender


Thursday, October 22, 2015

throwback thursday—vampire dog & pumpkin kitty

caraboo & clara


vampire dog 2007


pumpkin kitty 2010

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

good4u diy halloween masks

Awesome DIY mask designs by Steve & Marianne Wintercroft

$7.14 on Etsy

diy halloween masks

Check out these spectacular mask designs by Steve & Marianne Wintercroft!   

  • Digital plans purchased online eliminate manufacturing & shipping expenses
  • Masks are intended to be built from discarded cardboard (e.g. poster board, cereal boxes, lightweight boxes)
  • Paint your own design
  • Masks can be recycled after use

Go to their Etsy shop

use your imagination...

golden lion

forest owl


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Tuesday's Cupboard—Harvest Stuffed Pumpkin

Sugar pumpkins are just the right size for this recipe!

Wild rice, barley, wheat berries, fresh fennel, julienned carrots
& sweet yellow onion bake for 2 hours in a fresh pumpkin

Harvest Stuffed Pumpkin

adapted from weight watchers magazine november/december 2012

prep 45 mins /cook 3 hours /serves 4/ make ahead 3 days

  • preheat oven to 350°F
  • line a large roasting pan with nonstick foil
  • lower the oven racks to accommodate the pumpkin


  • 2-1/2 c. knorr's homemade vegetable broth
  • 1/2 c. wild rice 
  • 1/3 c. pearl barley
  • 1/3 c. wheat berries (available in the bulk food section at Whole Foods)

sugar pumpkins are sweeter & easier to cut and clean 

save the seeds & roast later in olive oil & kosher salt  

  • 1 large sweet yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, cleaned & chopped, including stems & tops
  • 3-4 cups pre-cut julienned carrots
  • 1/4 c. dried cranberries
  • freshly ground black pepper & kosher salt
  • 1—4 to 4.5 lb. sugar pumpkin, seeds & strings removed; save the stem cap

make it

1.  Bring veggie broth & grains to a boil in a medium-sized (3 qt.) saucepan.  Reduce heat, cover with the lid slightly tipped to prevent boil over & simmer on low for 45 mins to 1 hour until all or most of the liquid is absorbed, and the grains are tender. Remove from heat & set aside.
2.  Meanwhile, in a large non-stick skillet, heat 2 T. of olive oil over medium heat.  Add chopped onion & chopped fennel.  Sauté until tender, about 3 minutes.

3.  Add carrots to the onion/fennel mixture.  Season with cracked black pepper & 2 generous pinches of kosher salt.  Cook for another 6 to 8 mins. until all of the vegetables are tender.

4.  Transfer veggie mixture to a large mixing bowl.  Stir in cooked grains & 1/4 c. of dried cranberries.

5.  Spoon stuffing into pumpkin, leaving room for the stem cap to be placed back on as a lid.  Replace stem cap.

6.  Roast until stuffing is hot & pumpkin is fork-tender (not squishy soft), about 2 hours.

7.  When pumpkin is done, carefully remove it with hot pads from the roasting pan & set aside on a heat-proof surface.  

8.  Move the nonstick foil from the roasting pan & place into a glass casserole that is large enough to fit the pumpkin.  It doesn't have to be high, just wide enough to fit the base of the pumpkin.  Put the stuffed pumpkin into the casserole.  You will use this to reheat the pumpkin as leftovers.  Just cover with foil, refrigerate overnight, & pop it into a 350°F oven for 40 mins. the next night. 

9.  To serve, remove the cap & scoop out the stuffing first, then cut down the top around the rim of the pumpkin, removing sections as you go.  Each section should be about 2" high.  The pumpkin will get shorter & emptier as you go!  

This recipe will work with any winter squash that can be scooped out & roasted.  Use halved acorn squashes for individual servings or a 4 to 5 lb. kabocha instead of a sugar pumpkin.  I would also try this with a white pumpkin.

savory wild rice, barley & wheat berries

uncooked pumpkin stuffed to the rim

bake for 2 hours on 350 degrees

scoop out the stuffing & cut servings of cooked pumpkin from the top down

sectioned slices of pumpkin & harvest grains

bon appétit

Monday, October 19, 2015

Preservation Monday—The Little Town That Couldn't

Corruption in Boulder City, Nevada, wins again.

first aid station_hoover dam construction 1931

And, no one will do anything about it.

This Wednesday, the Boulder City Planning Commission will go through the motions of hearing an appeal by the Historic Boulder City Foundation to save the historic Six Companies hospital from demolition.  

The HBCF, founded by a young man with visionary ideas, will be represented by a classmate of mine from high school, an appellate lawyer who volunteered to help the organization for the same reasons that Steve and I—and many others, did.  It was a worthy cause, and a land swap was under discussion.

I would not have wasted my time with a local skirmish.  Boulder City had joined the historic preservation movement, and there was growing concern among its community leaders that one of the town's most historically significant buildings was about to be bulldozed and replaced by a dozen new nondescript homes, the  kind we see on every corner of every unimaginative new development in Las Vegas.  

For those with a shared history in Boulder City, it was an opportunity to bring change to a town that seemed ready for an infusion of new energy and ideas.  Whether historic preservation takes hold in Boulder City or not, it is time for the corrupt old guard to move over and make room for the next generation of civic leaders.  Cronyism at City Hall cannot block the progression of those who will be running the town when they are all drooling into their plastic cups.

Three weeks ago, I stopped hearing from the HBCF.  The chairman merged the organization with an arts group, and although Steve and I are advisory board members, no one contacted us before that decision was made.  There was no vote.  So, I don't know if the HBCF exists, or not.  

The elegance of historic preservation and the gritty determination of a grassroots community movement has been replaced by a comedy night and a plant sale.

Well, it was a good idea, and the opportunity remains to build an effective organization with the courage and conviction to stand up to corrupt city managers.  

I still believe that the dignity of Boulder City's past is worth the fight to save what is left.   

Boulder City government website

Historic Boulder City Foundation website

Saturday, October 17, 2015

saturday finances—my october portfolio

A financial novice navigating in a choppy market

Q4 2015

The Not-So-Big Surprise
  • The highly anticipated September interest rate hike did not happen.  China was wonky, so it made sense.  And, we're still waiting.  Maybe this month...maybe by December.  Everyone is expecting a hike of around +0.25%.

The Market Tightened, Anyway
  • The market tightened because investors are building up their cash positions.
  • The market tightened because the cost of oil per barrel is still lower than the cost of production for unconventional sources like shale.  Higher production costs mean less fracking & drilling.  (A little less fracking & drilling won't kill us.)      
  • The market tightened because China was busy devaluing the yuan in an orderly Chinese manner.  That means selling off foreign exchange reserves, like U.S. Treasuries and bonds, which leads to less liquidity in the Chinese market, but it's okay!  The Chinese have it under control.

A Trotting Bull
  • The charging bull we've all been gleefully riding since 2009 finally slowed down to a trot.  

Welcome to the Herd

  • Our sturdy American bull currently shares the field with skinnier bulls and maybe an emerging calf, or two.  Like it or not, the U.S. economy is part of a global market and what goes on overseas affects how U.S. markets behave every single day.  
  • QE (quantitative easing) & QT (quantitative tightening) are forces that drive the global economy.  When deflation brought down the global economy in 2008, the Fed (the U.S. central bank) and other world banks jumped in with truckloads of QE.  Trillions of assets purchased by the major central banks easily exceeded the deflationary decline in currency reserves, which contributed to a recovery in asset prices.

My New Stuff
My aggressive-growth portfolio is always on the hunt for good stocks at low prices.   

We are still in a mid-cycle business phase, moving toward a late cycle.  Over the past two weeks, I've been evaluating my sector allocations.  I am slightly overweight in tech, consumer defensives (staples), and utilities, but I lightened up some of the older inherited stocks and added some cyclicals.  Newer tech stocks will be watched carefully as we nudge closer to the late cycle.  

My new stocks   

  • Chemed (CHE) — Healthcare /Hospice
  • Hologic Inc (HOLIX) — Healthcare /Medical Imaging for Women's Heathcare
  • Tesoro Corp (TSO) — Petroleum Refining & Marketing
  • Valero (VLO)— Petroleum Refining & Marketing
  • Nike (NKE) —Consumer Cyclical /Footwear & Accessories
  • Target (TGT)— Consumer Staple/ Discount Stores
  • Kroger (KR)— Consumer Staple/ Grocery Stores 

I have 2 bond index funds—Fidelity Total Bond Index (FTBFX) and the Vanguard Total Bond Index (VBMFX).  They've been performing well, so I'm keeping them for the duration.  

Nothing New
My asset allocations (sectors) and my market cap/valuation styles are aligned with the Dow Jones U.S. Total Market Index.

Helpful Articles
Why Diversification Matters (Fidelity Learning Center)

What's ahead?  Best ideas from five experts (Fidelity Viewpoints)

happy hunting

Thursday, October 15, 2015

throw-back thursday—yesteryear's costumes

Awesome old-timey halloween costumes 

5 boys 1890

5 boys & a lady (possibly a teacher)_lexington, oklahoma
(transcendental graphics/getty)

witches 1910

the all-time classic

ghost 1905


skeleton 1935

a halloween version of dorothy from the wizard of oz
love her shoes & ankle socks
(hulton archive/getty)

candelabra 1930

a slick candelabra costume
pageant of the superstitions, london

kids 1969

store-bought classics
seacrest elementary schoool_arvada, colorado
(denver post via getty)

farmhouse halloween, early 1900s

clowns, pioneers & a soldier
(transcendental graphics/getty)

omaha 1966

(left to right)
brookie jones, chrissy stokes, heidi jones, teresa stokes, one of the youngbluff kids (?), 

troi jones, vicki thatcher

(left to right)
(back row) cousin it, brookie jones, youngbluff girl clown, lone ranger, jeanie ennega, mike taylor (?), the other mike
or andy bajorski (?) todd thatcher (?), hobo, jimmy stokes, tom barrett (?), peter pan
(front row) chrissy stokes, troi jones, heidi jones, mason jones, bret barrett,
vicki thatcher, youngbluff clowns (?), teresa stokes

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

wedn gd4u—365 pumpkin pie ice cream sandwiches

pumpkin pie + ice cream = happy

how wonderful!

pumpkin pie ice cream 

they are as good as they look

available at Whole Foods

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Tuesday's Cupboard—Perky Turkey Soup

My best recipe for using leftover turkey

A delicious way to finish off leftover Thanksgiving turkey!

perky turkey soup

adapted from Weight Watchers Magazine, Nov/Dec 2012

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 chopped yellow or red onion
  • 1 chopped large bell pepper
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. harissa sauce
  • 8 c. chicken broth (I use Knorr's double-cube chicken broth & make my own)
  • chopped roasted turkey (as much as you want, 4-6 cups)
  • 2 cans garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1/4 c. rinsed & chopped fresh cilantro

Look for  these pretty mini-bell peppers at the grocery store.
They are not hot, and they add color to the soup pot. 

make it
  1. Heat oil in soup pot.  Add onion & bell pepper.  Cook 5 minutes.
  2. Add cumin & harissa sauce; combine with veggies & cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add chicken broth, turkey, garbanzos & chopped cilantro.
  4. Bring to a boil & serve.
bon appétit!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Throw-back Thursday—Boulder City 1932

Cool pix from the Herbert Hoover Online digital library in the National Archives

vintage bc

Boulder City dry goods store

BC pool hall

Bouder City grocery store

BC soda fountain

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Tuesday's Cupboard—Thanksgiving Rehearsal

From the cover of Weight Watchers Magazine, Nov/Dec 2012

A Harvest Dinner

Fresh sage, parsley, thyme & chives

classic herb roasted turkey
cornbread stuffing with sausage
maple-roasted parsnips & carrots
lemony brussel sprouts
orange cranberry sauce
rich turkey gravy

classic pumpkin pie
whipped cream

Start with a 10-12 lb. turkey
I like Diestel turkeys from Whole Foods

Fresh lemon zest & lemon juice
Combine with unsalted butter & herbs
to baste the turkey under the skin as it roasts

Easy-peasy cornbread-sausage stuffing with
corn & fresh sage baked in a casserole

Cranberries with orange zest, orange juice, agave & cinnamon

Crispy parsnips

Gorgeous heirloom baby carrots

Roasted root veggies with maple syrup, Dijon mustard & thyme

Brussel sprouts & sliced mini-bell peppers tossed in
sour cream, garlic, and fresh lemon—topped with toasted breadcrumbs

Add gravy made from pan juices, white wine & giblet broth...

Dinner is served.