pen rainbow

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thursday—Happy Thanksgiving 2015

Feeling grateful 2015

Myrtle & maple leaves from our trees

Setting the table


Herb-roasted turkey

Sausage & red apple stuffing

Parsnips & carrots with thyme
Brussel sprouts & mini peppers with Parmesan crumble

Rich turkey gravy & thyme

Gramma Pearle's Dirilyte

Tasty nibbles

Cranberries with agave syrup

Carving the bird

happy thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Good for You, Good for The Home—Excellent Interior Paint!

Sherwin~Williams Ovation Primer+Paint in One in eggshell_BEST paint I've ever used!

freshen up with new paint

  • scroll over to see the before & after pix

New paint!  Sherwin~Williams Alpaca # SW 7022
 Swiss Coffee (basic white) mixed at the SW store

new bed

upholstered jaime daybed from PB Teen + mid-century organic yellow ladder stripe jacquard shams from West Elm
organic cotton Ikat gray stripe sheet set from West Elm

new rug

Metallic Diamond Kilim slate rug with silver metallic threads from West Elm
Leather storage cube /ottoman (plum no longer available) from Crate & Barrel 

new window coverings

White studio wall shelves  & baskets from pottery barn
color block silk curtains (no longer available) & modern pewter rod from West Elm
vintage painted desk + updated samsung "hospitality" size flatscreen tv with wifi

mini fridge

original Eddie Bauer distressed white furniture + lamp & mirror from pottery barn

swiss white walls & ceiling

mirrored sliding closet doors + original Eddie Bauer nightstand
clear ball lamp from pottery barn

vintage framed albums

vintage albums in Ikea album frames from Amazon
original textured wallpaper painted over in Swiss coffee white in eggshell finish

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tuesday's Cupboard—Broccoli & Cheddar Frittata

Use a bag of precut, cleaned broccoli to make this recipe even easier!

A perfect supper for chilly autumn nights

broccoli & cheddar frittata

prep: 10 min/ cook 25 mins/ serves 4 to 6
adapted from Weight Watchers Magazine Nov/Dec 2015

  • 11 large fresh eggs
  • 1 T. olive oil or butter
  • 1 small sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 c. chopped cooked broccoli
  • 1/2 c. shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
  • pinch of kosher salt & cracked black pepper

make it
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Position rack in middle of oven
  3. Heat oil until shimmering in a 10-inch oven proof skillet over medium heat
  4. Add onion & sauté until tender (3-4 minutes)
  5. Mix in broccoli with onions
  6. Pour eggs over vegetables, covering evenly.  
  7. Cook, gently lifting & pushing cooked edges toward center, allowing liquid eggs to spill through the sides & cook evenly.  
  8. Cook for about 4 minutes.
  9. Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top & transfer to hot oven.
  10. Bake until frittata is golden brown & puffed up, 12 to 15 minutes.
  11. Remove from oven.  Center of frittata should be slightly soft, but not liquid.
  12. Cut into wedges with a flexible pancake turner so as not to damage the surface of the skillet.

serve it

I like to serve this with a handful of mixed yellow & red cherry tomatoes, baby heirlooms if you can find them at Safeway or the Farmer's Market.  A glass of Chardonnay is also quite nice for brunch or supper.

bon appétit!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Saturday Finances—Portfolio One Year Anniversay

I closed my dad's trust one year ago this week!

photo by dsmp_copenhagen 2014

An Interesting Year

It's hard to believe that it's been a year since I closed my dad's trust. 

I wrote the summary report on November 15, 2014, and finished the final distribution three days later on November 18.

During 2014, I wrote detailed blogs about the mechanics of administering the family trust and all of the challenges that I faced while doing so.  Now, a year later, I can look back and review the results.

As much as 2014 was about nothing but the trust, 2015 has been about anything but!  When the trust closed, it closed for good.  I have had neither the need nor the desire to look back.  

I have learned a lot about financial management!  In the year since my dad's trust closed, I've taken almost every webinar that Fidelity has to offer and discovered that I really like learning about investments, money management, personal finances, global economics, and the stock market.  I am walking in my dad's footsteps and picking up where he left off—and his mother's before him.    

So, this year has been about celebrating accomplishments and settling into my new role with confidence and acceptance.  My dad believed in me, and I am forever changed by that.  

All that matters is making every moment count and making a positive difference in the world.  Until a year ago, I was willing to settle for less.  

But, not anymore. 

Stay positive!  Stand up for things that matter.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Tuesday's Cupboard—Roast Chicken & Strawberry Salad

Healthy & easy!

Baked boneless, skinless chicken breast, fresh greens,
sugar snap peas & strawberries!

chicken & berry salad

adapted from weight watcher's magazine may/june 2012

prep time:  20 mins
cook time:  15 mins
serves 2

preheat oven to 425°
equipment:  baking sheet, nonstick foil

  • 1/2 c. plain dried bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger (or a tsp. of jarred minced ginger)
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 c. rice vinegar
  • 1 T. sesame oil
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • cracked black pepper
  • 1 10 oz. bag fresh greens
  • 2 c. cleaned strawberries, hulled & cut up
  • 3 thinly sliced green onions, including fresh green stalks
  • 1 pkg. ready-to-eat snow peas

Optional:  Nori Komi Furikake Rice Seasoning (dried chopped seaweed & sesame seeds) or toasted sesame seeds

make it!
  1. Line the baking sheet with nonstick foil
  2. Rinse the chicken breasts; let drain on a paper towel
  3. Combine the bread crumbs & ginger; place in a small bowl
  4. Coat chicken breasts in bread crumbs & place on baking sheet; sprinkle on cracked black pepper
  5. Bake in 425°F oven for 20 minutes; remove from oven and let sit
  6. In a small measuring cup, combine vinegar, sesame oil, honey, kosher salt & red pepper flakes; whisk together well
assemble the salad
  1. Divide greens between 2 salad plates
  2. Slice chicken breasts into bite-size pieces; top greens with cut-up chicken
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine strawberries, snow peas and sliced green onions; add rice vinegar dressing & toss
  4. Divide berry mixture between the 2 salad plates
  5. Top with cracked black pepper &/or rice seasoning

hello! delicious baked chicken

fresh strawberries, snow peas & green onion in a
rice vinegar dressing


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Saturday Finances—Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT)

Learning as I go about investments & managing my portfolio

Money & property make cents


Real Estate Investment Trust

It's fun to say, isn't it (pronounced "reet)?  

A REIT is a type of security that invests in real estate through property or mortgages and often trades on major exchanges like a stock.  (investopedia) 

Because it is a trust that manages different types of real estate ventures (e.g. shopping malls, hospitals, apartment complexes, hotels, warehouses, timber land), it is a much more liquid type of investment than buying the actual properties.  You don't have to wait around and hassle with selling properties.  You just sell out of or buy into a REIT. 

A REIT is like a mutual fund for real estate.  

What's a "mutual fund?"  A mutual fund is a professionally managed pool of funds designed to meet specific objectives, like generating dividends or growth.  Dividends are good for investors who want to generate income; growth is good for investors who want to build their investment portfolios over time.  

REITs are required by law to distribute at least 90 percent of their yearly taxable income (created by income producing real estate) to their shareholders, which makes them attractive to income investors (e.g. retirees).  This amount is tax deductible on a corporate level (because a REIT is a corporate entity) and generally taxed at a personal level.  Pretty cool, huh?

Because a REIT is a fund consisting of numerous property investments, it provides greater protection against a loss associated with any single real estate investment.  Diversification manages risk by investing in a variety of different investments within a portfolio or a fund.

Anyone who owns a house has invested in real estate.  But, the value of real estate fluctuates depending on interest rates and inflation, so there is always a risk.  Selling shares in a REIT is a lot easier and faster than putting a property on the market in a down economy.  

As with any investment decision, there is a lot of homework to do beforehand.  With REITs, look at the management team (who is managing the fund); the diversity of the fund (is it heavily invested in one type of real estate venture?); and its earnings (look carefully at overall performance). 

Read articles and pay attention to economic trends that may affect the value of real estate.  

REITs are interesting animals if you're looking for an income generating fund to add to your investment portfolio.  Personally, it's a little too early for me to jump on the REIT bandwagon.  Things are starting to shape up for real estate, but there's an interest hike expected next month and more on the way in 2016, so I'm in a hold pattern when it comes to the real estate sector.  

Good reads:

The REIT Way, Investopedia; 26 Nov 2003

Stay sharp & good luck!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Throwback Thursday—Previously Unseen Pix from the Great Depression

From the Yale University interactive database, photogrammar

Photo by Fritz Henle, Library of Congress
A crossroad sign on the property of the Basic Magnesium plant (in the background)
still under construction in December 1942


From 1935 to 1944, the Farm Security Administration—Office of War Information (FSA-OWI) undertook the largest photography project ever sponsored by the federal government.  In order to build support and justify government programs designed to aide the poorest farmers displaced by the Depression, the Historical Section (a division of the Resettlement Administration) set out to document the relief efforts.  

Some of the most iconic images of the Great Depression were shot by photographers such as Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, and Arthur Rothstein, who all helped shape the visual culture of the era.  

Of the 170,000 photos, most have been stored in filing cabinets at the FSA-OWI.  A team of researchers from Yale recently created a web-based interactive platform called, Photogrammar, for organizing & searching this collection.  Most of the photos have not been viewed since they were placed in the gov archives over 70 years ago.

I did a search for Clark County, Nevada, and found some remarkable early photos of gambling in Las Vegas, some beautiful black-and-whites of familiar terrain, and some fascinating shots of the Basic Magnesium plant under construction, 1942-43.  Here are just a few from the collection... 

Basic Magnesium 1942 - 1943

Green Valley 

Basic Magnesium plant in Henderson_February 1943
photo by Fritz Henle_Library of Congress

A worker's wife waters a newly planted lawn around one
of the thousand demountable houses built in Henderson for the employees
at Basic Magnesium Inc._Febr 1943
photo by Fritz Henle_Library of Congress

A billboard on the grounds of the Basic Mag plant showing tracer bullets, one of the
products manufactured from the magnesium processed by this plant.
"MacArthur's job is fighting.  OURS is magnesium."
photo by Fritz Henle_Dec 1942

familiar sights

joshua tree_looks like Eldorado Valley
photo by Arthur Rothstein_March 1940

yuccas & rocks in henderson
photo by Arthur Rothstein

Charleston Park
Photo by Arthur Rothstein_March 1940

Main Street_Las Vegas
Photo by Arthur Rothstein_March 194

Vegas slots
Photo by Arthur Rothstein_March 1940

Wheel of Fortune
Photo by Arthur Rothstein_March 1940

Paying the tab at a restaurant in Vegas
No Sales Tax!
Photo by Arthur Rothstein_March 1940

search for more pix on photogrammar HERE

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Wednesday—Good for You, Good for The Home: Mermaid Tail Blankets

Get the pattern on Etsy for $4.95 USD

My yarn bin

skill level: intermediate

single crochet
half double crochet
double crochet
slip stitch
front loop & back loop

sizes: fit is loose

hook size:
"N" (9mm) crochet hook

stitch marker
yarn needle
measuring tape

get the downloadable pdf pattern on etsy:

$4.95 usd

order a mermaid tail blanket from one of jennifer's recommended etsy vendors


$60 to $150 usd

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Tuesday's Cupboard—Amped Up Burgers

Turkey burgers topped with baked Parmesan crisps & fresh mushrooms sautéd in Ponzu sauce — simply delicious!

fresh ginger adds a flavor flair to these tasty burgers

amped up burgers

adapted from Weight Watcher's Magazine may/june 2012

prep:  20 minutes
cooking time:  about 15 minutes
serves 4

equipment:  cookie sheet & silpat silicone mat
large nonstick skillet
fine shredder

  • 1/3 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1.25 lbs. lean ground turkey
  • 1 small finely shredded zucchini (about 1 cup)
  • 2 tsp. grated fresh ginger (or jarred minced ginger)
  • 1 tsp. chopped garlic in H2o (or 1 fresh garlic, chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • canola or olive oil
  • 1 pkg. precut, pre-cleaned fresh white mushrooms
  •  3 T. Kikkoman Ponzu citrus-seasoned sauce or plain soy sauce
  • 4 whole wheat hamburger buns
  • cooking spray (plain or olive oil)
  • optional condiment:  wasabi mayo (1/4 c. best foods mayo + 4 tsp. wasabi paste + 1/4 c. Greek yogurt)
  • optional sides:  cherry tomatoes & 1/2 fresh avocado

make it!

parmesan crisps:
  1. preheat oven to 375°f
  2. line cookie sheet with silicone baking mat
  3. mix shredded parmesan cheese with 1 tsp. flour in bowl
  4. divide mixture into 4 equal mounds
  5. place on baking sheet 4" apart
  6. flatten each cheese stack into a 3" round with the back of a tablespoon
  7. bake until cheese crisps are melted & golden, about 10 minutes
  8. cool on sheet for 2 minutes; remove if necessary to prevent scorching on the bottoms
...meanwhile, wrap the hamburger buns in foil & place in the oven to heat.  Lower the temp to 350°f

a flavor twist on plain ol' hamburgers

  1. mix ground turkey breast, 1 c. shredded zucchini, 2 tsp. grated ginger, chopped garlic & salt.
  2. shape into 4 1/2" thick patties
  3. spray pan with nonstick olive oil cooking spray
  4. fry patties on medium heat in a nonstick large skillet for 10 mins on each side (watch these because they brown quickly); about 20 mins. total
  5. remove patties from skillet & add about 2 tsp. canola or olive oil
  6. toss in 1 pkg of fresh sliced mushroom; sauté until tender, about 6 minutes
  7. stir in Ponzu sauce & cook until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 2 minutes

bubbly fresh mushrooms sautéd in citrus-flavored Ponzu sauce

  1. place 1 burger on each hamburger bun
  2. top each pattie with 1/4 c. mushrooms & 1 cheese crisp
  3. add greens & condiments (I serve these with wasabi mayo & classic dijon mustard)
  4. add a handful of cleaned cherry tomatoes & 1/2 of a cut-up avocado on the side

bon appétit

Monday, November 2, 2015


the drumbeat of nanowrimo has begun!

working title for my 2015 nanowrimo novel

national novel writing month

Basically, it's a contest against yourself to write a 50,000 word composition in 30 days.  Hopefully, it will resemble a novel by the time you're finished. 

It starts at Midnight on November 1 and ends at 11:59 p.m. on November 30.  Yep, you get to work through the Thanksgiving holiday!   

It doesn't have to be good.  The point is to write every day and at least pretend that you're an author.  You'll get the chance to fix it later.  

You get virtual badges along the way, but nothing bad happens if you don't finish.  And, you get to invite people to be your writing buddies.  Unlike the emotionally explosive minefield of Facebook, wrimo buddies are invisible and silent most of the time, and account profiles are so sparse there is nothing to spy on.  Wrimos keep it real.  

It's free, but you can donate to nanowrimo's literacy and creative writing programs.  You'll get a halo over your profile picture, which is kind of cute and nice.  Donations start at $10.  

It all started in the San Francisco Bay Area, but now everybody's getting into the annual habit of drinking too much coffee, not getting enough sleep, and alienating family members.  

Oh, it's a lot of fun.  It actually is, but you'll need to free yourself from the usual social constraints and become an obsessive a-hole for a month.  What better time than the holidays to embark on a writing tangent that is basically meaningless?  At least, you'll have a semi-good excuse this year.

Anyhoo, check it out and try it, if you feel like holing up and driving yourself crazy this year.  It is the only time of year when I am up past 9 o'clock at night.

1,667 words a day for 30 days.  

What wrimos write is confidential, unless you feel like sharing.  I don't, but here's a brief description.  Don't get too attached to the title.  I change it about every other day.  As usual, I write completely made-up fiction that is loosely based on characters from my real life.  Most of them are dead (to me, anyway).  


Under 89046 (A Ghost Story)

A conversation between two sisters—the younger, a ghost buried in the family plot in a remote pioneer cemetery in Searchlight, Nevada, and the older, a 58-year old survivor of the family's tumultuous past.  
They meet once a year to catch up on ordinary and extraordinary lives.

Join the wrimo nation today!

Sunday, November 1, 2015


The trees are turning, it's sweater weather, it's november!

Persimmons from my neighbor's tree


my favorite november things

spectacular fall leaves
winter squash
the grandest of holiday dinners
polished silver
quilts on the beds
crackling fireplaces
crisp clear nights
cozy sweaters 
wild turkeys
writing christmas cards
holiday visits
first snow in the mountains
hot beverages
blockbuster movies
holiday wreaths
ripe meyer lemons on our tree
  nuts in shells
Indian corn
tick tock fall back
flocks of geese flying south for the winter
first winter rain
harvested fields
hay bales
thanksgiving leftovers

countdown to christmas

happy november!