pen rainbow

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Throw-Back Thursday—New Year's Day 1977

This photo is date stamped in the bottom right corner: 77 1  1

new year's day 1977

Jimmy, Lynn, Troi & Steve at the Nelsons' house

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Tuesday's Cupboard—Roasted Veggies

One of my all-time faves!

roasted veggies

a great way to use up fresh veggies!

equipment:  1 large nonstick roasting pan
preheat oven to 450°F


1+1/4 lb. new potatoes, scrubbed & quartered
3 medium zucchinis, halved & sliced into chunks
1 red, yellow, orange & green bell pepper, cut up
1 large sweet onion, cut up
3 red or golden beets, peeled & cut up
3 small or 2 large meyer lemons, quartered & seeded
6 garlic cloves, halved or 3 T. jarred chopped garlic in H2O

optional:  1 or 2 cobs of fresh corn kernals

3 T. fresh thyme leaves (stripped from the stalks)
3 T. fresh rosemary, whole leaves
3 T. fresh sage, torn up
kosher salt
cracked black pepper
2 T. chili powder
2 T. cumin

olive oil to coat
(I use lemon and jalepeño spiced oils for extra zest)

make it!

combine all ingredients and toss to coat

bake until veggies are tender, 35 to 45 mins
stir occasionally to prevent burning

serve topped with low-fat sour cream & fresh greens


ready for the oven!

ready for the table!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Monday's Disney Corner—Attraction Closure List 2016

Disneyland's list of attractions that will close in January 2016 to make room for a new 14-acre Star Wars themed land

Frontierland's petting zoo — Disneyland 1988

gone for good

big thunder ranch in frontier land
big thunder ranch barbecue
big thunder ranch petting zoo
big thunder ranch jamboree

temporarily closing

mark twain riverboat
sailing ship columbia
pirates lair on tom sawyer island
disneyland railroad
davy crockett explorer canoes

click HERE for details

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas 2015

From our house to yours

merry christmas

Christmas tree 2015

Little Christmas folk

Christmas doll from Denmark

Retro Christmas ornament from our tinsel tree

peace & joy to you

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Throw-Back Thursday Christmas Eve 2015

Steve & Jimmy

jingle, jingle, jingle

Christmas presents!

you will hear my sleigh bells ring!

happy christmas eve

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas Dinner 2015—Alsace Onion Tart

A traditional Christmas dinner in Alsace

Oo-la-la!  Creamy onion tart
& salad with blue cheese crumbles

alsace onion tart

preheat oven to 400°F
equipment:  12" nonstick skillet with a fitted lid

  • 2 frozen 9" deep dish pie crusts, mostly thawed (room temp for 10-15 minutes)
  • 6 slices lean, thickly sliced bacon cut into 1/4" chunks
  • 5 T. butter (I use Danish Creamery for extra creaminess)
  • 3 large sweet onions, halved & sliced into 1/4" slices (about 8 cups)
  • 1-1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper
  • 1 c. crème fraîche
  • 2 large eggs + 1/2 c. Egg Beaters
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • paprika

make it!
  1. Lightly prick the bottoms of the pie shells with a fork.  Pre-bake shells according to instructions on the package (usually 9 minutes on 400°F); set aside to cool
  2. Cook chopped bacon in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally to separate the slices.  Cook for 6-8 mins until crisp.  
  3. Transfer bacon with a slotted spoon to paper towels; drain & cool.  Pour off fat from pan. 
  4. Add butter to skillet & cook onions with 3/4 tsp. salt & 1 tsp. cracked black pepper over moderate heat, stirring until wilted (about 4 minutes).
  5. Cover onions & continue to cook until soft & pale golden, about 15-20 minutes.  Allow onions to brown & caramelize, but stir occasionally to prevent burning.
  6. Remove onions from heat.  Stir in bacon & cool the onion-bacon mixture for 10 mins.
  7. Whisk together crème fraîche, eggs, nutmeg, remaining 1/2 tsp. kosher salt & 1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper.  Stir in onion-bacon mixture.
  8. Pour filling into pie shells, spreading onions evenly.  Sprinkle paprika over the tops for holiday color.
  9. Bake until filling is set & tops are golden, 25 to 35 minutes (I bake mine for 30 mins).
  10. Serve warm or at room temp.

I serve this with an undressed salad of fresh mixed greens, cherry tomatoes & crumbled blue cheese.  The undressed salad complements the richness of the onion tart. 

joyeux noël   

I use thick sliced bacon from the butcher counter at Whole Foods

Use créme fraîche & freshly ground nutmeg for a creamy, rich texture

Two of my favorite things

French Champagne for the cook

fresh holly from our neighbor's tree

Thursday, December 17, 2015

#TBT—Kid Pix Christmas Cards 1991

Our kids made these cards using Kid Pix c. 1991

kid pix 1991

this is a photo of the screen on our old Mac2

Santa has a brown moustache 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tuesday's Cupboard—Miso Soup

When you're tired of turkey...

Easy_healthy_satisfying miso soup

miso soup
adapted from Weight Watchers Magazine_Sept/October 2012

Heat 1 tsp. sesame oil in a medium sized soup pot

Add 1 box sliced mushrooms

Cook 1 minute

Add 4 cups veggie broth
(I use knorr's double-size cubes &
make my own in the microwave)

Add 2 T. miso

Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium
& simmer

Add 2 bunches of cleaned bok choy
cut into ribbons

Optional:  Add 2 strands of rehydrated
Wakame (edible seaweed), sliced into ribbons

Soak in hot water for 10 minutes, then slice into ribons

Optional:  Add shredded carrots &/or fresh pea pods

Add 1 container of firm tofu,
drained & squeezed between paper towels,
then cut into 1/2" cubes

Use firm tofu

Cook 4 minutes & serve hot

Add fresh pea pods, if desired

serve with steamed jasmine rice


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Sunday—Finding Joy During the Holidays

Coping with life's issues during the holidays

christmas 2015

finding joy

It isn't always easy to find happiness during the holidays.  Traditions help.  I put up our tabletop tinsel Christmas tree last weekend, and that brought back memories of decorating the big Douglas pines with our kids.  There's just something about stringing the lights and hanging the ornaments that is joyful, no matter what kind of tree you have.

This morning while I was checking email and drinking coffee, I looked out of the sliding glass door and saw the spunky young doe who was born on our property last Spring.  While I was hanging laundry one day, she bounded out of the side yard and saw me for the first time.  

She was reddish-tan with white spots and no bigger than a cocker spaniel.  I froze knowing that there was a protective mother nearby, and we stared at each other until she turned and bounced off into the back yard.

It's a real life Bambi and Thumper story, except instead of a rabbit, this little deer has made friends with two feisty red squirrels.  Whenever I see her grazing on the newly sprouted winter growth in our back yard, her two fluffy companions are close by, charging up and down the fence posts, flicking their bushy tails and playing tag on top of the wood pile.  

This scene gives me joy.  Watching this young deer grow is a gift.  To me, this is Christmas.

giving help

I love helping.  It doesn't matter if it's a human or an animal, it gives me great joy to help someone in need.  As much as I love to complain about them, I love taking care of our geriatric cats.  Yes, it is an inconvenience, but they depend on us, especially in December when it is cold outside, and they need extra warmth.  We help them, and in return they give us unconditional love.  

Unconditional love is their gift to us.  To me, this is a powerful reminder of why we celebrate Christmas.  It is about giving and sharing unconditional love.

sharing optimism

This month, we are helping our adult daughter move out of a shabby apartment owned by a deranged slumlord.  In addition, her soon-to-be exhusband threatened to serve her with divorce papers last week, so she is not having a very good Christmas.  

The ex doesn't know it, but his gift to us is the divorce.    

Christmas came early for our daughter when against all odds, she managed to snag a temporary room to live in until she can move into a newly renovated apartment that will be ready at the beginning of February.  The slumlord canceled her lease at the end of December, so she had to move by the end of this month.    

It took krones to make it all happen, and that's where our Christmas gift comes in.  Sometimes, the most valuable gift that anyone can give is one without strings.  To me, this is the best kind of gift to give.

accepting loss

For me, Christmas is a time to reflect on the year and to accept everything that has happened, even when things don't work out exactly as planned.  

  • Relationships end.
  • Marriages fail.
  • Friends grieve over unexpected loss.
  • Bigotry is tolerated. 

Loss is a part of life.  With loss comes compassion, acceptance, clarity, and change.  Profound loss taps into our most basic qualities as caring individuals.  We reach out to comfort strangers and friends as they grieve.

celebrating christmas

For me, Christmas is about finding joy, giving help, sharing optimism and accepting change.  More than anything, Christmas is about appreciating small miracles when they happen.

  • In the middle of winter in Denmark, our daughter found a place to live.  Her new landlady gave her a Christmas ornament of an angel wearing a Batman mask.  

  • Next Spring, the deer family will have another set of twins.  Perhaps, I will meet them when I am hanging the laundry.  

  • Summer will bring long days and dinners out in the gazebo.  The hummingbirds who are spending the winter here with us will sip sugar water from their feeder while we eat homemade poké with chopsticks and listen to Hawaiian music.

  • In the Fall, our trees will explode with color that is so pure and bright that it will shine through the curtains and cast a golden orange hue into every room. 

have a joyful holiday season

Thursday, December 10, 2015

#TBT—Christmas 1981

Probably our first Christmas alone at our condo in Concord 1981

just us

Wicker chairs, a foam fold-out sofa, a découpage block table & a live tree_I made the tree skirt
Looks like we got electronic football games from Santa

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tuesday's Christmas 2015 Cupboard—Corn Pancakes & Smoked Salmon

Adapted from Cooking Light_August 2012

corn pancakes
with smoked salmon
& meyer lemon-chive cream

A delicious way to use Christmas Meyers!


available in packs of four at safeway

  • 1/4 c. light sour cream
  • 2 T. chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tsp grated fresh lemon rind

  • 1/2 c. all-purpose flour (2.25 ounces)
  • 1/2 c. yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground red pepper

  • 1+1/4 c. fresh corn kernels (3 ears)
  • 2/3 c. low-fat buttermilk
  • 3 T. butter, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 12 thin slices cold smoked salmon (6 oz.)
optional:  ground cumin

make it!

Add a little cumin on top for a hint of Tex-Mex

  1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a small bowl; chill cream mixture in fridge.
  2. Combine flour & next 5 ingredients in a medium bowl, or a food processor.
  3. Combine 1 c. fresh corn kernels (leave 1/4 c. remaining), buttermilk, butter & eggs.  Add to flour mixture & blend until coarsely mixed.
  4. Fold in remaining 1/4 c. corn kernels.
  5. Pour about 1/4 c. per pancake onto a hot nonstick skillet.  Spread gently with the back of a spoon to flatten each pancake.  
  6. Cook until bubbly & edges are lightly browned (about 3 mins); flip pancakes & cook for about 1 minute more.
  7. Arrange 2 pancakes per plate.  Top each pancake with 1 slice of smoked salmon & 2 T. lemon-chive cream.  Sprinkle on cracked black pepper.
  8. Serve immediately & enjoy!
bon appétit