pen rainbow

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tuesday's Cupboard—Asparagus & Potato Flatbreads

A tasty recipe inspired by Martha Stewart online 

I've modified this recipe by adding Mrs. Dash herb seasoning to the potatoes-asparagus mixtures and by using pre-made naan flatbreads instead of frozen pizza dough.  I've adjusted the cooking times to accommodate.  I've also pre-cooked the potatoes.  I like to use crumbled goat cheese instead of the non-crumbled tube variety.

asparagus & potato flatbreads

A little labor intensive, but so worth it!

  • buy crumbled goat cheese in containers
  • skip the frozen pizza dough; use ready-made naan flatbreads sold in the bread aisle

  • 4 naan flatbreads 
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • cracked black pepper
  • Mrs. Dash salt-free garlic & herb seasoning
  • 2 large Yukon gold potatoes, peeled & thinly sliced
  • 1 lb. large asparagus stalks, trimmed & thinly sliced with a vegetable peeler
  • 2 containers crumbled goat cheese (about 1-1/2 cups)

make it!

Asparagus-and-Potato Flatbread | Everyday with Sarah Carey, published on 20 April 2012

Preheat oven to 400°F

Skip making the frozen pizza dough.  Use naan flatbreads, instead.  Lightly brush the tops of the flatbreads with olive oil.

Potatoes  Meanwhile, wash, peel & slice the potatoes.  Toss in olive oil with 1 tsp. of Mrs. Dash, a sprinkle of kosher salt & some cracked black pepper.  Arrange in a single layer on a Silpat baking sheet.  Precook the potatoes on 400° for 8-10 mins. Check for doneness after 8 minutes.  They should be tender throughout.

Asparagus  While the potatoes are cooking, clean & trim the asparagus sprigs.  Use a sharp potato peeler to slice each asparagus into slivered pieces.  Cut up any long pieces into 3" segments.  Toss the asparagus in olive oil, Mrs. Dash, a little kosher salt & some cracked black pepper.    

Use fatter asparagus to make shredding easier
(These skinny ones worked just fine, however)

Assembly  When the potatoes are done, remove them from the cooking sheet & arrange on the flatbreads in hinged layers so that none of the potatoes are completely covered.

Creamy roasted Yukon gold potatoes arranged on flatbreads

Place the flatbreads back onto the Silpat & top each one with an even distribution of shredded asparagus.  Drizzle with olive oil.    

Top each flatbread with crumbled goat cheese. 

Cook  Pop the flatbreads into the 400° oven & cook for 12 minutes until asparagus is crisp-tender & the goat cheese has begun to brown. 
Watch them because the bread burns easily!  Check after 10 minutes.  If the bread starts to burn, remove the flatbreads from the oven, move to individual plates, and zap each flatbread for 2 mins. to heat through.

Serve  Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut into wedges.  

bon appétit!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Happy Memorial Day 2016

Remembering their service

Memorial Day 2016

Old Spice flag at the Searchlight Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery Memorial Day

Arlington National Cemetery on Facebook

• hello • summer • time •

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sunday—American Flag 101

It's flag time!

Get your flag on!

American Flag Etiquette

Parts of the Flag

from the Gettysburg Flag® Works

A.  Header—Strong fabric used to reinforce the edge of the flag

B.  Grommet—A reinforced hole in the header used for mounting the flag

C.  Canton, Field or Union—the blue field with stars

D.  Fly End—the edge of the flag opposite the header

E.  Fly—the edge of the flag at the bottom

F.  Hoist—the header edge of the flag that is mounted to the flagpole


  • When hung horizontally or vertically against a wall or in a window, the flag must be flat with the union (stars) uppermost & to the viewer's left, like this... 
from Country Living Magazine

  • When flown with another flag, the American flag should be placed like this...
From Country Living Magazine

  • The flag should be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of States or localities or pennants of societies are grouped and displayed from staffs.

  • When flying cross-staff, the American flag should be positioned like this...
From Country Living Magazine

  • If flown at night, the American flag must be illuminated.

How to Raise & Lower the Flag
  • Raise the flag briskly, while lowering the flag slowly & ceremoniously.
  • On Memorial Day, fly the flag at half-staff until Noon to show respect for fallen soldiers; then, raise it to full staff.
  • When hoisting the flag to half-staff, raise it to the peak for an instant, then lower it to the half-way position.

Fold the Flag

Dos & Don'ts

  • Don't use the flag as clothing or as an accessory
  • Don't mark or label the flag
  • Don't let the flag touch the ground
  • Do wash flags in cool water with mild detergent
  • Flags damaged beyond repair should be disposed of in a dignified manner (cut up, recycled, burned)

U.S. Code, Title 36, Chapter 10, Section 176. Respect for Flag

• Old • Glory •

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Saturday Finances—5 Easy Ways to Avoid Fraud

Practical recommendations from the FTC

Protect your information

5 Easy Ways to Avoid Fraud

1.  Never respond to an online request for personal or financial information—even if it looks like the email was sent from your bank.

This will often show up as a notice from a bank or credit card company informing you of a security breach.  Ignore it.  Don't even open the email.  Instead, go to the bank's website & check for information regarding a security breach.  

2.  Do not respond to unexpected offers over the phone, especially if you are in the midst of refinancing.  

To find out if the caller is a spammer, use your caller ID, and google the phone number.  It will immediately show up on spam alert websites.

If you have an iPhone (like I do), block the caller by clicking the "i" for information next to the phone number in your "recent calls" phone log.  Scroll down to the bottom of the caller information to block the number.

Contacts > Recent > "i" > scroll down to block

Spammers have recently begun to use area codes and prefixes that are local in order to fool you into thinking that it's someone you may know.  If you don't recognize the number, don't pick up the call.

If it's legit, they will leave a message.  

3.  Do not respond to solicitations from charities, especially over the phone.  I don't care if it's your grandmother's ghost asking for a donation to the help repaint the Pearly Gates, don't give your credit card number to anyone over the phone.

A professional organization should not ask for financial info over the phone, by text, or by email.  Even if someone says they know you, don't give out your credit card number.  

Instead, donate directly to the organization's website.  

Make sure that the site uses encryption technology to protect financial info.  The URL should begin with "https."  The "s" stands for "secure," indicating that the information is encrypted and transmitted securely.  If the URL does not have an "s" as part of its http address, do not donate to the site. 

For more good tips on how to safely donate online:  American Institute of Philanthropy Charity Watch 

4.  Do not respond to email, text or phone calls regarding debt relief, student loans, insurance, disability benefits, or mortgage refi.

These phishing scams often follow in the wake of legitimate applications (e.g. mortgage refi, disability application, student loans).  

The identity thief will offer assistance in completing the application, then follow up by asking you to confirm your account number, application number, social security number, password, and other personal information.

Don't respond to a phone call from anyone inquiring about your application.  Get the name of the caller, hang up immediately, and write down the phone number.  Contact a bank representative to verify the caller, or google the number and check for a scam alert.  

Report suspicious calls & emails to the Social Security Fraud Hotline  and/or FTC Fraud Complaints.   

5.  Stay up-to-date on the latest scams by having FTC Scam Alerts sent to your email. 

• fight • fraud • stay • safe • 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Good 4U, Good 4The Home—20 Good Reasons to Declutter

Inspired by "25 Reasons to Get Rid of It," by Alexandra Churchill from Martha Stewart Living

It turns out that getting rid of stuff is really good for you!

"A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it."  ~George Carlin

Goodbye, Clutter...
Hello, Tranquility

1.  Clutter-free — A clutter-free environment lowers stress
  • Provides greater control over your environment
  • Makes a room more comfortable & inviting
  • Raises personal pride & increases self-confidence

A multi-year study published in 2012 by the Center on Everyday Lives of Families at UCLA concluded that living in a cluttered home set up the occupants for physical, emotional & mental harm.  

2. Saves time hunting for your...
  • cell phone
  • keys
  • receipt
  • stuff you brought back from vacation
  • iPad, Kindle
  • sunglasses
  • gloves or hat
  • watch
  • wallet
  • credit card
  • umbrella

According to a survey by the Bluetooth tracking company,, Americans lose an average of $5,591 in valuables over a lifetime, enough to keep a family of 4 in the U.S. well fed for four months.

3.  80 percent of what we own, we don't use.

Based on the 80/20 principle, the common rule theory of predictable imbalance observed in 1897 by Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto, we use only about 20 percent of what we own.

4.  Reducing clutter reduces the amount of time we spend doing housework.

5.  Saves on late fees because bills don't get lost in the shuffle.

6.  Make some $$ — August 13, 2016 is National Garage Sale Day.   

In 2001 C. Daniel Rhodes came up with the idea of #NationalGarageSaleDay.  It's the second Saturday in August and a really good reason to clean out the garage.

I'm not the bargaining type, but it's still a good reason to clean out the garage & donate to Goodwill.  

There's always Ebay & LetGo

7.  Get rid of old cosmetics.  

Really.  Get rid of old lipstick, mostly used powder compacts, 12 different eye shadows you'll never use, foundation that is the shade of tan you used to be, mostly dried up mascara, anything with a passed expiration date.  

8.  Reduce junk mail   

9.  Recycle phone books, travel books & seasonal catalogs

10.  Clothes: The 6-Month /1-Year Rule

If you haven't worn it for 6 months, keep it, but make a mental note to wear it.  

 If you haven't worn it for a year or more, pass it on.  Somebody else will love wearing it to their Junior Prom.

My add-on:  Get rid of clothes that no longer fit.  Sweaters, underwear, pants, button-down shirts, shoes, swimsuits.   

11.  Update your cookware, dishes & utensils.

Pay special attention to plastics.  Donate the warped ones, anything that does not have a lid that fits, and oddly shaped containers that you never use.

Empty-nesters, this is a good time to sort through the cookie-cutter collection & the multiple muffin tins.  Chances are, you are no longer baking muffins for a classroom.

Be gone cheapo kitchen knives, starting with paring knives.  Old knives tend to accumulate over time.  Wusthof & Shun are both excellent manufacturers of quality knives.

Get rid of glassware that is chipped.  

12.  Out with the old. 

  • Slippers  
  • Running shoes that they don't even make anymore
  • Outdated ties
  • Socks without mates, or those that have shrunken to fit a 10-year old girl
  •  Bed linens (an updated bed can do wonders) 
  • oven mitts &/or hotpads
  • ancient dishtowels
  • Coffee cups
  • Costume jewelry

13.  Fix it or get rid of it.

  • lawnmower
  • weedeater
  • wheel barrow
  • dustbuster
  • lamp with a tempremental on/off switch

14.  It's still good, but you never, ever use it.

  • fondue pot 
  • juicer
  • dehydrator
  • yogurt maker
  • canning jars
  • fabric
  • plastic rain ponchos
  • suitcases
  • Christmas lights & ornaments
  • Easter baskets
  • holiday tableware
  • sports gear (i.e. skis, golf clubs, balls, etc.)
  • camping equipment
  • aquarium supplies
  • bikes

15.  You don't need 12 of them, whatever it is.

  • clean out the cable supply
  • old teeshirts
  • kitchen aprons
  • glasses cases
  • rolls of wrapping paper 

16.  Your neighbor could use it.

  • baby gates
  • kid & teen clothes
  • used furniture that would be good for a college student
  • piano or other musical instrument

17.  Trade-ins

Trade in multiple gadgets for discounted rates on a new one (e.g. Amazon lets you trade-in old Kindles for a credit toward the purchase of a new model).  

Amazon Kindle Trade-In


18.  Help the Critters

Donate old towels & blankets to your local animal shelter.

19.   Help the Vets

Donate a non-cash gift to Operation Home Front.  Like-new items only...

  • household items
  • furniture
  • games & puzzles
  • children's books   

20.  Recycle Your Jeans

Send in your old jeans, and Blue Jeans Go Green™ will recycle them as UltraTouch Denim Insulation™ made from 80% post-consumer recycled denim. 

• declutter • your • life •


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Tuesday's Cupboard—Big Ol' Vegetarian Chili

Adapted from Weight Watcher's Magazine Sept /Oct 2014

Big Ol' Vegetarian Chili

serves 8

Extra good with sweet corn cut from the cob!

  • 1 T. canola or olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, chopped (mildly spicy)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 14-oz. pkg. extra-firm tofu with most of the liquid squeezed out; sliced & cut into 3/4 inch cubes
  • 3 15-oz. can black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 2-1/2 c. fresh or frozen corn kernals (3-4 cobs worth)
  • 1 15-oz. container fresh mild salsa verde
  • 3 14.5-oz. cans Italian-style chopped tomatoes
  • 1 14.5-oz. can fire-roasted chopped tomatoes
  • 3 T. chili powder
  • 3 tsp. cumin
  • 3 tsp. dried oregano
  • 3 tsp. jarred, chopped garlic in water
  • 3 T. red vinegar
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt (to taste)
  • 2 tsp. cracked black pepper
  • 8 large radishes, sliced
  • 1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro

Add-ins /Sides:
  • pre-shredded jack cheese
  • tortilla chips
  • avocado
  • wheat tortillas

make it!
  1. Heat oil in large soup pot over medium heat.  
  2. Add onion & cook until softened, about 4 minutes.
  3. Stir in chopped poblano + red bell pepper & cook until softened, about 4 minutes.
  4. Stir in tofu, black beans, fresh corn kernals & salsa verde.  
  5. Stir in canned toms, chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic, vinegar, salt & pepper.
  6. Simmer until tofu is heated through and corn is tender, about 20 minutes.
  7. Serve topped with shredded jack cheese, fresh sliced radish & chopped fresh cilantro.
  8. Add a handful of tortilla chips...or sliced avocado mashed up on a folded wheat tortilla.

• celebrate • good • food •

Monday, May 23, 2016

Monday Movies—JOY

A comedy-drama starring Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Virginia Madsen, Isabella Rossellini, Édgar Ramirez, Diane Ladd & Bradley Cooper

Jennifer Lawrence won the Golden Globe for Best Actress—Musical or Comedy
& the movie was nominated for Golden Globe Best Motion Picture—Music or Comedy


Based on the true story of Joy Mangano
entrepreneur & inventor of the self-wringing mop

Available to rent on iTunes

• rent • worthy • movies •

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sunday—Tahoe in May

The beautiful Sierras in May_shot on my iPhone4 from the car_edited in Snapseed

Tahoe in May

Blue Canyon

Blue Canyon

Emigrant Gap

Emigrant Gap


Caution: Ice and Snow Take It Slow

• keep • tahoe • blue •

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wednesday—Good for You, Good 4The Garden Walls

A bright accent wall can add a beautiful design element to cinderblock walls

Bold & Beautiful

Trop pink, lavender & fuschia add pop to an otherwise dull corner
Pinned from Lauren Conrad on Pinterest

A burst of orange adds a background gallery effect to a Museum Palo Verde & gray agaves
Photo from Clio Padovani on Pinterest_Garden design by landscape architect, Steve Martino 

A lavender wall complements this well planted rock garden
Photo from on Pinterest
Garden design by David Cristiani

Flame red-orange & avocado green pop against this neutral mauve background wall
Photo from on Pinterest

(Why this works: Green, orange & purple are all secondary colors on the color wheel)

live boldly every day

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Tuesday's Cupboard—Arugula & Goat Cheese Toasts

A great light meal with a side salad or a cup of soup!

Arugula & Goat Cheese Toasts

from Weight Watchers Magazine May/June 2016

Goat cheese & plain Greek yogurt blended with fresh arugula make the spread.  Top with chopped baby heirloom toms with shaved Parm & cracked black pepper.  Delish!

  • 2 c. arugula
  • 1 3.5 oz. container crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 5.3 oz. container of plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 container of baby heirloom tomatoes
  • whole wheat sliced bread, toasted
  • shaved Parmesan cheese
  • cracked black pepper

fresh tomatoes are the best

crumbled goat cheese & plain Greek yogurt with fresh arugula

make it!

Put the arugula, the goat cheese & Greek yogurt in a food processor & blend.  Season with kosher salt & cracked black pepper to taste.

Spread arugula-cheese mixture on toast and garnish with bite-sized heirloom baby tomatoes.  Top with shaved Parmesan cheese & cracked black pepper.

• simplify • enjoy • fresh •