Any Road Will Get You There


Photo taken on Needles Highway in Custer State Park.  South Dakota.  2013.

Photo taken on Needles Highway in Custer State Park. South Dakota. 2013.

According to legend, author Ernest Hemingway was challenged to write a story in 6 words.  His story read:  “For Sale.  Baby Shoes.  Never worn.”  Then in 2006, the online magazine Smith, challenged readers to tell their life story in six words.  The submissions were compiled in a book called Not Quite What I Was Planning.  Recently, pixels2Pages (a group of very talented individuals that provide training for Panstoria Artisan software) challenged it’s subscribers to use six words to caption their photos.  It’s harder than it might seem. 

Mmmm. Mmmm. Good.

Gluten-free penne with fresh tomato basil sauce.

Gluten-free penne with fresh tomato basil sauce.

I’m not one of those people that photographs food all the time.  Promise.  But this was just too yummy not to document it.  My father brought me a big box of tomatoes last weekend.  On Saturday I used many of them along with fresh jalapeno peppers, cilantro, and onion to make fresh salsa.  SO delicious.  Not sure why I’ve never made it before.  No recipe really, just chopped until I got tired.  Tonight I looked at the box of tomatoes and decided to make a fresh pasta sauce.

It was company-worthy.  It was pretty.  And it was wonderful.  So I decided to share it with you.

Fresh Tomato-Basil Pasta Sauce

5 medium to large tomatoes – peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped.  (Take the time to do this, it makes a difference.)

2-3 T butter or olive oil  (I used butter.)

2 cloves of minced garlic.

1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped.

salt and pepper

freshly grated Parmasan cheese

Melt butter/heat oil in skillet.  Add garlic and cook briefly.  Add tomatoes and basil.  Give it a few grinds of salt and pepper.  Simmer for 20 minutes or so on low.  That’s it.  Easy peasy.  I served it with gluten-free, non-GMO corn pasta with fresh-grated Parm on top.   I don’t usually measure much unless I am baking so these amounts are kind of rough and subject to personal taste.  Bon appetit!





Chip It!

Chips.  They come in all varieties.  Chips off the old block.  Chipped crockery.  Chip shots (I hate golf with a passion).  Chips on shoulders.  Chocolate chips.  Potato chips – or crisps – if you hail from the other side of the pond.  Cow chips.  And. . . paint chips. 

I stumbled onto a wonderful little tool on the Sherwin Williams website.  It’s called “Chip It!”  Basically, you upload a photo to use (or download the little toolbar thing that works a little like the one for Pinterest) and the website creates a palette of paint colors that coordinate with your image.  I used a vintage Christmas card and here’s what it came up with:

Chip it 1

How awesome is THAT?  As you can see, you can edit the colors by dragging and dropping. You can print them out or save them too. Can you envision the possibilities?  Besides the obvious home decor uses, I can see using this to create a color palette for a sweater, mittens (I’m thinking these), scarf, or quilt project.  Or what about choosing plants/colors for your landscaping?  You could use it for just about anything where you might need a color scheme. Endless possibilities! 

When I did this one, a few reds showed up as well but none that I liked. I am thinking about creating a digital scrapbook kit around this scheme and I’d like some red in it.  So I set out to create a perfect red for the palette . . .

I used an eyedropper tool found in the Mozilla tool bar (web developer tools) to sample a red from the image. A quick click copied the hexadecimal code number to my clipboard.  Next, I found an online converter to switch that hex number to RGB values that I can use to recolor my digital scrapbook goodies in my scrapbooking software.

Screen shotA search of converters brought up several possibilities, this is just the one I chose to use.  And it was FREE – always a good thing. 

And besides all the useful applications, Chip It!  is just fun to play with.  Find a picture.  Try it out! 




Let’s Talk Yarn . . .

It’s been a while since I was really excited about a knitting project. I was just browsing projects this morning in Ravelry when I spied it: the project calling my name, The Inspira Cowl (Steampunk version).  If you’ve never heard of Ravelry,  it’s like Facebook just for knitters.  I know, that’s crazy, right?  But it’s an amazing place.  I’m not even a huge cowl person and colorwork isn’t really my “thing” either,  but I’m willing to suck it up for this project since the yarns will do most of the work for me. 

Isn’t it beautiful?  Mine will be not be as heavy since I’m using sock yarn but will still have beautiful color changes. 

Baltic Sea

Baltic Sea



Gold Hill

Gold Hill

Roadside Gerry

Roadside Gerry

I ordered all these Lorna’s Laces lovelies from The Loopy Ewe.  And no, neither of them are paying me to write how awesome they are, but they really ARE quite special.  The people at Lorna’s Laces have beautiful colorways down pat and The Loopy Ewe has a huge selection and great customer service.  You can’t ask for better. 

I’m thinking those ugly socks are on hold for a bit. 


Picture Perfect Memories

I love looking at old photographs.  So nostalgic.  I’ve been working my way through some old family photos from the hubcap’s family trying to put together a heritage album.  Sadly, my father-in-law passed away last year and many of the photos require a little explanation.  I’m trying to fill in the blanks as best I can.  Mark or label your photos in some way, peeps.  Do it.  Save your descendents from the headache of trying to figure out who people are.  I use an older version of Memory Manager from the now defunct Creative Memories company.  It still works so I’m not switching but I keep hearing nice things about Picasa.  I’ve got over 10,000 pictures in there dated and identified.  If you’re a photographer, you might want to document your camera settings, location, etc.  But seriously, keep some records in whatever fashion works for you.

Lackland AFB, San Antonio, TX 1952

Lackland AFB, San Antonio, TX 1952

Family Tradition

Family Tradition - resizedA somewhat simple page I created from an Instagram photo I took on Father’s Day this year.  I layered several papers (from several kits but the majority of the content is from the Take Wing kit) and played with the opacity to soften some of them and then flattened.  Did the same with a larger photo of the hydrangeas that were on the table and used it in the background because the flowers (a gift from my neighbor) were just too pretty to not include them. Note to self:  plant hydrangeas next spring!

15 Random Facts

1.  I always wanted to be a park ranger.  I majored in Biology, but looking back (because hindsight is always better, right?), I should have double majored in Art.  And what did I end up with as a career?  Science education.

2.  I was supposed to go to college in Colorado, but sort of at the last minute I changed my mind and attended Illinois College.  My mom’s alma mater as well.  And will be my son’s too.

3. Many years ago I received a subpoena to testify hearing for a DUI case involving a local guy. Later I married the arresting officer. We’ve been married almost 24 years despite the threat to find us in contempt of court for the flirting outside the courtroom!

4. I’m an only child and I didn’t mind it at all.

5. My dream house would be in the mountains.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park










6.  I love riding on the back of my husband’s Harley.


2013 Headed home from South Dakota.

7.  I can play the violin (but not very well anymore).

8.  I’m a whiskey girl.  Scotch or bourbon.  Either is good.  But Redbreast is delicious.

9.  There are too many books and too little time.  I’m a voracious reader.


One of many.








10.  I was pretty much ambidextrous as a kid. Teachers made me choose. So I write right handed but do many other things left handed. And am left eye dominant which my eye doc says probably makes me genetically a lefty.

11.  I’m a Chicago Blackhawks fan.

2013 First game of the Stanley Cup playoffs











12.  I think a winery is a perfect place to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Spirit Knob Winery, Ursa, IL

Spirit Knob Winery, Ursa, IL








13.  Without my husband to keep me in check, I would probable be a “crazy cat lady”.

My "Betsy Boo".

My “Betsy Boo”.









14.  I am fascinated by old abandoned houses and barns.


An abandoned house in Greene County, Illinois.

15.  I love country music and the radio station in my car rarely moves from The Highway.

Calling All Sheepdogs

I was at a law enforcement conference with my husband this week when I heard about the Hero911 Network.  Since the Sandy Hook shootings, there have been something like 74 school shooting incidents.  As a former teacher, I find the statistics both shocking and unacceptable.  The Hero911 non-profit network is a group of federal, state, and local law enforcement officers (including retirees) that have made it their goal to reduce the response time to school shooting incidents.  The average police response time is 18 minutes.  By alerting officers in the area  (yeah, there’s an APP for that) even before the 911 call is answered, it can mean that schools get help sooner and that lives are saved.  Awesome!   Follow the link.  Check it out.  And share it with cops and teachers you know!

(And if you are wondering about the sheepdog title. . . Here’s an article that explains it. 


Our Daily Bread

In January, we became a gluten-free household.  I realize it’s a sort of controversial subject sometimes, or at least it seems that way when I read online news stories about it recently.  “It’s a fad.”  “It’s a trend.”  And those are the nice things they say about people exercising their choice to control what they put in their bodies.  Until I read the book Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis, I didn’t give it much thought honestly.  But the past year I had been dealing with some significant shoulder pain issues not to mention weight had been creeping on.  The hubcap and I both read the book and decided that we would give it whirl to see if it made any difference.  The pain issue resolved itself within a few weeks.  Seriously.  Pain free.  That alone was worth it right there.  I told you it was significant pain.  It is TOTALLY worth no wheat pasta to feel good again.  AND since January I have lost 23 pounds and it’s still coming off even though I do eat moderate amounts of corn (we try to get non-GMO products but that’s more vague) and rice. We have committed to this.  Our friends say we eat like hippies, but my doctor tells me that I’m on the right track. 

That said,  the hubcap really likes sandwiches and did miss his bread.  The store bought stuff is not very good so I tried a few gluten-free low-carb bread recipes and wasn’t thrilled with the results either.  The ones with a lot of flax meal taste fishy to me.  Blech.   I do like fresh, home-made bread but can live without it.  So I just shoved finding a good bread recipe to the back burner.  But then I was browsing around in Pinterest and found this.  I ordered myself a bread shaped sandwich keeper (because yeah, we like our bread to look like bread) and got to work.  It took 85 seconds in the microwave and we had bread that hubby was happy with. 85 seconds, peeps!  And it toasted well too.  I think I owe Jillee at the One Good Thing blog a big thank you!! 


Jillee's Gluten-free bread.

Jillee’s Gluten-free bread.