Tuscan Chicken & Penne Pasta

Tuscan Chicken and Penne Pasta 2

I have another Winner Winner Chicken Dinner to share with you today.

This is a great, quick recipe that uses a rotisserie chicken or leftover grilled chicken.

Tuscan Chicken and Penne Pasta

It really is bursting with flavor, full of tomatoes and spinach and chicken, and pulled all together with a simple chicken stock based sauce and incorporated with pasta to make it a full meal deal!

Serve it with a salad and some crusty bread if you dare!

Tuscan Chicken & Penne Pasta*

Ingredients:Tuscan Chicken and Penne Pasta 2

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves fresh minced garlic
  • 1 box frozen chopped spinach or 4 cups fresh chopped spinach
  • 1 small sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 (14 oz ) cans diced tomatoes (or fresh if in season and plentiful)
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 rotisserie chicken chopped or 2-3 cups chopped leftover grilled chicken
  • 1/2 cup half and half or skim milk
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1 lb penne pasta, cooked al dente
  • Garnish:  Fresh diced tomato, fresh chopped basil, shredded fresh parmesan cheese


In a 6 qt dutch oven, saute the garlic, spinach, and onion in the olive oil.  Add the spices, salt and pepper, tomatoes and chicken stock.  Bring all to a boil.  Add chicken.

Whisk together half and half and flour until no clumps remain.  Stir into boiling pot until combined.

Allow all to simmer about 10 minutes.  Add the pasta and mix well.  Garnish and serve.

This recipe is super yummy fresh, and it is delicious reheated the next day too as leftovers for lunch or dinner as the flavors have had time to truly meld.

Hope you give it a try and enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,


*Recipe originally found and slightly adapted from http://www.galonamission.com.



Tiny Glow

Yellow Asiatic Lily Tiny Glow Mothers Day 2016

Yellow Asiatic Lily “Tiny Glow” – Mothers Day 2016

Tiny Glow

Your yellow is
bright and glowing
like sunshine and moonbeams.

Yet also
soft and buttery
like feathers and thick, creamy Chardonnay.

Your “Tiny Glow” is like the love
felt and expressed
in this beautiful gift
from a son to a mother.

Bright and glowing,
soft and buttery.
All in one,
and one to another.


Cheers & Hugs,



Painting Punta Cana

Punta Cana Ocean Beach Palm Tree Watercolor 10x14

Punta Cana Ocean Beach Palm Tree Watercolor 10×14

I found some time the other evening to splash with some Cobalt Teal and Prussian Blue, Yellow Ochre and Burnt Umber, Quinacridone Gold and Green Gold watercolor to try to recreate the wonderful feeling of being on our recent little “rum-away” to Punta Cana.

“Landscapes” are a challenge to me.  After a couple of attempts at this first one, I decided to just splash these colors into an abstract.

Punta Cana Ocean Abstract Watercolor 10x14

Punta Cana Ocean Abstract Watercolor 10×14

I then tried turning my 10×14 portrait page to landscape and creating a scene with a few trees recalling how we discussed how amazing that some of them were still alive bending and swaying in the breeze.  There was one like the one below right in front of  “our spot on the beach” where lots of people stopped to lean on and pose for photos.

Punta Cana Ocean Beach Palm Trees Watercolor 10x14

Punta Cana Ocean Beach Palm Trees Watercolor 10×14

All of these paintings were done on 10 x 14″ sheets of Arches 300 lb cold pressed watercolor paper.

Hoping they help you to “feel” the ocean breeze!

Cheers & Hugs,

Fresh Poppy Seed Vinaigrette Cole Slaw

Fresh Poppyseed Viniagrette Cole Slaw

If you are looking for a fresh, bright, colorful, crunchy salad, I hope you will give my favorite version of cabbage slaw or cole slaw a try.

I so prefer a bright, light vinaigrette on my cole slaw to the heavier mayonnaise-based version.  How about you?

Fresh Poppyseed Viniagrette Cole Slaw 2

This salad goes well with so many Spring and Summertime meals (and if you live in or near Pittsburgh like me – you can even use it as as an addition to your actual cheese steak or burger like our famous Primanti’s Brothers does!)

I made this last night as our salad with a kielbasa potato skillet hash and steamed broccoli, and we all had seconds!

Here’s my recipe if you’d like to give it a try.

Fresh Poppy Seed Vinaigrette Cole Slaw

Ingredients:Fresh Poppyseed Viniagrette Cole Slaw 2

  • 4 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 3 Tbsp. white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tsp. poppy seeds
  • 1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/2  tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. hot pepper sauce
  • 1/2 large head or 1 small head (approx. 4 cups) shredded green cabbage
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 2 stalks of celery,  minced
  • 2 green onions, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup diced sweet red, yellow, or orange peppers

Whisk vinegar,  oil, sugar, dry mustard, poppy seeds, black pepper, salt, and hot pepper sauce in a bowl, stirring until sugar has dissolved.

Mix cabbage and vegetables in a large salad bowl and pour dressing over slaw. Stir to coat. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.


Cheers & Hugs,

Very Variegated Violet

Purple violet watercolor tulips

Who knew shades of violet could vary so greatly?!

Before we went away on vacation last week, I had some fun playing with purple in this super loose vase of violet tulips.   I have done tulips in shades of reds and oranges  in this style, but was excited to try purple.

I decided to mix Winsor Violet (WN*) and Quinacridone Violet (MG**) – two VERY different violets –  and touch in some Quinacridone Gold (WN), because I always so love how it moves!

I used Green Gold (WN) for the foliage and a touch of Cobalt Teal (MG) for drama.  I shook it, and I splashed on it.

This large 10 x 13 in. painting is done on 300 lb. Arches Cold Press Paper.

I wasn’t sure if I liked it when I finished it, so I just set it aside.

I don’t know whether it is the “curing” of the paint or the “stepping away” that changes a painting so often, but…. when I came home after a week away and looked at it again, I decided I rather liked it.

It’s loose.

It’s kind of wild.

It’s unique and distinctive and venturesome.

It’s Very Variegated Violet!

Cheers & Hugs,

*WN – Winsor Newton Professional Grade Watercolor Paint
**MG – M. Graham Watercolor Paint

What a difference a day makes


Last week Hubby and I went on a little week-long vacation to paradise.   (And it’s not a vacation to the beach unless I take a toe picture)

Away from a week of rain and unseasonably cold weather in Mars to a week of sunshine and warmth and sand and sea at a lovely resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.  (And yep – this is what my hair looked like the entire week- curly and blowing in the sea breeze …  I gave up trying to do anything with it after about two days.)


Riu Palace Bavaro was a lovely treat.  (The pool basically flowed toward the beach and into the ocean like magical liquid.)


The colors of turquoise and teal and blue and green against the white sand might be the most beautiful I have ever seen.  (I can’t wait to find time to try to paint them!)


We found the most perfect spot on the beach that was on a bit of a perch under a few palm trees where the breeze made even 84 degrees feel cool and comfy.  (And our little flamingo clips from our daughter-in-law before we left held our towels on the chaise lounges and made it easy for us to find our “saved” seats.)


My view looking UP…



It was fun to come back to the room each day to see what the staff had created out of bath towels (and fresh flowers ever day!)


And the food was so magnificent!  (some healthy…)


(and some just delicious!)

PC 4

If we walked far enough down the beach, we found some fun little shops (that seemed to just continue right into the ocean.)

PC 3

We ventured away from the resort for a couple of excursions.


We loved the Outback Safari Adventure with Angel as our funny, informative, and engaging tour guide and Leo as our amazing driver who took us through tiny villages (this was an elementary school)


and up into the hills of the “real” Dominican Republic to experience the culture.

We toured a home.  (the natives love colorful homes)


The main part of the house had a living room (shown below), two bedrooms – one for the parents and the other for the five children, and a storage room.  (bathrooms are outside of the house)


Of course I was interested in the kitchen.  (It was a separate building in this home)


This family grew coffee and cacao and made their own coffee and cocoa butter (which I bought some of).  This is how chocolate begins…


We also got to see a gentleman who hand rolled cigars as his profession for the past 30+ years (bought some of these for my boss).


We saw beautiful flora  (bird of paradise plant below)


and fauna (I think this Peacock is the REAL bird of paradise!)


and experienced some of the natives and other creatures… (Hubby is a brave one – eh?!  Brave or CRAZY…. or possibly full of rum! wink!)


As if the snakes weren’t enough…. Yes – that is a TARANTULA on this man’s FACE!

We ended this tour with a visit to a beach that was NOT occupied by resorts and where the natives hung out.  (It reminded us a bit of Hawaii)


Another excursion took us out on a party catamaran boat which began with snorkeling in a small spot off shore with sting rays and nurse sharks!  (this time I was even brave!)

and ended with (more) rum and music and laughing (and extremely bad hair – thank goodness for this hat!).


There are more stories…   but some things that happen in Punta Cana – need to stay in Punta Cana!  (or only be told in person… 🙂 )

It was an amazing week and wonderful vacation, but there really is no place like home.  (even though we left at noon in 84 degrees F sunshine and arrived late afternoon to 44 degrees F and SNOW showers in Mars!)

It was especially wonderful to come home to celebrate a belated Mother’s Day with Jake and Nick and Colleen who made a lovely Sunday brunch for us, brought plants and flowers (in real life AND in a surprise Debi Riley painting!)

debi riley painting

What a difference a day makes (or seven!)

Cheers & Hugs,



Eva’s First Birthday

Eva Birthday 1 Card

Some of you might remember little Eva from some photos I shared several months ago.

Well – time sure does fly, and Eva just turned ONE!

Eva’s Aunt Liz asked if I would make a special card for her sweet little niece’s first birthday.  The request included incorporating an elephant, so Eva’s baby elephant is glammed up a bit with a purple velvet bow and a tiny pearl.

I had so much fun drawing and painting this card for an exceptional little princess.

Wishing you a day and year ahead as special as you little Eva!

Cheers & Hugs,


Hanging Out: A Charlie Guest Post

charlie and his stick

Are you looking at me?

What……Don’t you like to roll on your back and chew on sticks in the warm, soft Spring grass?

I LOVE Spring!

I forgot how wonderful it is to hang out in the yard with the birds and squirrels and rabbits and chipmunks and deer.  There is so much going on, I can hardly believe how much time I spent sleeping through winter!

There are so many sticks to chew, so many things to smell and taste and chase.

And there is so much room to ZOOOOOM!  I sometimes just start running – in circles or straight lines – whatever suits my fancy – but I love to RUN…. as fast as I can… and make my ears flap and my eyes squint from the sheer force of the wind!

Running, rolling, smelling, tasting, chewing, zooming…. it’s all in a day’s work – hanging out.  A dog’s life.  My life.  There’s nothing like a dog’s life in Spring.

Jealous?  Sorry!  But don’t be…..take some time to hang out outside yourself… even for a little bit.  I bet you’ll want to thank me.  (doggie wink)

Woofs & Wags,

PS  My “assistant” is on vacation, so if I don’t respond right away – just know I’m hanging out until she returns.