Hot Pasta in 5 Minutes Flat Recipe

Delicious Husband-Unit Approved Pasta in 5 minutes flat!
Vegetarian, Vegan (depending on your choice of pasta and pasta sauce).
On my quest to make warm hearty and healthy meals while out in our RV I have found my Instant Pot to be a universal solution at home so figured it would be just as easy and it is.
This RV trip happened to be our first on Full Hook Ups! I feel like I’m staying at the Bellagio with the freedom of power and water. It is also crisp and cold (perfect weather for the Ohio State Buckeyes to play the Michigan Wolverines) with a giant storm cell on its way. Goodie gumdrops!
Optional: picked up two baguettes at Sprouts and our daughter got us a bottle of Bogle and the fixings for a green salad (lettuce, some of the peppers, carrots, tomatoes).

You’ll need:
Instant Pot pressure cooker

1 3/4 cups of water

2T water

1 small jar (12 oz) of marinara or pasta sauce (I will be experimenting from complete scratch later)

1 diced red bell pepper

1 diced yellow bell pepper

1 cup chopped broccoli

1 onion diced

1t black pepper

1t oregano

1T red pepper flakes

5 garlic bulbs chopped small

1 lb of dry pasta

1 bottle of red wine

1 need to warm-up bread

Preheat your oven for your bread.
Place 2T of water in IP and add onion and garlic until soft. Add marinara sauce and the rest of ingredients EXCEPT dry pasta. Stir well making sure everything gets submerged.
Break pasta into small sticks (half way crack or thirds work, depending on your IP size) and add to mix. Stir so the sticks are broken apart, not clumped up.
Now would be a good time to place bread in oven.
Manual setting for 5 minutes. Close lid, check the pressure valve to make sure it is in the closed setting.
Let the pressure release on its own.
Open lid and VOILA!
Stir and serve it up.

Note: I believe adding less water and more sauce would be better.  Randy prefers less sauce so I catered to his wishes.
Great news! Get $50 off your very own InstantPot by using Coupon Code 805BC at checkout. You need to buy from Instant Pot’s website directly. GO THERE NOW CLICK HERE


How To Travel With A Cat


Captain Dad and First Mate Piper

She sat staring at us sitting by the fire pit, ticked.
Taking your cat on the road with you can be done!

We rescued Piper from our local no-kill shelter (Ventura County Animal Services) after I lost my cat to a hungry coyote. In my life I’ve had so many cats, starting with Poncho, then Bach, Patty Mayonaise, Buster and Arya.  Not one of my cats has had the same personality.  In hindsight, they were all rescue cats!

Because cat has its own personality it is absolutely a factor as to whether or not your cat will dig riding in the car.  Patty Mayonaise would have sliced my eyes out within 2 seconds.  Buster would have just hung out in the back with the dogs, Arya wouldn’t have tolerated confinement and dogs.  So, you have to be realistic in your demands of your pet.



We are at the start of including her in our family adventures.

So far, so good!

We got this amazing carry case from bergan while visiting Portland Oregon. It gives her enough hiding space but also allows her to peek out while in it. Now she goes into it willingly on her own. We leave it open in our house and she oftentimes just finds it to relax in.

While driving we have the windows up 90% of the way because we’re not sure she won’t get sucked out! The truck has enormous windows for both dogs and the cat to get a great view.

Dad went to talk to a man about a horse, Piper found the warm dash.

Piper wanders all over the truck but loves our laps the most.

No complaints from the backseat on our family road trips…ever!
After we begin the trip and get comfortably rolling we unzip the case and let her roam. I have a blanket in my lap for her to stand or relax on. She normally chooses the center console or our laps. She never sits still and will pop her head up to see where we are (not sure what triggers that).
Overall we are taking small steps toward her independence (like our dogs) on travel.

Here are the few factors to consider:

  • Transport to and from car in a pet travel carrier. Leave it out for your cat to sniff and hide in during the time you are not traveling.
  • Cat box. We bring the cat box from home because she is comfortable with it. We only bring her with us while traveling with the RV trailer. You need to have a solution for your cat to go potty.
  • Short trips. Start off just driving around the block. Cats are super sensitive to sounds so don’t play the radio blasting (or at all) or play calming music.
  • Once your cat seems less nervous on the trips (and with someone else in the car) open the carrying case and let them exit on their own. Never open the door with your cat roaming free.
  • Cat Harness. We have a harness we leave on her full time during the day. We take her out on walks and that is getting better and better. She is getting comfortable being on a lead as The place you take a walk at should be calm. We tried the ocean and the crashing waves freaked her out.
  • Food and water. In our little trailer we try to feed her separately from the dogs. She still gets irritated when they walk on her planet and gives a hiss and sometimes a little swat. We have a community water bowl and all three of them sip from it no problem.

With a little practice off and on we are grooming Piper to relax while riding in the truck as well at a campsite to roam on her leash and check out the planet too!

She still prefers to sleep most of the day and roam the trailer during the night (sometimes landing on my feet…which I love!)

Good luck.

Black Beans From Scratch Recipe

finished-product-black-beansCurrently cans of beans run 4 for $5 to .99 each.  EXPENSIVE and the quality is not the greatest.  I’ve tried many brands, probably every brand available at Whole Foods, Lassen’s Sprouts, Pavillion’s, Vons and Stater Bros.

I have begun the quest to make my own black beans (stove top) and failed about 4 or 5 times over the past 8 years.  They were ALWAYS crunchy.  We wasted so much time and money (and anticipation)!

The Instant Pot Pressure Cooker has saved the day for me and I am happy to present a recipe to make some seriously DELICIOUS black beans in 40 minutes.

This is a variation of a few recipes I read online and my many failures.

The flavor of these beans: salty and savory.

Set these items out before you begin.


  • a Pressure Cooker like Instant Pot
  • 2 cups Dry beans (preferably organic) rinsed and duds/dirt picked out
  • 8 cups veggie stock
  • 1 yellow onion cut in half (take off outer shell)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1t cumin
  • 1t sea salt
  • 1 orange cut in half


  1. Place all ingredients in Instant Pot.
  2. Set on HIGH.
  3. Cook for 40 minutes.
  4. Let is release on its own for the best results.
  5. Open lid according to instruction and serve up!



Out Of Your Comfort Zone

My Aunt LOVES decorating with little knickknacks at Christmas.

The holidays are here.  We are pushed out of our normal routines and “comfort” zones and for some it causes great strain on their lives.

2017 is just around the corner!  You just need to survive this small section of time.  If you are gutting it out try this simple approach which has worked for us: 

Ask yourself…WILL “IT” (the thing you are contemplating) MATTER IN 5 OR 10 YEARS?

  • Take the HIGH ROAD.
  • Chin up and keep smiling.
  • Don’t burn bridges.
  • Stay true to your word.
  • Keep your opinions to yourself.
  • Do your best to set an good example as a human being.
  • Don’t give gifts you cannot afford and definitely don’t allow someone’s opinion of that choice bring you down.
  • EXERCISE!  Get your body MOVING.  Break a sweat. Push yourself out of your comfort zone.
  • Rescue an animal from a shelter or official rescue.

OK, that last one is MAYBE not so easy for everyone.   Personally I have discovered adding animals to my life has calmed me down.  They appreciate EVERYTHING good about you – even the little things that other humans look past.


First things first: show up.  Don’t blow off the one hour of time for YOU.  When you are hesitating or coming up with really really good excuses…come to camp (or go to your gym, class, workout…).

In our program we use the most positive encouragement we can find to get you to remember WHY you showed up.  It wasn’t to jaw jack or just earn a credit (we’re pretty sure).

Borg Scale of Exertion.

Without removing the fun socializing at camp, WORK HARDER and DO MORE! 

Go out for a coffee to really catch up at camp or your workout. 

You should be working at a level that would make conversation very difficult.  The Borg Scale will help you gauge yourself.  We want you at 9 or 10 for 85% of the class at least.

Together we will beat the stress of the holiday period and make progress toward a healthier and better quality of life. 

That’s just a fact no one can argue with.

See you out on the planet soon!

Prince Or Scientology

prince-sheila-e-concert-2-jan-1985PRINCE        OR                 S  C  I  E  N  T  O  L  O  G  Y
The choice is obvious when you are 17 years old.

I almost got to see Prince in concert in 1985.

I had floor seats!!  What!?!  Riverport Coliseum!?

I would have been, let’s see, 17 years old.  

Likely I would have  gone to this concert with my friend Monika and her sister Linda.  

Monika and I spent hours dancing in her living room (instead of doing our homework) with her Border Collies to 1999.  I think we played that album 100 times a day, no joke.

That’s when the date 1999 was impossibly in the future.  That would be in 14 more years.

sea-org-ribbon-1987INSTEAD, I was locked up behind a gun toting guarded barbed wire fence Serving Mankind at a secret compound near H  e  m  e  t, CA

Mentally and physically forced to work from 9:00am until 11:00pm, sometimes more.

They say, “you don’t know what you don’t know”.  I guess the way you find out what you didn’t know is by staying alive and meeting people your age from all over the world.  

Having done that for the last 30+ years I realize just how much I missed.

Personally I know what I saw and did within the Church of Scient ology’s management group called The Sea Organization.

Now that I am a mother, one of the the worst memories would be a grown married father molesting and having sex with an underage girl.   I think they are both still members…he should be in JAIL.  It was kept extremely under wraps during a Religious Freedom Crusade I attended in Portland Oregon in 1986 for so many reasons – I felt they were (at the time) justified.  I know the girl.  She was my friend, close friend.  The molester worked for Author Services, Inc.

Today, 2016, the current promotion and marketing (they still send me literature, letters, books, pamphlets and the like to entice me to donate money to their latest endeavor to help save mankind) is packed full of bold faced lies.

I’ll have to tell you more about that someday.

Meanwhile, instead of getting to see Prince in concert with Sheila E (CAN YOU IMAGINE!?!) I was helping Save Mankind (as you can see on my ribbon) at a secret base in the middle of the desert of California earning pretty ribbons.

Oh, and they have almost $40,000 of my money they refuse to give back to me (another story of insanity).  I guess I’ll need an attorney to help me on that because in order to get my money I have to go into their Church and fill in forms and follow their process but they have apparently declared me a Supressive Person which means I’m forbidden from going into their Churches or talking to any of their members).

Moral of my post today:  To be happy, don’t join or support the Church of Scientology.  It is not what THEY say it is.  It hurt me and my family.  Pain that cannot be undone.   Loss that they could care less they created.

PS: I did get to see Prince eventually in Los Angeles at a “rave-style” club.  A transformed warehouse I’d guess in the early 90’s.  Phallic was the theme. Drinks were flowing and dancing was going!  I had a blast!!


Being judged is FUN!

BEING JUDGED IS FUN! Said no one ever.

Last night was our annual financial meeting.  

A room of casual millionaires listening to a great man give  his point of view on the market and the future. 

This Great Man has been correct every single year we’ve been attending this dinner and that’s why I never ever want to miss what he has to say.  I’ll let you be the judge of my financial status (which I’m pretty sure you have already done…because that behavior seems to be ‘natural’ these days doesn’t it?).

Thankfully, The Great Man happens to be a dear friend of my husband.  He has taken us through the deepest saddest and toughest times of our lives as husband and wife.  You would like him because he is real, honest and sincerely cares.  

He knows I’m vegan and asked my husband if I’d like a vegan meal as opposed to the giant italian style dinner they normally serve.  Mistakenly, my husband said YES.  For the record I’d NEVER EVER want to be accommodated for my diet or health choices.  I’m a big girl and I’d be just fine sipping a glass of red wine and passing up the food.  I was there to hear The Great Man speak anyway.

Husband Unit informs me that there will be a vegan dinner for me.  I got pissed instantly.  

“No, please tell him no thank you.  I’ll be fine.” I calmly reply via text.  Meanwhile I think I got an ulcer at the thought of being cared for “specially”.  

“Too late. I’m not telling him no.”  

“OK” I shot back, irritated.

Recently I’ve been through the Super Wash of Criticism and Being Judged.  It’s been painful and my stomach is in knots trying to navigate past it.  People I thought were my allies shoved knives in my back quietly. Why?  Why? Why? I repeated to myself. 

In a casual conversation I discovered what I’d been through is nothing new to other Small Business Owners.  It seems all business owners have customers with “good ideas”, “great advice”, “you should”s and “you shouldn’t”s to give you.  

When you are a Small Business you listen.  Sometimes the criticism is hurtful but you still listen with an open mind.  “Never take it personally” my Chiropractor reminds me pretty much EVERY visit.  “You can’t take it personal.” “It’s business, don’t let it get to you.”  Well that’s not who I am now is it?  I’ll save that for another post.

Back to my dilemma at the Millionaire Meeting…

We took a spot at the second to the furthest round table from the presentation screen.  I was a little concerned about being able to see and hear.  We were six tables back, about 40 yards maybe. The table was supposed to seat 8, but it was set for 10.  Not much elbow room.  I was happy for The Great Man because I’ve watched his business expand and the men and women (mostly in their 60’s and above) arrive excitedly to hear him speak.  People were there on their own initiative and it was PACKED.

The first speaker, Mr. Surfer (names changed to protect their identities by the way), started us off.  I watched intently and tried to hear him.  The acoustics were tough and people were still arriving so I didn’t catch much of what he was saying.   

I began to discover the table in front of us had two individuals that were there for the free food with zero interest in what was happening at the front.  They carried on talking over Mr. Surfer and even cracking jokes.  BUMMER. I felt it was just plain disrespectful too.

I cupped my hands to my ears to hear better.  It worked.

Mr. Surfer finished his presentation and turned it over to The Great Man.  

I leaned in and pushed my cupped hands closer to my head and ears.

The food began to be served while all of this was happening.  Clanking spoons on Family-Style size trays of food, people whispering to pass things, glasses clinking and REALLY old people trying to QUIETLY ASKING TO HAVE THE SALAD PASSED.  This was going to be tough so I mentally prepared myself to not get my knickers in a knot.

I sipped my red wine slowly then cupped my ears again.

The Great Man had the front of the room mesmerized.  No one was passing food or talking.  What he was saying was interesting AND important.  

The table behind me seemed to be filled with all men in snazzy suits.  One man in particular had pin stripes on.  Reminded me of my days in the big Corporate World: The Suits.   These were the “Important Men” in the room.  The were clean shaven and looked sharp.  

They also completely forgot they were in a meeting with The Great Man speaking and were talking amongst themselves even chuckling and laughing at their own conversations.  I turned to look, unable to hear The Great Man, hoping to give them a hint that it was tough to hear.  

That’s when Philip, the BMOC of the Dining Hall arrived.  He was standing behind my left shoulder about one foot.  “HELLO LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, I UNDERSTAND THERE IS ONE OF YOU HERE THAT HAS REQUIRED A VEGAN MEAL!?” he f’ing thunders loudly.

I winced and turned to face him – my neck was red hot and I was embarrassed.  Exactly what I was afraid was going to happen was happening. I was very sure he did that on purpose but I took a breath and quietly said, forcing him to kneel down to hear me, “Would you not make a spectacle of me please?  Maybe bring it down in volume a few notches?”

“OH, SORRY ABOUT THAT.  I SEEM TO TALK LOUD ALL THE TIME.  I’LL BE SENDING OUR COOK OUT TO DISCUSS THE MENU OPTIONS FOR YOU TONIGHT, OKAY!?!?” he was 1 decibel quieter and 20 decibels higher in condescending tone.

I turned to my husband, my stomach was in knots, and looked him in the eyes visibly upset.  He got the message and chuckled leaning over to the person sitting next to him mumbling something about “oh man I’m gonna be sleeping on the couch tonight.”

I turned back to Philip and said, again quietly, “Look, I would prefer to not have any special treatment.”


I took a deep breath and thanked him very much.  He went away.  THANK GOD.

The giant bowls and plates of Chicken Parmesan started to come out along with the Salmon and Spinach.  I kept myself busy helping the nice millionaire Janice next to me and her 97 year old father Spencer (he looked like Spencer Tracy to me) who was so nice as well.  Side note: neither of them could hear anything as well…she repeatedly asked me what The Great Man had just said and was scribbling notes and clarifying.  I did my best to help but The Suits had brought it up a notch and were a little louder.

Waiters were buzzing around being super helpful to everyone.  These young men (I did not see any women) were on-point!  Clearing the tables as fast as a dish was empty, filling glasses, keeping the booze flowing…great team.  

Philip arrived with Eduardo, The Chef.  “HELLO AGAIN.  I HAVE THE CHEF EDUARDO HERE FOR YOU TO DISCUSS HOW WE CAN ACCOMMODATE YOU TONIGHT.”  They were both wearing name tags.  I can read.

I hear Husband Unit groan behind me…and next I hear a soft bit of laughter between him and his buddy in the next seat.

Eduardo squats down next to me on my left (my husband is seated on my right).

He’s calm and quiet and I tried to explain that I didn’t want ANY of this special treatment.  He stared at me blankly.  

I told him I was just fine with everything and he did not need to do a thing for me and thanked him profusely for the gesture.  

“So you are OK with the salad?”  

Yes, I assure him quietly.  I’m really OK.  

“Can you tell me what your food allergies are?  I can make something for you, really no problem.” he whispers back.  


 “I’d prefer not to eat dairy or meat.”  

“OK no problem.  I can make something for you.  We’ll bring you a salmon with no butter on it.”

I now stare at him blankly but say, “it’s OK.  I’ll just have this salad you’ve prepared here.”

“But the salad has blue cheese on it.”  

“I can handle taking the cheese off.  Seriously, no problem.”

“OK you can eat the calamari too.  It is no butter in the batter. (sic)”

“Is it possible to get just vegetables and maybe some light pasta.”

“Yes!  Yes I have colorful squash and broccoli and carrot.”

“Perfect – thank you so much.  And please, just a child size.  I don’t eat much.” and I show him with both of my hands how much I meant.  I felt this was necessary because of the size of the dishes being served around me were feeding 8-10 people.  This place is very generous in their servings.

The Chef went away…quietly.  I didn’t realize I was holding my breath until I let it out slowly.

Suddenly the calm was broken, “DID YOU GET EVERYTHING YOU NEEDED FOR YOUR SPECIAL MEAL?” boomed Philip standing above my left shoulder but speaking to the entire table (and The Suits as well it seemed).

I’d watched Philip moving around the room at other tables.

His excuse for talking loudly to me “because he always does” was pure bullshit.  He was expressly quiet at every single other table.  

My gut was right: he was judging me and going to make me pay.

Him and all of The Suits.

At this point I wondered if this was a joke.  When my husband and I have our patience taken to the edge we both look around to see if we’re on an episode of “Boiling Point” or the like.

Nope, no cameras.  Just  The Suits having a great time, Philip making a spectacle of me and The Great Man yammering at the front of the room with a slide on the screen and a laser pointer bouncing all around.

I whispered to Husband Unit, “I’m going to stand at the front so I can hear a little better.”  I scooted my chair back slowly so I wouldn’t knock over my neighbor then inconspicuously moved to the front of the room.


The Great Man’s voice was clear.  I wish I’d brought my chair to just sit and hear him.  

I stayed up there for about 15 minutes leaning against the wall.  It was time to go back to my seat and disconnect from the best lecturer I’d heard in a decade.

As I walked toward the back I noticed, again, the Millionaires at the front tables all craning to not miss one word The Great Man was saying.  

Sitting back down, Philip arrives with my meal.  My “please keep it small” request was DENIED!  The two-foot long oblong PLATTER was set down after space was made on either side of my space (remember, room for 8 yet set for 10..NO SPACE FOR THIS GIANT PLATTER).

Will this unspoken torture end soon?  

Now I felt obligated to eat.  Philip did not say a thing as he walked away (THANK YOU BABY JESUS).

The Suits yammered on in their own world, I poked my fork into my vegetables.  My stomach was twisted in knots at this point and I was not hungry at all.  AT ALL.  

It doesn’t really matter whether or not the food was good.

What mattered to me was how gracious The Great Man had been to offer.  I ate.  Slowly.  

When I was full I pushed my trough toward the center of the table hoping one of those On Point Waiters would grab it…and they did!  

I listened as best I could to The Great Man finish his presentation.  He was talking about having a dream and sticking to THAT.  Letting him help all of us accomplish THAT DREAM.  

A photo of me and one of my dreams popped up on the screen.  My stomach dropped.  I looked around nervously hoping the next slide would hurry up!  

Time stood still and that slide stayed up there.

I felt my hearing go, pretty sure a natural response in a state of panic.  

I had NO WHERE to run and prayed NO ONE would match my face to the Vegan Spectacle that anyone with decent hearing experienced.

Click.   The next slide.  

I exhaled.

Philip:  shame on you for your condescending behavior.  

Husband Unit: please never ever accept “special treatment for my vegan choices” on my behalf.  Ask me.  Chances are I’m going to go with the flow.

To Anyone Bothered By My Personal Or Business Choices And Willing To Act or React On Them:  Am I your only target?  Think about it for a second.

Please remember and realize: I do not treat anyone this way.   When you treat me this way you are making my life harder than it already is.  You have no idea.  Please be kind or kinder.

 In closing, karma.


PS: If you would like to meet The Great Man, PM me. 

“Epic” Fairy Tale Pumpkin Smoothie

Tastes like Pumpkin Pie!  Seriously!

1 Serving

100% Delicious

We grew 33 Fairy Tale pumpkins this year. The largest one weighed in at 47 lbs. No joke.
Now I’m making everything pumpkin.
This smoothie is delicious. It tasted like pumpkin pie.

What you need 

I get mine at Lassen's in Simi Valley.  They have to order it from another store, so plan accordingly.

  • Blender or similar
  • Pint Glass
  • 1 Scoop Epic Vanilla Protein Powder
  • 1 Cup Almond Milk
  • 10 Ice Cubes
  • 2/3 Cups Pumpkin Purée (fresh baked, steamed or pressure cooked is best)
  • 5 Dates (pitted)
  • 1T nut butter
  • 1T Maple Syrup
  • 1T Pumpkin Spice OR
  • 1/2t Penzy’s Cinnamon
  • 1/4t Organic Ginger powdered
  • 1/4t Nutmeg

I build my shakes in a Blendtec in this order on purpose. I’ve learned how to avoid chunkier and powder puffs. The first two steps are critical in my opinion.

The simple steps are...

  2. Combine milk and ice cubes in your pint glass (or serving glass). It should reach 75% full. If it doesn’t, add ice if you like it thicker or almond milk if you like it less thick.
  3. Pour cubes and milk into blender.
  4. Protein Powder
  5. Spices (remember it is EITHER / OR on the two suggestions)
  6. Nut Butter
  7. Pumpkin purée
  8. Maple syrup
  9. Put lid tightly on blender and BLEND on “smoothie” level. A Blendtec increases and reduces the blade spin over about 30 seconds. After one blend process, remove lid.
  10. 8) Chop dates and add (this is for sweetness and thickness…I also love getting the jelly bellies at the end and during drinking my shakes).
  11. Put lid back on tightly. Blend again on smoothie setting or until you don’t hear stuff bumping into the blades.
  12. Serve it up!!