The BEST spaghetti sauce ever!

I have a horrible confession to make – up until last year I always bought Ragu bottled pasta sauce, I would always add a little of this and a little of that and cook it on low for hours until it tasted “just right” but it was never all mine.

Barry had been hounding me for years to make it from scratch, “you’re a great cook, you can do it, c’mon honey”.  I have to admit it did always bug me that while I was striving to get away completely from processed food I would still buy Ragu in bulk.

I FINALLY gave homemade sauce a try and it was a smash hit.  Of course I never make it the same way twice and actually writing a recipe seems weird but here it goes.


1 pound ground beef or turkey (I use beef)

1 pound Italian sausage, sweet or spicy

1-2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Some olive oil depending on how lean the meat is

4-6 garlic cloves, minced

1 large chopped onion

4 cans tomato sauce – 15 ounce

2 cans of tomato paste – 6 ounce

1 large can of diced tomatoes – 28 ounce or 2 – 15 ounce cans

2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste

2 teaspoons basil

1 tablespoon oregano

2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

1 tablespoon brown sugar

Red wine – to add to, drink while preparing or to drink with dinner

Brown Italian sausage and ground beef together. Add onions. Drain if needed. Add the rest of the stuff and simmer on low for a long time. You can add either water or wine depending on your preference for the sauce. I’ve found if I add a lid or cook in the crock-pot I don’t need to add water. Enjoy over your favorite pasta or if eating low carb zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash and bask in the compliments.

This will make a ton, at least two meals but probably 3 depending on how many people your feeding.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.


Oh crap, it’s a fire…6 years ago today


A lot of things go through my mind when I think back to Thursday November 13, 2008.  Excitement, annoyance, fear, disbelief, relief and thankfulness.  I woke up excited, Barry and I were going to San Francisco the next day, we had tickets to see the Giants on Saturday, it was my first NFL game and they were Suite tickets so I didn’t have to freeze.  We planned to stay for the weekend.  We had a child sitter AND a dog sitter.  I had a ton of things to do before we left, (shop for an appropriately colored outfit, wash the dog for the dog sitter, clean the house and I still had work that day).

I left work about 3pm, grabbed Brandon and headed to the mall.  Success!!  I found clothes that fit, were cute and on clearance – a triple bonus!!  We jammed home, I changed into my cleaning clothes, short shorts and a nasty, fabric boogered tank that saw it’s best days long ago.  I started dinner and began cleaning.  It was HOT and windy that day, getting hotter as the day wore on.  The dog loved his bath that day, it was a refreshing change from the weather.

It was getting along into the evening, dark because of the time change the week before.  I was in the bedroom and Barry calls for me to get the binoculars.  I was grumbling a little that he couldn’t come in and get them himself, we were about equal distance to them. But I grabbed them and headed outside to see what was going on.  Barry was focusing on an orange light coming from across the hills, it was about 1/2 mile as the crow flies.  He tells me to call 911 quick, it’s a fire.  Oh crap!  It’s dry, hot and windy!  Perfect conditions for a firestorm.  SERIOUSLY!?!  ou have got to be kidding?!?!

A few minutes later I get a panicked call from my daughter, she was at dinner at the Santa Barbara Harbor1116-Fire-AF-350. This was what she saw.  “Mom, there’s a fire! I’m coming home!”.  I wouldn’t let her come back to the house, I’m glad she listened for a change.  Living back in the foothills we knew it was a dangerous situation and I didn’t want her anywhere near the narrow, congested roads with panicked residents trying to get home and grab their “stuff’ and pets, people trying to evacuate their horses, all the idiots who just went up to “look”.  I suppose there were fire trucks and police somewhere in the mix but we never saw them.  Photo by Art Fisher /

Anyway, that’s an old story and you can read the rest on my old blog.

So I’m all about closing circles and I’m fascinated when life moves in a cyclical fashion.  I realized last week that the TeaFire anniversary was going to fall on a Thursday this year.  I realized last night that we have tickets to a football game this Saturday.  I wonder if there a sub conscience meaning to all this or it’s just life AND football season coming together. Either way it’s pretty wild.

It’s crazy how life takes all these twists and turns and somehow they still turn out ok.  I thank God for our safety that night, so much could have gone wrong.  Looking back the fire isn’t a sad event, it’s a time to give thanks and remember the blessing we have.  Is it a coincidence that this happened right before Thanksgiving?  I think not.

Dad’s Green Chili

Way back in 2004 (10 years!!!),  I began following Bill Philips and Body for Life.  I was learning that healthy didn’t need to mean nasty and dry and boring.  This amazing recipe, from the Eating for Life Cookbook, is a family favorite and perfect for the cool days of fall and winter.  Barry doesn’t like hominy so I always separate the soup base prior to adding the hominy and add pinto beans instead.

Dad’s Green Chili

  • 8 c chicken broth
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 lbs chicken breast
  • 2 packages Knorr roasted chicken gravy mix
  • 21 ounces mild green diced green chili
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 c fresh cilantro chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 jalapenos seeded and chopped
  • 28 oz drained white hominy
  • Flour tortillas
  • 1 tomato diced
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Directions:  In a large pot combine broth, chicken and onion. Heat to boiling reduce to low and simmer 20 minutes or until  chicken is done. Remove chicken to cool. Use whisk to blend gravy mix into broth. Add chili, garlic, cilantro, cumin, jalapenos and hominy. Bring to a boil over med. Heat then reduce heat to low. Shred the chicken, add back to broth, cover and simmer for 40 minutes. Serve with tomato, sour cream and flour tortillas if desired.

My Grandpa. He was a quirky little guy.

And I miss him SO mu10177524_757317707620753_1832159969_nch.  His birthday is coming up soon and I’ve been thinking a lot about him.  He was a special man, he loved God and his family.  This man was NEVER still, in fact the day he had a stroke he was out for a walk.  Someone found him laying in the middle of the road.   Most times you could find him riding his bike with the basket in the front, dumpster diving for cans or picking them up off the side of the road, (I was so embarrassed!!!)

Grandpa was a trooper.  When I was very small, maybe 2 or 3, he was in a horrible accident that left 2nd and 3rd degree burns over most of his body.  He was horribly scarred, his ears were burnt mostly off and I don’t think there was any skin left on his body that hadn’t been burned or used as donor tissue.  Apparently this was scary but I never knew him any other way, he was just MY Grandpa.

Growing up he was the only stable male figure I had.  He always wanted hugs and kisses, I always tried to get away, scrunch up my face and take it until he let go enough for me to wriggle away.  What I wouldn’t do for one more hug from Grandpa.  He always smelled like Campho Phenique and Prell. Looking back I guess the Campho Phenique  this helped soothe his skin and the Prell kept the little hair he had left in place.  These are smells that I still associate with safety and comfort.

Grandpa loved to eat but he had his funny quirks.  Vinegar on canned spinach, garlic salt on bok-choy and dessert ALWAYS.  I think he had dessert twice a day.  Thankfully Grandma was a great cook and an even better pie maker.

Grandpa was a man of God and rarely a day went by that he wasn’t volunteering somewhere.  If someone needed something fixed he was there, no questions asked.  And he could fix just about anything although I think it was sometimes with duct tape or WD-40 and he was the Jerry Rig king.

Today this song popped up on Facebook.  With tears streaming down my face I remembered all that he was to me and to my family.  My youngest son never met Grandpa Hamm, I found out I was pregnant the same day he had his stroke, he passed away within a few short weeks, never coming back home.  So when I hear this song I see my Grandpa triumphantly singing “Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,  How great Thou art”  as he enters Heaven’s Pearly Gates and into the the embrace of a loving God.  The incredible pain he must have always been in for over 25 years, finally relieved.

I miss you Gramps and will see you again one day.

Re-visiting Gratitude


It’s been a bit more of a challenge to come up with my daily gratitudes since my lay off notice came down last week.  A challenge, but not impossible (I did wake up this morning so I always have that to fall back on). I am nothing if not resilient so here is one for every day of the month plus an extra for good measure.

1) In the process of job searching and networking I’m re-connecting with people I haven’t spoken with in more time than I’d like.  It’s always a blessing getting in touch with old friends.

2) I switched my cell service over to Verizon last week, (yes I gave up the coveted AT&T Unlimited Data Plan – gasp).  Two days after I switched they came out with an offer of $150 credit for each new line transfered over. After some wrangling Verizon gave me the credit on the two lines I opened – YAY!!

3) Employment agreements – a small clause in mine has given me an additional 60 days notice. I credit this all to God, I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t supposed to have that particular agreement.

4) My Marine garden gnome – LOVE him.  He represents my son who is currently serving and back on US soil and also represents a commitment made and achieved.

5) My Precious – errr – I mean my iPhone 6 Plus.




A typo on my resume and other job search musings.

Seriously – a TYPO, it was an auto-correct typo but still a typo, one that makes the reader have to stop, hitch a bit and try to figure out what exactly I was saying.  Facepalm!!!  Same thing on the emailed cover letter – dumb, stupid typo, a word too many here or an incorrect tense there.  It’s enough to drive me crazy. Lesson learned – trying to update my resume AND create a witty and wonderful cover letter AND apply to more than 20 jobs in one day with customized cover letters is probably over-doing it.  I need to give my self a goal of say 7-10 really good contacts a day.  This will ensure accuracy on all items being sent out and not make me look like an idiot to the the wonderful companies I sent resumes to today.  Double ooofffff.

On a similar note, I decided to direct recruiters to my little blog.  Why?  Well I’m looking for a terrific employment experience, in my opinion this requires that the company get to know me a little bit just like I have the opportunity to know them through their website and various other web related searches.  I want the BEST match and if putting myself out there a little more brings the best match then I’m all for it.  A job isn’t a “job” to me,  I pour myself into the company I work for and the position I’m in.

And just for fun, here’s a picture of me at the Coast about month ago, (time does move FAST!).   I learned long ago that one

unnamednever visits the Oregon Coast without a jacket, a hoodie, ear protection, muck luck boots and gloves, especially in the summer.  This was a good day and I only needed a light coat.

Happy November, Happy Job Hunting

Irony at it’s best – on Monday morning I was gushing gratitude over my job. I LOVE it, love the company and love my boss.  I was notified at lunchtime that the department and my position were being eliminated.  What?!?!  I’m being laid off? NOOOOOOO!!!!!

I’m so bummed out, I really do love my job.  I’ve learned so much and feel like I’m not done yet.  We haven’t had nearly enough time to see our product launch through to completion and that really, really makes me feel like I’m only half finished.  But it is what it is I suppose.  I know my boss has been working diligently on our behalf to get more time.

So it’s back to job hunting I go, time to update the old resume and hit the road again.

My prayer is that I can work for another company that I’m just as passionate about, in a position I love for the best boss.  Oh and I’d really like to telecommute too🙂