Dina’s Favorite Pasta Salad

Did you know that we’re kinda weather wimps here in Oregon?  Well, I shouldn’t lump the whole state into that.  It’s us – the Portlanders – we’re the weather wimps.  We don’t like it too wet, too hot, too cold, or too dry.  What we like – for the most part – is sunny, no humidity, warm, lush, green, verdant, beautiful, breathtakingly blue skies, and a lovely place with an option for shade or direct sun.  That’s not asking for much, is it?

We’re having a little stretch of gloriously warm weather right now.  I’m chronically cold ever since I lost my weight.  Yep.  I’m the girl walking around in 90 degree weather sporting a cardigan.  I’m the one in the restaurant trying to discreetly ask the hostess where the warmest seat in the restaurant is – in the summer months!  Whatever!

Well – when it’s warm out, one of my favorite things to eat is a lovely pasta salad.  (One must not make the assumption that anyone else in the household would agree to consume this, however.  I’m on my own on this one!)  So, I thought – in honor of today’s lovely weather – I’d share my favorite pasta salad receipe that I threw together a few years ago.

Here you go:

1 pound Orzo
0.75 pound Italian Roast Beef (1/2 inch thick slice)
3/4 cup Grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup Shaved parmesan cheese
1 small Zucchini (peeled, sliced thinly)
1 – 7.5 oz jar Pickled baby corn
1/2 cup Pickled carrots
1/4 cup Pickled asparagus
1 small jar Marinated artichoke hearts
2 cups Fresh mushrooms, sliced
5 Green onions, sliced
1/3 cup Cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup Red wine vinegar
1/4 cup Basalmic vinegar
3/4 cup Pesto
1 large Avocado, diced
6 Small tomatoes, wedged



  1. Combine all prepared vegetables (omitting avocado and tomatoes) into a large mixing bowl. Add diced Italian Roast Beef. Toss together.
  2. Cook orzo according to directions. When done, drain – but DO NOT rinse. Toss the hot pasta with the vegetables and beef. (This will steam the vegetables a bit.)
  3. Quickly add in and toss the pesto, vinegars, and olive oil. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Cover and place in the refrigerator overnight.
  5. Shortly before serving, add in grated parmesan cheese and avocado. Once completely mixed through, garnish with tomato wedges (sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper), as well as the shaved parmesan cheese.


Spring is sprung!

This is probably just about as random a collection of photos as you’re gonna find, but it’s spring – and I was outdoors with the camera – and so – well, here you go!

BiL’s Farm Fresh Eggs has got itself an egg sign – and finally – a holder – and it even works! Woo Hoo!

The peas are looking like they may well give us something to snack on soon. I keep looking for a little pea pod to snap off and pop in my mouth – but we’re not there quite yet… soon, tho!

Is there anything more beautiful than Japanese Iris?

This is the new garden plot that John has laid out, tilled, and prepared. We got corn, yellow crookneck squash, and zucchini planted in it yesterday.

Do you have sons? Cause if you do – this next photo will make total sense. Look! One of the pear trees is armed!

The flower bed along the street (adjacent to the low fence at the front of the property) got planted yesterday, too. There will hopefully be lots of Shirley Poppies, nastursiums, and sunflower seeds of varying types.

There are now 30 tomato plants of different varieties planted in the main garden plot, thanks to my husband’s ever diligent efforts.

We love these trellises John put together for tomatoes. They are so easy to tie up (we use construction tape – it’s amazing, and cheap at Home Depot!), and they get lots of good sun and ventilation this way.

This is John’s stack of lumber for the chicken coop expansion project that he’s working on.

He’s removed the little run that was attached to the coop – that was the first step of the project, the demo. Now he’s going to frame out the new addition area, and floor it first.

Can you see them? Baby pears!

Hanging out in the yard with Pepper, admiring the planting John did yesterday.

Pepper, the wonder chicken dog at play!

Gosh I love this time of year! Is there anything better than hanging out in the yard with the one you love and planting some amazing stuff that will enrich your lives?

First Field Trip

We decided this afternoon that we would let the babies out into the big back yard this afternoon for their first foray into life without fences…

We were surprised that for the most part, the big girls just ignored them. Rooth being the most aggressive of the big girls – but she for the most part stayed out of the way of the babies – letting them get their first taste of the wider world.
Aren’t they cute?
Five of the babies are supposed to be Delawares. Four of them look very much like Delawares. This one (below) is all white, with the puffier cheek feathers, and has black legs. Not so much like the other Delawares! Mystery chick!

Here’s the buff minorca rooster (William is attempting to name him Paco – we’ll see if the rest of the family will agree with this name or not!) – only two buff minorcas, and one of them is a rooster, darn it all! We started with three, one just didn’t recover from shipping – the other two have fared well. But this means I’ll have my work cut out for me in a few weeks, looking for a new home for the boys who seem to be emerging in the flock.

Here’s one of the speckled sussex. They’re so cute and inquisitive and one of them is the first one out the door and the first to scope out a new treat offered.

This one is a blue andalusian – also a roo. Great. I wish we could keep the roos. But the one set of difficult neighbors makes that impossible, unfortunately. Even just this morning I heard the neighbor down the street’s rooster greeting the morning… sniff… wish we could have one – or as many as show up! 🙂

This is another one of the Delawares. Jessica has named her Pecky. She is BIG. She is inquisitive. She loves to try and peck at my rings, nails, earrings – well, everything. She’s hilarious to watch jump high up and try to get leaves off of the willow tree. AND… she is perfectly happy to sit on a lap and be petted. She’s VERY personable, thrilled with the attention, and loves to follow people around.

William named this female buff minorca Princess. She’s sweet and mellow. She is petite, though – both of the buff minorcas are. It will be interesting to see if there’s any evening out compared to the rest of the flock.

Here’s one of the americaunas. They are so cute and happy to be handled.

This is the mystery chick. I think it was supposed to be one of the black minorcas. Yeah – not so much. This one DOES NOT like being handled – HATES being caught – and doesn’t ever quite settle down if you do catch it to hold and love on it a bit. It will be very interesting to see what she turns into!

It’s amazing how quickly they’re growing. The babies are now 5 and 1/2 weeks old. Dang – time flies!

Hello world!

Do you have an unusual name?  I do.  It’s Dina.  Guess how to pronounce it.  I dare you.

Is it “dihnah”?  (Think Dinah Shore for those of us who are old enough to remember her!)

Or is it “deena”?  (As in Dina Merrill, the actress – again, for those of us who are old enough to remember!)

Or is it code for “diana”?

Or “denna”?

All the way through my public school education (grades 1 through 12) I didn’t ONCE have a teacher pronounce my first name correctly on the first day of school.  Believe me, I’ve heard pretty much every possible interpretation on my name!

It’s pronounced DEENA – and yes, spelled Dina.  My Mom met the actress Dina Merrill when she was pregnant with me and hoped I might one day have some of the grace the actress did.  Oh well, it was a nice thought!  I am one of the klutziest people I know.

But here’s the thing – in all of the confusion of trying to figure out your name – whether it’s a little bit wierd or different, or so routine it sometimes seems mundane – there’s One know knows you by name.  Intimately.  Perfectly.  Without reserve.

That makes my heart happy.

I’ll be honest with you.  I’ve got a pretty complex life.  There are days when I feel like juggling all of the pieces is a little more than I can handle.  That’s where the One who knows me by name comes in.  He never fails to give the strength to take the next breath.  He never fails to provide just what is needed – often before I know to ask.  He never fails to meet me with open arms.  He never has a faltering look like He’s trying to figure out who the heck I am anyway.  And He chooses to love me even though I have nothing to offer in return except my very real, very desperate need.

So – here’s my new blog.  I’m hoping to consolidate some other blogs I have in one place – we’ll see if it works.  If not, it’ll just be yet another blog on my desktop!  🙂  My hope is to bring some coherence.  Here’s hoping!

Phew! What a week…. okay – more!

I can’t believe I haven’t posted here since March 3rd! I thought for sure I had! I’d thought through posts I wanted to post! But oh yeah – there was that non-weightbearing bit… the “keep the toes above the nose” thing for all of those weeks. Dang – it’s amazing how an ankle reconstruction can really cramp your style!

So – I’ve had some interesting revelations of late…

First – was in Denver last week (with my son at National Jewish Health – honestly, if you have poorly controlled allergies, asthma, immunology issues – these people need to be your best friends!). Wierd thing happened. I was getting in an elevator and as I turned to press the button for our floor, I caught – out of the corner of my eye – view of a fairly slim lady, and I thought, “Gosh, she’s nicely proportioned!”

Okay – if you’ve been morbidly obese – do you do that, too? Do you think those kinds of thoughts? I do – all of the time! Most of the time it’s doing a mental calculation trying to figure out if I’m larger (which I typically assume) or smaller, than the other person. Not a competition type of thing – but more a still trying to figure out what my shape really IS kind of a thing!

…back to my story… then, I realized – THAT’S ME!


Then, remembering that I recently had the ankle reconstruction surgery and I use a walker for the most part still….

I was walking through a building and came to one of those heavy double doors with the bar across the middle that you push against to get the door to open. With the walker, I typically turn around, plant my back against it, and shove for all I’m worth. Know what?

I didn’t weigh enough to open the stinking door!


According to my scale, I weigh 149 now. My weight hasn’t started with a 14 anything since something like the 4th grade.


Oh – and I had to buy a dress for a court date (long story – won’t go there) – and I tried on quite a few. One of them was a VERY fitted little number – quite pretty – and know what? Size 12 fit very nicely.

So – let me just say. Yes, I’m liking my revision!

And that’s the scoop.

Later, I’ll come back and tell you the sordid tale of what my Mother’s Day weekend was like!

We need your help…

Our son, William (you can call him BiL if you spell it right – long story!) has decided to start an egg business. With the family, neighbors, and friends who are interested in eggs on a fairly regular basis – and quite a big interest from those who go by our place – it was decided that if we had some more chicks, we could probably have a pretty decent little egg business.

If you know anything about chicken keeping you’ll know that it’s not cheap or inexpensive. However, if you factor in what we paid for our not as good as what we grow for ourselves eggs in pre-chicken keeping days – it’s not THAT expensive. ($14 a week-ish for 40-free range eggs times 52 weeks – over $700 a year for eggs! So yeah – we’re doing just fine now!)

But we’ve got a dilemma.

We need a name for the Egg Business.

We want your input.

Would you help us?

William thinks “Hip Chick Eggs” is dumb – okay, the other words he’s used in conjunction to that name include stupid, bad, girly. But we’re striking out on coming up with an alternative.

Will you help? Just respond in the comments section, and then when we’ve got some options, we’ll post a poll where folks can vote – and then we’ll let you know what the winner is!