Tuesday, July 30, 2019


As I ride this long strange trip called life, one of my goals is to be able to retire at a reasonably young age.  I would have time to road trip, garden to my hearts content, and find out what new hobbies interest me. And sitting by the wave pool at the park while my kid swims like a dolphin......

 Basically, I do not plan on working until the day I die..

To achieve the goal of financial independence, I invest in dividend growth stocks.  I buy shares of strong companies that return a chunk of their profits as dividends, and ones that have a track record of increasing the dividend.  Since these  shares would be held long term, as the dividend increases my return rate from my initial purchase would also increase.  

For example, Boeing currently pays a dividend of around 2.42%.  As they have increased the dividend over the years, my investment now earns 5.27%.   Give it some time, and the dividend will pay more annually than what the shares were purchased for.

What kind of companies should I buy?  I want them to increase dividends, hopefully beat the inflation rate with that dividend at original purchase, and not be paying out too high a percentage of profits in these dividends, so they do not have a risk of cutting the payout.

Should I then choose companies that are more suited ethically to my tastes?  Should I buy "green" companies?  Solar companies? Should I avoid petroleum manufacturers?  Should I avoid tobacco companies? Should I stay away from companies like Walmart, that put local stores out of business and have full time employees needing food stamps?   

Or should I buy these companies to have a voice using the theory that if enough people buy shares of a company, they will change their culture?  I actually did that and bought 1 share of BP in 2010, hoping that if enough people did that, there would be a more vigorous clean up.  Hmmm...

One can make a case for unethical behavior or unethical products for 99% of public companies.  Coca-Cola and their sugar sales.  Hormel foods and their processed meats. Johnson & Johnson and their use of plastic.  Tyson foods and the whole concept of processed chicken nuggets....

I am not about to sacrifice my chance at retirement just because I did not want to be a .0000001% owner of a company like Hormel, or Apple, that relies on Chinese plants owned by Foxconn where the workers are in some sketchy conditions.

I own some oil company shares (Phillips 66 and Chevron).  I own some shares of Walmart.  I own shares of McDonald's.  I own Tyson and Hormel. It does not mean I have to eat at McDonald's or shop at Walmart and buy Hormel hot dogs and stuff my face with them.  They are going to be around whether I buy them or not.

But I consciously decided not to own any tobacco companies, like Altria (MO) or Phillip Morris (PM).  
It just crossed some line I have with knowingly poisoning their customers with a guaranteed killer.  I believe in personal freedom, but I will not be any percentage of that enabler.  Yes, they are diversified into other fields, but I just feel better in my soul not owning shares of them.  I have a large enough moat of other ethically challenged companies to avoid going down that road.

Some mutual funds claim to be "green" or "ethical".  But to whose ethical limits?

So what's your take on this?   Is there a company that you would refuse to own over some personal ethics?  Do you balance it our with a company that is "ethically pure"?  Am I a hypocrite for buying Chevron but not Phillip Morris?

By the way, here's my.....
DISCLAIMER:   I am not a licensed professional in any sense.  I am not a financial adviser.  
Far from it...  This site, my posts, and my opinions of publicly traded companies are for entertainment purposes only.  My personal investments should in no way in hell be considered investment recommendations. If you have money, seek a professional before making any financial decisions.  I am in no way liable for any financial losses occurred by any party that visits this site. 

The Chrysanthemum Cocktail Recipe

So at a trip to the local booze store, I stumbled across Benedictine.  They normally never stock being that's it's pretty standard grocery store booze options around there and I had always wondered what it was all about.  So I picked up a bottle.

I also picked up a bottle of Absinthe on the way to the register.
Because I still have both of my ears....

Benedictine has this legendary claim that only three people at one time knows the recipe.  It's a blend of 4 different distillations of various herbs and other aromatic items that create this mystery flavor. Notes of honey and vanilla, and then who the hell knows.
All I can say is it's quite tasty.  Just a bunch of liquor goodness.

I wanted to make a cocktail with Benedictine other than the popular "B & B" (which comes in a bottle and is the main way it is sold nowadays).  Another option was The Singapore Sling.  Great name, but had a bunch of fruit juice I didn't have and didn't feel like a Hawaiian tourist at the moment.  Maybe some other day.

Lo and behold, I discover the Chrysanthemum Cocktail.  It is one of the very interesting antique cocktails that I ran across on "the internets" lately.  You can tell it's a vintage cocktail from the huge amount of vermouth it contains.   And it requires Absinthe.  Perfect!!!!

2 oz dry Vermouth
1 oz Benedictine
1 tsp Absinthe

Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with a large orange peel wedge.

Be very very very careful with the amount of Absinthe you add.  I dared to add nearly 2 tsp and ended up with a licorice straight shot....

The final result of a correctly made Chrysanthemum is wonderful and goes with a rainy night.  Someday it will rain in Seattle.  I'm sure of it.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Spanaki Me Faki (Spinach and Lentil Soup)

Next to lamb and feta cheese, nothing is more "Greek" than lentil soup.  Every Greek mom makes a type of lentil soup for her family.  This one is a variation on the norm.  Usually, lentils are cooked with a bit of onion, celery, and carrot, maybe a tomato.  This one is more of a spinach soup with some lentils.  Here goes...  This is a super easy recipe.

½ lb dried lentils, washed
4 cups water
1 lb fresh spinach
¼ cup olive oil
1 bunch green onions
2 cloves garlic sliced
salt and pepper

Soak lentils for about an hour in warm water.
Drain and transfer to soup pot.  Add 4 cups of water.  Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and cook until soft, about 30 minutes.

As the lentils cook, wash the spinach, remove the course stems, and cut in half.  Let drain in a colander.  Also, prep the green onions and garlic.
 Heat olive oil in a pan and sauté the green onion and garlic until soft.

It may seem like a lot of oil, but we’re trying to flavor the oil here. 

Add it to the cooked lentils. Oil and all, Also, add spinach and cook for about 15 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper. 

That's some good eatin'..

Friday, July 26, 2019

Blog Roll Updated

I updated my blog roll and will be doing so periodically...

Here's a list of of some of my favorite blogs when it comes to dividend investing, food, music, etc.  Usually these are good reads and can be quite informative.


Budgets Are Sexy   Very entertaining website about many aspects of personal finance

Dividend Diplomats One of my favorites for seeing what stock purchases they made and what they are watching.  Much of their portfolios and mine are similar.

Mr. Free @ 33  I've followed Jason from way back in the earlier days of Dividend Mantra.  His portfolio gave me many tips along the way to my own financial freedom.  I do like his "Undervalued Dividend Growth Stock of the Week" articles.  Many of them are already in my portfolio.  Sometimes, I get a new one to check out

Passive Income Persuit  I used this blog's version of a portfolio spreadsheet (with a couple of tweaks) to track my own.  Easily the best spreadsheet I have found online.

DivHut   One of the first blogs about dividend investing I followed.

Mr Money Moustache  - Lots of interesting articles about living a frugal lifestyle.

Here are some more that I feel have a good vibe in regards to dividend growth investing

Mr. Tako Escapes

My Dividend Dyanasty

Dividend Daze

Passive Income Vortex

Dividend Hawk

Passive Cash Blog

The Dividend Pig

Dividend Growth Investor

Dividend Compounder


I do my research on Discogs.   This is the ultimate database for researching, purchasing, and selling vinyl records  One of me favorite parts is I can add releases to my collection


I'm fortunate to have grown up being fed my my Greek mom and her wonderful cooking.  Other than the recipes I have learned from her, I often go to these sites:

Olive Tomato

Almost Turkish Recipes  One of my favorite sites.

Local Kine Recipes   For Hawaiian

David Rocco   For some amazing Italian

Persian Food Recipes   I've had fun trying some recipes here too

Elly Says Opa!  Another great Greek food blog.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Tastes Like Chicken...

Tastes like chicken

It was just another warm afternoon and I had some time to take a stroll in my local supermarket (QFC).  I usually look around, find something tasty, and scrape up a dinner for my wife and I.

Lo and behold, they had rabbit in the frozen section reserves for stuff like frozen soup bones and chitlins.  Next to that sits the Miracle Whip. WTF?

As soon as I saw the rabbit, a memory of my Greek mother making a braised "chicken" one night flashed into my memory.  I was about 12, and she had served this braised chicken with some veggies with a sinister grin on her face.  Everything was fine and tasted like chicken.  Then I bit into some bones that sure did not come from chicken. THIS IS NOT CHICKEN.   It was like a leg and thigh that came from a mutant chicken or chicken flavored trukey leg.

I then flashed to what it could have been.  Oh the horror.  

Once, I opened our 2nd fridge in our basement and found a plucked sparrow that had hit the window.  She eventually steamed it and spit it out after one bite.  

At that moment, if she had told me cat, I would have not been surprised.  I had no idea what this thing  was other than it tasted like chicken.

She then let me know it was rabbit. My dad interjected that he used to eat it all the time back in "The Depression".  So if this is what they ate back in "The Depression", then it tasted like chicken.

So I got the frozen rabbit and decided to recreate the meal I had at age 12. I called mom and let her know and she got all excited and told me to make "rabbit fricassee".  I listened to her recipe, stored it in my memory and went about to make a nice savory braised rabbit with some veggies

 Serve it with some buttered egg noodles and a green salad and this dish will change the mind of any one weary of eating a cute little bunny.  

Maybe Wiley E Coyote had it right all along.

A butcher can order you a rabbit if they do not carry it in the store.

1 rabbit (about 2 1/2 pound), dressed, cut into serving size pieces
salt and fresh ground black pepper as needed
1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 celery ribs chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup chopped tomato
2 cups chicken
1 Tbsp rosemary
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

Preheat your oven to 350.

In a large Dutch oven (or other heavy pot), heat the olive oil over medium-high flame. Season rabbit pieces with salt and pepper. When the oil is hot, brown the rabbit in batches so it’s nice and browned on all sides, about 6-7 minutes.  Don’t cram it all in for one browning or you steam your meat!  Put rabbit on plate and add the onions, celery, garlic, and sauté for about 5 minutes until they are translucent

Add the wine, and stir to scrape any browned bits from the bottom. Bring the wine to  boil for a minute or two; then add the tomato, chicken broth, rosemary, thyme, and oregano. Add the rabbit back in, and stir to combine.  Cover tightly, and place the rabbit into a preheated oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the rabbit is fork tender. Remove and stir in the fresh parsley. Taste it and add salt to taste. Allow to rest covered for 20 minutes before serving.  

Serve it with some buttered egg noodles and of course some bread to soak up the goodness.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

July Stock Purchases

"Hey John.  It's only July 17th. What are you doing?!?"

Yeah, I know.  July is not over.  We're barely half way through the month.  What am I doing?
Well, I'm done making my purchases for the month, and I'm eager to talk about it.

I wanted to take a bit of profits and buy some shares.  I think I had this look on my face....

I wanted to balance out my portfolio a bit more and took profits on some that were a bit more of a position than I prefer.  I stick to around a $4,000 position per company.  Apple (AAPL) was at over $9K cost basis.  The Southern Company (SO) was also well over the $4K threshold.   Both were well in the positive, so it was a good opportunity to take some profits and buy even more shares.  And my purchases all have a higher dividend rate than AAPL.  Win win.

I sold 27 shares of AAPL for $5,526.65 and 22 shares of SO for $1230.54.   SO is now at a $4,000 cost basis.  AAPL is at a $6,700 cost basis (and will not sell any more..).  I sacrificed $83.16 of annual dividend with AAPL and $54.56 with SO.   I need to make up the $137.72 in dividends, and them some.

Time to go shopping!

I first bought 37 shares of CVS for $2079.73 today after getting 3 shares 5 days ago  I owned some in the past, but always wanted to get to my full position.
These purchases added $80 to my annual dividends.  Booo-ya. 

Next, I decided to get Caterpillar (CAT) up to my $4K position.  I bought 17 shares for $2321.36.   Another one I had my eye on, but hesitated to buy just because they were always choice number 2 or 3 on a particular day. 
This added $70.04 to my annual dividends.  Already passed up the $137.72 loss!!!!

Then I got 7 shares for Cracker Barrel for $1256.16 to get to just about a full position.  Strong company that, like CAT, I held for a long time and wanted to get more.  Another one I skipped for too long.
This added $36.40 of annual dividends.

Finally, I spent the rest of my available funds to get 43 shares of Bank Of America for $1270.48.   I got this one up to $3,500 of my $4K goal.  As I had written in an earlier post  (Recent buy - BAC), BAC will soon announce a large dividend increase, and I wanted to get in on it.

This added $25.80 to my annual dividends.

So with my stock switcheroo, I added $86.52 to my annual dividends and $2643.29 of profits to my total cost basis.


Any thoughts?

- John

Sicilian Meatballs

I already I know what you're thinking.... this is tasty and I should make it.  Really.

I love meatballs, but had never had them with pine nuts and currants (or rasins).   I'm not a big fan of meat with fruit or sweet items.  But since it's hard not to love anything Italian, I gave it a shot.  Even though, the jury was still out until I had the first bite.  Good enough for the blog.   Here goes.....

2 lb lean ground beef (or 1 lb beef and 1 lb ground pork)
2 eggs
1 cup grated parmigiano cheese
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup currants or raisins
small bunch of Italian parsley, finely chopped
a few leaves basil, cut small
hand-full of white bread, no crust
1 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 28oz can tomato puree
1 small can tomato sauce
1 cup red wine

For the Meatballs:
In a mixing bowl, add ground meat, pine nuts, rasins, eggs, cheese, parsley, and basil. 

Soak the bread in the milk, then squeeze out the excess milk.  Break it up and add it to the bowl.   Mix it up and form into small meatballs.

For the sauce, Sut the onion and saute in the olive oil unti softened.  Add the wine and cans of tomatoes.  Bring to a boil and add meatballs (carefully so you don't break them up.) 

 Cook uncovered for about 30 minutes on medium heat.  

Easy as that!  Looks good, huh?

Enjoy it with some nice Italian wine. 

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Watch List

Many of the bloggers who write about dividend growth investing post their current stock watch list, usually focusing on a couple that they are monitoring that current month.

I do things a bit differently.   Instead of focusing on two or three companies that have a good valuation at the time, I have a list of about a dozen companies that have a good track record of dividend growth, low P/E, and low payout percentage.

When it comes time to buy, I look for the one that is the best value at that time.   

I do edit this list from time to time.  I always keep looking for companies with a nice track record and will remove a company if they have awful quarterly financial results or have changed their dividend payouts for the worse.

Image result for stock market

Yeah it looks that crazy....

Here's my watch list.  What you see is the Ticker symbol as well as the amount of shares I'm looking to purchase  (usually around $4,000 worth), my progress, the P/E, the payout ratio, the 5 year increase in dividends, and the track record of their dividend increases.   

I do have to update some of these numbers every few months.

1YR. P/E (under S&P 22.02)
PAYOUT RATIO (under 60%)


Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Recent Buy - BAC

 After receiving my biggest dividend of my portfolio, I pulled the trigger on a purchase I’ve been looking forward to.  

I picked up 20 shares of Bank of America (BAC) this morning for $584.07.   I’m now at 74 shares in the portfolio, with a goal of getting that to around 130.

Even though I will never be a customer of Bank of America with great credit unions out there, it's hard to turn down a growth share when it come to funding my retirement...

After passing the latest Federal Reserve's Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (the stress test), they have been given the green light for  their capital plan and retuning $37 billion to their shareholders between dividend increases and stock buybacks.   There will be a 20% increase of their dividend to 18 cents per share from 15.  
That’s what I call a no brainer for hitting buy...  They were not on my normal watch list, but instantly jumped to the front of the pack with this announcement.   So I pulled the trigger.   I did not care about the valuation at this point, I just wanted to get in on it.  Their P/E is at 10.84.  Seems low, but the industry average is only at 10.51.  Still, they are in good financial health and I just could not ignore a 20% rise in dividends.

I picked up 20 shares of Bank of America (BAC) this morning for $584.07.    This increases my annual dividend by $12 before the official announcement.  With a 20% increase, my dividend will go up by $20.88 per year. 
I’m now at 74 shares in the portfolio, with a goal of getting that to around 135.   I’m using $4,000 cost basis for a full position at this time.

I just love buying shares of a company I know I will hang onto forever.