Sunday, August 18, 2019

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: It Comes, It Goes

    Hot days, then cool nights...I don't know whether to shiver or sweat. (In fact, I feel like I'm fighting off a case of summer flu from the fluctuations.) Keeping the plants alive and doing a fair amount of clearing out in the least the house sale is still in process. Did you realize that it's not uncommon to wait at least a month for the closing, when a contract is signed?

This is me... waiting


Living near the ocean at 63 in Mexico -- on $1,000 a month.

The best new food offerings from the Iowa State Fair. I'm drooling already...

Frugal accomplishments. I love Brandy's weekly lists, but this one seems even more helpful, tip-wise. (From The Prudent Homemaker)

The photo proves it -- a French politician is climbing to the summit, ice axe firmly planted. Impressive.  Oops, two other people in the background are 'climbing' (i.e., walking) without ropes! (Actually, his arm position disproves it, as well -- no flexing of the muscles, suggesting hanging off the ice axe. Which takes a lot of strength.)

Five money scams that are getting increasingly slick. Don't be fooled!

Great comfort, when things are going to pot. A classic from yours truly (the post, not the comfort)

Kiefer Sutherland falls on a tour bus, and seriously injures a rib. At least it wasn't his kneecaps. (If you ever watched 24, you know what I mean.)

The cheapest, fastest meal you can make. More than 100 answers from Quora. Including:

Meatless sloppy joes. Yum.  (From Home Cooking Memories)

Poor Santa...

The Bevington Object -- a new clue to Amelia Earthart's disappearance?

Financial independence on a modest income.  (From Financial Samurai)

'Easy Meals for 25+ People: Our Vacation Plan.'  (From Moneysaving Mom, whose family vacations with their cousins, uncles, aunts, parents, etc. annually)

Toast sandwiches and other hypercheap food from the Victorian age.

How penny-pinchers can still save money when living in a tiny home. And if you enjoyed that:

Tiny home updates to prioritize this summer.  Before it's too late, that is.  (From the Tiny House Blog -- please, Brick, make me this lounging area!)

Dozens of 'heirs' come forward to claim Jeffrey Epstein's estate. Gee, we didn't see that coming...not that there's going to be anything left after the lawsuits are settled.

The world's most haunted castles. (From Ancient Origins)

The inspiring story of Honda...and a man who Never..Gave..Up.

Horror stories behind the scenes of the original Star Trek.

Have a great week.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

An Argument for Giving Yourself An Allowance

     Growing up, we were little farm kids with chores and an allowance. Our parents didn't make a lot of money (most small farmers don't), so it wasn't much: 50 cents a week. But at the time, it was enough for a 5-cent candy bar, long stick of bubble gum, or my big splurge: 10 cents' worth of red-hots from the big glass case at Ben Franklin. The rest was carefully saved to buy presents for birthdays and Christmas.

     The allowance had long gone away by the time Brother and I started working for other people. He helped Dad on the farm, and worked at the same tractor sales/repair company my dad managed the service area for. (Dad was also a part-owner, something I didn't realize fully until after the company had gone bankrupt. Fortunately, he wasn't involved with the money angle, so had it easier -- he just lost his entire investment, that's all. A long story.) Eventually, he bought his own farm and raised porkers. To this day, I give him or his grandkids some kind of pig item every Christmas. (My favorite was the toy that squealed when you squeezed it. Brother never expresses his opinion about these tokens of sisterly love.)

Except it's John Deere...Pa ran the service dept. for a Case dealership

     I helped on the farm, too: selling vegetables in front of our house; picking up hay bales; feeding the chickens; working in the garden and helping Mom in the house. I also picked up any jobs that came my way, including housecleaning, babysitting, working in the school cafeteria (paid for lunch) and eventually working at the hardware store in town. I stayed at Rogers Hardware all through high school, and on college breaks.
     In college, I picked up the occasional housecleaning job, but also: worked at the cafeteria; was a secretary for a CPA; worked at a pick-your-own apple orchard; installed lightning rods (one long spring break); graded papers/was a class assistant; tutored; taught rockclimbing and backpacking, and helped lead various groups on trips in New Hampshire's White Mountains. I even taught a Children's Lit class (ENG291) and managed the college's Children's Book Fair.

     All good stuff for a writer learning her trade. 

'Land of Enchantment' - obviously Norman Rockwell felt the same way I did

But I always felt a little guilty about spending money on myself. True, there was the occasional breakfast (99 cents for 2 eggs, toast and coffee on Thursdays!) or burger. I bought some books -- but always off the clearance stand. (I still won't purchase from Amazon unless the book is wayyy marked down.) How could I justify such wild expenditures, when my folks were helping pay tuition? How would I cover next month's bills...or have enough to give Christmas presents? (The latter were often homemade, out of necessity.)
     That feeling will always be there, even decades after grad school, or years of working with a lower income, in a Colorado county famous for its high expenditures. It's just part of me now -- and the reason I invariably only buy meat, veggies and fruit on sale (or pick/grow/raise my own). I always check the clearance bins, and many times, find bargains.
     It's why I still buy most of my clothes at the local thrift shop. (This is less of a burden than you'd think, since many of the donations are high-end.) We enjoy being generous with gifts -- but they're invariably purchased on sale, or with some kind of a discount.
     It's just how we roll.

     We have been so close-run for money this spring and summer, because of the house sale. Yes, I splurged on an item or two -- the $2 videos, in particular. But I have never deliberately set money aside for myself. To use however I want. Even in high school, the most I ever spent was on a bowl of restaurant clam chowder, or an oatmeal cookie from the bakery across the street.

     But when the house sale goes through next month (God willing), we'll actually have our bills paid, an emergency fund -- and some left over. Thrifty Mom in Boise's post about an adult allowance made me start to think -- why couldn't I have some pocket money? (And for that matter, the Brick.) Thrifty Mom spends some of hers on chocolate. Why couldn't I buy an almond Snickers for myself, now and then, a box of sushi or a notebook, just because I felt like it?

(Those of you who do this regularly can stop laughing now. I'm a Hollander. It's in the genes.)

So here's what the Brick and I mutually decided: after the house sale closes in September, we will each 'give' ourselves $20 a month spending money. For whatever we want. It may not seem like much to you, but for a girl who spent $10 on 5 working t-shirts this summer (and felt guilty about that), it sounds like a fortune. Hmmm...a box of my favorite chicken tenders for a snack? Some of those luscious-looking peaches? Warm slippers? A new, feminine collar for Miss Ruby?

I'd like dogbones better, Mom!

They'll all probably be on sale -- I can't help myself on that. But they'll be... Just Because.

I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

While I'm At It...

Yellowstone Should Be So Lucky...

Living In A Fifth-Wheel: Two Months

I bought a box of nut chocolates (our mutual favorite) to celebrate the newly-signed house contract. The Brick looked at them suspiciously. "Are you sure these aren't from Christmas?" he asked. Nope, buddy -- but they were on sale for half-price!

     It's hard to believe that a few months have gone by since we started living in our new fifth-wheel home...and the "old" house went up on the market. 

It has been a learning experience. The real estate part is one the Brick would like never to repeat. Me, I could do it again. Sort of. Maybe. Kinda.

     I have never experienced time to go by so quickly -- yet stretch interminably on the worst days. But there have been some illuminating moments:

*We really CAN boondock for weeks -- maybe months -- at a time.  Eight solar cells, plus propane, cover our energy needs. Cellphone hotspots give us Internet access, when we can't get it anywhere else. Currently we're using electricity from the old house -- after all, we're still paying for it. A hose gives us fresh water. (Our tank leaked -- a new one is on its way from Oregon, but not here yet.) We're limited only by our access to water -- and how long the gray and blackwater tanks hold out. (See below.)

*I can still stock up -- IF there's space. As long as I pay attention, I can buy an extra. Maybe two. Just not a dozen, like I used to... that's how a lot of stuff got thrown out 

*We wear the same clothes more than we'd like to admit. A wash every few days keeps them available, and our closets from being overstuffed.

*I can still buy on clearance and at the thrift shop -- as long as I buy quality and we NEED those items. Limiting my visits helps. So does keeping a list.

*Hooray for unexpected storage! Our tabletop AND chair seats lift up, with space for mailing envelopes, extra pens and sparely-needed items. The table holds a modest amount of Christmas presents. (Yes, I still stock up on them when I can.) The only bad part: the chair bottoms were flimsy and not attached too well -- and yours truly overfilled them at first.

Cool, huh...all chairs should work like this

*The bedroom is darker...and quiet. Windows are smaller. Two sides are all storage, insulating against sound, and the bed lifts up for additional space. (That's where I keep books for sale, quilts and samples for lectures and classes. Winter coats, too.)

*Tidiness counts. We just cannot leave piles like we used to.

*LOVE our laundry chute! This open space under the bathroom sink drops down to the 'basement,' where a tall basket waits for dirty clothes. I open that compartment, grab the basket, and off we go. (I have a portable washer, recommended by other RVers, but haven't tried it, as long as we have access to the old house.)

*Lots of light. Our windows are large -- that's one thing I especially liked about this fifth-wheel. Pull-down shades give privacy when needed, and fold away easily when we want views, instead.

The new...and the old

*Meeting with clients has been productive, thanks to the library. I love this place for its great books, videos and fabulous  used-stuff-for-sale room. Its' study and meeting rooms are busy, but there's always been one available. It's quiet, clean and roomy.
     Even in a pinch, clients have stopped by the trailer. No problem.

*It all works -- it just doesn't all work at the same time. If the air conditioner's going, the microwave can't be used, or it trips the breaker. Not a big deal, since you can flip the a.c. switch on and off in a moment.

*Even the toilet issue is ok. (Warning: slightly gross moments ahead.) We limit it mostly to 'liquids,' and the toilet paper issue is solved the Mexican way: a plastic bag, emptied weekly, in a small push-top metal trash can. (There are always ziploc bags, too, if you're camping.) I keep the bathroom extra-clean...something I have to do, anyways, in the "old" house. Any #2 moments are saved for elsewhere, if possible.
      Other RVers said if you do this, you can go quite a while before dumping...and they're right. Whenever this need comes up, we plan to pay for a night at a campground with a dumping station. The process is surprisingly odor-free, though you really don't want to think about what you're doing, while you're doing it. While we're at it, we'll fill up the freshwater tank, use the wifi and the electricity.

View from the kitchen table -- fridge/freezer and storage to the right;
TV, stereo and fireplace to the left. Bedroom is up the steps, shower on the right.
Yep, we're roughing it, alright.
Living in the fifth-wheel isn't perfect. We can bump into each other, especially during mornings. The dogs stay close and are easy to trip over. The fridge has a tendency to leak into the crisper. There's not much room for books, and our winter clothes must be stored in the 'basement.' I have to pass up deals now and then, because they're not what we need at the present. And it would be difficult to host parties for more than four or five people, unless we eat outside. But with care, these issues can all be worked out. We've already solved some big ones:  we'll be sharing Daughter #2 and Son #1's mailbox. Our phones and medical needs will adapt to moving around some. We'll keep Colordo residency; after all, our girlies, son and friends are here. Contact info (except for the address change) stays the same. And wherever we go, we take our home with us.

We're going to do just fine.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

This is THE Post...

    Ohio State University is attempting to trademark the word "THE." As in "THE Ohio State University."

     No, I am not making this up.

     True to form, University of Michigan people got wind of this silliness, and added their own twist to the subject:

What can you say but: 


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

I Am Happy to Announce...

We have a signed contract on 3700 Collins St.! 

And it was achieved by God's grace (primarily), a lot of "coincidences" that just happened to fall into place...and a little of what the Brick calls "horse trading." A last-minute problem solved - not in a fun way, but solved.

Thank God -- and I mean that. Literally.

We were pretty frustrated when the first contract fell through.

This one, though, seems a lot more solid. 
 By God's grace, we'll close on the sale Sept. 17.

We celebrated by going to see Hobbs & Shaw, then splurging on popcorn AND a drink. (Hey, we broke Hollanders know how to have a good time.) 

Another stride in the right direction!

The Heat is Back

Hot weather has returned.
    Time to sweat, drink iced tea and wait.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Liquid Gold (or Silver)

Finally -- finally -- it's getting a bit cooler. The difference may be because we keep having these crashing, thundering, downright honking thunderstorms. Sometimes they roar over us, after an hour of grumbling. Sometimes we get a deluge. And on occasion, we get a blessed wispy rainfall that lasts overnight, soaking into the thirsty ground, . Rain is so unusual for Colorado this time of year; the landscape is usually crunchy brown by now. But since our house is still on the market -- though encouraging possibilities are developing! -- we are very grateful for the moisture. 

Meanwhile, we keep the house clean, work on some tasks, gradually clear out the garage...and wait. 
At least now it seems like we're waiting for a reason, instead of just waiting.
          The difference is wonderful.

By the way, before you go hogwild into this week's Stuff, please take a look at my Facebook page, for news about our friends Victoria and Rick Frazier. She is making amazing progress, considering the severity of her recent stroke. You go, girl!

Jeffrey Epstein's Wikipedia entry may give you more than pause. Not only did he have access to a bajillion dollars (a lot of it apparently stolen or weazled), but he'd been indulging his taste for young girls for decades -- and procuring them for others. A truly creepy guy...and it makes you wonder. How did he get away with this for so long? It's said he kept a secret diary,  with many details of his and others' activities, as 'insurance.' Where is it?
     More than a few of the rich and famous are drawing big sighs of relief, now he's dead.

Ten civilizations that may have beaten Columbus to America's shores. (From Listverse)

Vinyl records that may be worth a fortune. If you've got some, check out this 40-record slideshow.

A Holocaust survivor celebrates her 104th birthday in front of Jerusalem's Western Wall -- and her many descendants.

Sydney, Australia...and whales!  Follow this RV couple via their blog, Travel with Kevin and Ruth.

"Eighteen financial things I wish I'd done straight out of college."  (From The Simple Dollar)

Around the world with a picnicGreat food from several countries, thanks to Under the Median.

Hugenot torteAn elegant apple cake, said to come by way of emigrating Hugenots. (From Best American Food)

Six so-called documentaries full of ridiculousness.  (From Cracked) If you liked that:

Five 'non-fiction' memoirs that are anything but. Including the guy who wrote that he was dead! Not to mention:

Five weird discoveries that will mess up a lot of history books.

Frozen fruit slush -- cold and refreshing.  (From Thrifty Frugal Mom)

A bunch of Colorado State Fair specials -- check your local fair website. (They should have specials, too.)

Wedding DYIs that look fancier than they really are.  Good for parties, too.

Kate Singh is offering some of her kindle titles for free! I love this lady's no-nonsense approach to frugal living. (She has other books for sale, and I'm not certain how long these will be $0.00. Be sure to double-check before you click to buy.)

A homecoming king does something totally unexpected -- and wonderful.

Ten colors with decidedly (ahem) colorful histories.  Hang in there until #1, Mummy Brown. Or maybe you don't want to know. (Thanks -- we think -- Listverse)

Justice On Trial -- a review of a new book about Kavanaugh and his confirmation to the Supreme Court.

Pet-shaming. More silliness!

And finally, one of the best opening scenes ever for a movie:

2014's Guardians of the Galaxy. Try not to boogie.

Have a great week. Keep up the good work, rain!


Saturday, August 10, 2019

The World's Oldest Sewing Needle Surfaces

...and it wasn't found in a haystack.

Guess its age:  an estimated FIFTY THOUSAND YEARS old.

More than 40,000 years more ancient than the last one found. Ironically, many have appeared in Russia, but Egypt also has its share. Viking age bone needles have been found, too.

This one's Siberian, featured in a Listverse column:

Archaeologists recently unearthed the world’s oldest sewing needle in Siberia’s Altai Mountains. The 50,000-year-old needle was discovered in Denisova Cave and was used by non-Homo sapiens. The 7-centimeter (2.8 in) needle contains a hole for thread and was made from the bone of a large, unidentified bird. Researchers had previously found needles in later cave layers, but this is the oldest and longest one yet discovered.
This needle predates the previous earliest-known specimen by 40,000 years. It was discovered in the same layer as our mysterious hominid cousins, the Denisovans, who were named after the cave. The Denisovans were more technologically advanced than Neanderthals. A precise hole in a Denisovan bracelet could only have been accomplished with a high-rotation drill similar to those used today.

photo from Siberian Times
Read more about it here. And yes, the scientists studying it say the bird bone needle is still usable.

The oldest U.S.-uncovered needles, so far, are about 2,000 years old, found in the American Southwest. But the cactus needles were used for tattoos, not sewing.

Come on, America, get cracking!

Sunbonnet DOW pattern, from Pinterest via

Friday, August 9, 2019

A Frightening Fact About Mass Shooters

...and it's not related to gun control, either.

Of the 27 deadliest mass shootings, TWENTY-SIX had no biological fathers active in their upbringing.

Did you realize that??

Only one was raised by a father since childhood.

From Suzanne Venker's opinion piece on this subject:

“Indeed, there is a direct correlation between boys who grow up with absent fathers and boys who drop out of school, who drink, who do drugs, who become delinquent and who wind up in prison,” she writes.  “And who kill their classmates.”

Makes you think, doesn't it.

If this isn't an argument for trying to work out problems in your marriage first, with divorce only as an absolute, tried-everything-else final option...