Thursday, July 27, 2017

Da-duh... Da-duh...

In honor of Shark month:

Shark Attack Jello Shots

All you need: blue jello, some gummy-type shark candies, a cup of rum and red dye.

Maybe skip the red dye...eww.

 If you're feeling timid about it all, this version substitutes regular fish:

Here's another version -- same concept, but expanded to include a beach.

Be sure to hum this while you're working. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Frugal Hits and Misses - July Report

     It has been a long, hot month: trudge, trudge, trudge. Work on commitments. Wash clothes. (Wear them damp sometimes, because it just feels wonderful.) Feed the animals. Work on the house. Work on the yard. Try to sleep. (Much of the time, it's  too hot, and one of us is restless.) We're making progress; filling and getting rid of the dumpster was a big step forward. 

I'm not sure how we did it...God's grace, most probably. But so far, we've paid for property taxes, extra expenses for the truck PLUS bathroom renovations without having to pull money from retirement accounts. We did take out a mortgage loan to help pay for the truck and bathrooms, but there's still a chunk left  -- not a huge one, but we still have extra left. And that will go back to help quickly pay the loan off. 

     God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.


*Donated bags and bags of stuff,  to the Disabled Veterans and the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum. What a relief to see these go out of the house, and on to a good cause.

*Watched some more free television -- episodes from Supergirl, Turn, The Vikings and our newest: The Mist. Got a couple of dollar videos from the library's used book room.

*Met the deadline for recertifying with AQS...barely.

*Flowers for the back deck and front. A pink-streaked yellow rosebush ($8 and change), plus a purple Eyes of God flower basket ($6.80). The yellow rosebush I got back in the spring on discount just produced its first blossom!

*Big bag of hot dog buns -- from a friend. (We used them for a meal or two, and fed the rest to the chickens.) Another big bag of rolls, from a stop at the thrift shop. (They give out free bread once in a while.) These padded out supper -- the rest will go to the chickens.

*Started a new phone plan: combined with friends in an expanded family plan. Not only was it cheaper, it included unlimited data -- something we're going to need when on the road.

*Didn't do much shopping -- and then, mostly on necessities for the house. Home Depot and Lowe's are getting to know us and Son #1 by sight.

*Half-price day at the thrift shop. We live in one of the wealthiest counties in the country -- which makes going to Treasures in the Park a rewarding experience. Often I can find clothing that's better quality, with brand names, than what I could afford elsewhere.
     Today was no exception -- thanks to the sale, plus a volunteer discount, I got two denim shirts (one of them Land's End) and a linen shirt for $1.25 each. Jeans for me, and a pair of shorts for the Brick:  $1.50 each. Birthday cards for 12 cents. Videos for 50 cents to $1.50 (for sets). I held back a lot -- don't want to move any more than we have to -- but these were all great deals we can put to good use.

*Got some Christmas and birthday presents on deep discount. (Now if I can only store them until then without the recipients noticing. I've already caught Daughter #2 rummaging through a box.)

*$20 worth of cherry tomato plants  (plus some free bananas and a can of mice) from our neighbor friends. Hopefully those tomatoes are going to start bearing big-time.

*Cherries for $1.49/lb -- then 97 cents/lb! Hooray for summer's fresh produce.

*A couple of deli readycooked chickens for $3.59 each.

* A huge sale on freezer burritos: 25-cents each. (I bought 17, which helped get me through the week the Brick was gone.)

*Two dogsitting jobs.

*Some appraising -- especially collections this month. (I was also busy revising and clearing away ones I'd already done. More's coming in August and September, anyways.)  Deposits for an upcoming restoration job, and 2018 gigs. An editing job. A focus group for our newly-renovated library.
      Everything helps.

*Sold two books on Amazon. (One never arrived -- had to refund. Darn.)

*Whenever Swagbucks offered extra points (Swagbucks) for shopping, I ordered -- if it was something we needed., produced two bath mats, dogfood and treats. Plus a tank top and another birthday present on deep discount.
     Swagbucks is a great way to get bonus points for items -- and searches -- you need to do, anyways. They don't sell your information, and the Brick and I each earn about $50 in Amazon gift cards each year. Go here if you're curious and want to know more.

*Free bag of dogfood from Petsmart. ($25 worth!)


*We needed to rent the dumpster an additional month. Ah well.

*The Brick's mandolin bluegrass camp cost -- gasp -- MONEY! Actually, it was very reasonably priced, and he and friend Mike weren't spendthrift. He loved it and learned some things. And he had a nice break from the chaos at home. I'm glad he went.

The mandolin player at his art

*Garden #1 fried because of the heat-- the flowers and tomato seedlings have needed extra water to stay alive. We've also had to keep the swamp cooler running a lot, which means higher utility costs.

*The chickens are still alive. And still laying -- barely. I let some produce spoil -- ergh -- fortunately, they made good use of it.

*Didn't get a book and video returned in time. A couple bucks in overdue fines.

*Some household repairs that still need doing. More $$ out of the savings kitty for this.

*Money is still flowing out for the master bathroom renovation. Thank God it's slowed to a trickle now.  We'll have to kick out more soon for paint and flooring, but it's okay. We'll deal with it.

*Another expense is looming, as well:  the Mama's upcoming birthday celebration on August 19 in Michigan. We'll share the costs with Brother and his wife, which helps. They're good Hollanders, too, and quick to see a bargain. We'll deal with that, too.

For previous hits & misses reports, starting with June, go here. 

Summer can only last so long. For which I am very grateful.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Fruity, Flowery Wine... By Accident!

     At least three weeks ago, I opened a #10 can of mandarin oranges. ($3.00, courtesy of the Friday/Saturday store in Arvada. What a buy.) After we ate most of them, I put the rest in a plastic pitcher in the fridge.
     Where they sat...and sat...and sat.

     Finally, during my current clean-out campaign, I served the oranges topped with whipped cream. They looked ok -- they were fine, right?

     Son #1 took the first spoonful. "These oranges are fizzy," he said.
     "I think they're alcoholic," the Brick chimed in.

They were right!

Those silly oranges, plus a little juice, had acquired a tangy effervescence that was actually better than the original. Somehow, they acquired enough yeast from the air to make the citrus version of hard cider.


I thought about this when I read Penniless Parenting's take on Redbud Flower Wine. She mixed a bunch of flowers with sugar and water, then left the jar on the counter to catch any 'wild yeasts.' A few weeks later, it made a mildly alcoholic wine. A few weeks after that, it became a spicy vinegar for salad dressing and such.

Does this mean that I should open another #10 can, and leave it in the refrigerator for a few weeks?

Or will it turn into vinegar, instead...

Update: The dumpster is gone. A very large truck stopped by this afternoon, and hauled it away, with much crashing. Suddenly our driveway looks HUGE.

Bye bye, Large Orange Friend...and whatever the heck that graffiti scrawl said on your side.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Grandma, I'm Thinking Of You...

Shades of  my tiny five-foot Grandma Cumings. I saw her, standing at the back door, take on her grown sons -- my uncles -- and yell, "WIPE YOUR FEET!"
     Which they did, sheepishly, like the little kids they once were.

She only carried a shotgun during hunting season, though...

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Dumpster Diving

This has been our friend for the past two months. 

Broken chairs, replaced toilets, rotting boards...anything and everything has made its way into the gaping maw of our Large Orange Friend, with our blessings. It looks terrible in the driveway -- but like the smelly dog who cheerfully takes care of your leftovers, you can't always have perfection.

Hey -- we resemble that! 
Last Thursday, our contractor friend said the dumpster was going away today (Monday). That meant ramping up the throwing-away process -- and fast. The Brick spent Saturday afternoon getting rid of old drywall from the garage. Yesterday, we spent much of the day dragging out all sorts of items, and topping it off with selections from the wood trashpile behind the garage. Daughter #2 and Son #1 showed up in the evening to help finish off the job. (Either they were really kind...or stupid. Either way, we were very grateful.) 

     It's still HOT, with a bit of cooling-off toward night. Someday, we hope to take a vacation. Go swimming. Have a picnic. ANYTHING that doesn't mean sorting through fabric, filling up bags and throwing wood, javelin-style, into the dumpster. 

     It's full, by the way, and waiting for pickup. I won't be sorry to see it go.

Abby, on the other hand, stays. She's priceless1

AUGUST 27th is the deadline for buying your senior national parks pass at $10. (Actually, it's $20, if you buy it online -- $10 for the pass, $10 for the processing fee.) On August 28, the price goes up to $80! If you're 62 or older, you should seriously consider getting this NOW.

A black cop, doing her job, is murdered while on duty. How come we're not hearing more outrage about HER death?

Ten ways the Victorians poisoned themselves. My old favorite, fabric dyes, isn't even on this list.  (From Listverse)

Dealing with the heat, when you live in a truck.  (From Inside the Box)

"What's with all the haters?"  From Thrifty Mom in Boise... the way I've been feeling lately.

What they found when renovating a dimestore in a small town in Michigan. (Our cousins own this place!)

Basting a quilt by using pool noodles. I knew about storing them this way, but makes sense. (From Quilt Digest)

A Swiss couple went out to check on their cattle -- and disappeared. Seventy-five years later, their bodies emerge from the snow!  (This happens more than you think: like the two young Japanese climbers whose bodies were found on the Matterhorn -- 45 years after they disappeared.)

Six normal people who made split-second decisions to do something crazy -- and brave.  (From Cracked) Also from them:

Five historical buildings with weird hidden stairs, buildings and such. Including the Lincoln Memorial! And yet another one:

Five everyday places with dark historical secrets. Case in point: Hitler's suicide bunker is topped by a kids' playground!

Cats and rats, living together.  I don't know what I think about this...but the Creepy Index inches up every time I think about it.

The quinoa whisperer...and a look at gardening, Alaska-style.  (From Survive and Thrive)

Martin Landau died last week. An elegant man.

Martin Landau-Mission-1968.jpg

John Heard also died -- only 72.  He is probably known best as the dad from Home Alone, but he had some incredibly complex roles, including 'good' guys who are really 'bad.' (But you don't know it until the very end.) An amazing actor.

Have a good week. Stay cool, and go SOMEWHERE.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Get In Touch With Your Inner Kindergartner

I thought this quite interesting...

I teach students how to do this with watercolors, but have never had much success with crayons. 

Looking forward to trying this!

Visit Kitchen Table Classroom for the particulars.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Slow Progress

Still hot. 

Everything feels muggy and sticky. The refrigerator started dripping a pool of water while the Brick was still at mandolin music camp, causing momentary panic. Fortunately, he was able to tell me which nozzle to turn off, to get the water to stop. (It was the one for the icemaker.)

     The dogs find a cool spot on the tile or rug, and lay as flat as possible under the fan.


Sleep gives Mr. Charles some relief -- he's been scratching a lot because of allergies.

We got a little rain, yesterday and today. (Thank you, God.) The grass resembles plaid -- half brown and half green.

Son #1 has been sick, keeping him from working more on the master bathroom. (Poor guy.) Being here in the heat wouldn't have benefitted him much, anyways.

I trudge through the work. Various movies have been keeping me awake, including Day After Tomorrow and San Andreas (disaster movies), goofy episodes of Night Court and Keeping Up Appearances...Robin Hood, the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I also watched the full run of Planet of the Apes movies -- which have been surprisingly good.

     Maybe it helps to watch them at 2 in the morning. 

Battle for the planet of the apes.jpg
This one was still a little weird, even at 2 a.m.

 I saw two of the new Apes, too, with Andy Serkis as Caesar. (And they were good, though the dogs were nervous about all the growling and snarling.)

No coffee. That's the Brick's job - I make horrible coffee. A strange menu, consisting of watermelon and cherries (both on sale at King Sooper's), mac and cheese, seafood salad, eggs, freezer burritos (25 cents each)..and dozens of gumballs. Extra-strong tea, plus a glass of iced grape juice now and then.

The Brick called. The guys are coming home a night early! They'll be home late Friday night.

     So glad. Maybe I can actually get some sleep.

I'm not griping. This is just the way life is right now. And finally, we are starting to make some progress. Which is wonderful...especially since the dumpster is going away on Monday.

    Life goes on.

Da-duh... Da-duh...

In honor of Shark month: Shark Attack Jello Shots All you need: blue jello, some gummy-type shark candies, a cup of rum and red dye. ...