Monday, January 23, 2017

The Strangest Moneymaking Tip Ever

Turn your windshield wipers on.

Yep, you read that right. The Brick started up the car this morning at work, turned on the wipers...and money began flying all over the place. Evidently it was tucked under the wiper blades.

He picked up eight dollar bills before he was through.

Did one of our egg customers leave us money? Nope. (I checked.) Did someone else owe us? Not that we know of. Maybe the cash was meant for someone else at the bus terminal -- and they got the wrong car.

We have no idea.

Or maybe it's:

A Note to Negatives

     If you read my "Monday Stuff" columns, you know that I wander about the Internet a lot. (More than I should sometimes, to my embarrassment.) Partly, it's to find good stuff for you, Gentle Readers. And partly I Just Enjoy Being Nosy.  A typical writer's stance, I guess. I'm the one sitting at the back table in the coffee shop, quietly listening and absorbing the conversations around me. It may not look like I'm paying attention -- but I am.
    By the way, I just realized that Blogger hasn't been notifying me about reader comments...there were 18 waiting! I've put some on the posts, and kept some (like yours, Barbara) to enjoy for myself.

I read a number of bloggers regularly. They're often traveling somewhere (like A Life By Design), figuring out ways to stretch their budget (A Thrifty Mom in Boise) or have a totally different life than my own (Tight Fisted Miser).

Some bloggers  are pretty radical (Short Little Rebel); some can be rude (Len Penzo -- especially his weekly 'Hot Coffee' diatribes). Some, like Money Beagle, share my Christian faith (and interest in frugality). Many do not.

Now and then, I post comments on these 'friends' blogs. Yes, I choose to think of them that way. Sometimes I agree with their viewpoint; sometimes not. But I try really hard to be as tactful as possible, when disagreeing. After all, it's their turf -- I'm just visiting.

I'm making you, Gentle Readers, a promise. Right here and now.

If you visit this blog regularly --

You. Will. Never. Be. Insulted. 

Or belittled.

Or condescended to.


You can disagree with me. In fact, I welcome the chance to hear other viewpoints on whatever subject we're talking about. You can even be obnoxious about it. (Just a little, I hope.)
      I will never treat you like an amiable idiot. Or brand you as scum, if you aren't this, that or the other thing. I just won't.


Let me hear from you now and then. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Hanging In There

     (I hope you are, too.)

Ever have that feeling?

     Maybe it's getting over the flu. Any energy dissipates quickly.

     Maybe it's finishing several jobs. (And having more to do.)

     Maybe it's our crazy weather. Up, down -- snow/none, warm/absolutely icicles. Bare ground, accented with lovely gray snowcrusts -- and an icy driveway. We're due for more snow early this week.

     Maybe it's a night or two of very little sleep. The Brick's hip has been acting up, and the poor guy was having trouble walking or getting comfortable. It's much better today (whew), but he spent the night thrashing around. Which meant I got about zippo sleep, too. Just before...

      a day I had to take care of my dogsitting responsibilities, get the car cleaned off...
               and still get to Worship Team practice at the crazy hour of 7:30 a.m. 

Think I'll make it to bed early. Tomorrow's bound to be better. As Frugal Mom in Boise points out, better to take it one day at a time.

Ten recently discovered secret caches. (From Listverse)

Best items scavenged in 2016, from the guy who does this for a living. (Things I Find In the Garbage)

'Super quick, super cheap' laundry detergent.  Gotta try this one.  (From Harvest Lane Cottage)

A woman gets thrown off a plane...for a very interesting reason!

Little money hacks that pay off.  (From

The winter mantel. Decorations for after the tree, before the spring flowers.  (From The Shabby Creek Cottage)

Popular kitchen pinterest posts.  (From Hometalk)

Dealing with increased electrical costs...this cold winter.  (From Living Rich on the Cheap)

De-cluttering in a post-apocalyptic world.  It's not what you think! (From the New Yorker)

Secrets the cruise ships didn't tell you.  (From Cruise Critic)

A floor...made from pennies?  And it looks wonderful.  (From Pretty Purple Door)

Helping Mrs. HB get control of her grocery budget -- Week Two. You read Part I last week; now the saga continues. (From One Hundred Dollars A Month)

A snowplow's forced off the road in Utah -- and heads 300 feet down the cliff. (The driver survived. Wow.)

Have a great week.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Group Cooking - On Limited Cash

I teased the Brick this morning: "Darn, you don't have to go cook for forty people today!" He looked at me through sleepy eyes and grinned -- because that's what he did last Saturday.

Our Seniors Program program at church regularly feeds 30-60 people monthly on a very strict budget: basically on what the seniors contribute and other people donate. That isn't much -- generally $50-100 a month for $$ donations. (One regular visitor's estate just gave the Senior Luncheons program $500 --it will be put to good use.)

So how do you do it?

I'll use our January menu to illustrate.

Three types of chicken wings:          Barbecue
                                                          Buffalo wings
                                                          Lemon and garlic

Three soups:    Split pea and ham
                        Colorado chili
                        Loaded baked potato

Carrots and celery sticks (to go with the ranch dressing for the buffalo wings)

Cake (different kinds) and whipped cream

Coffee & Tea

*Happily accept donations. Does one of the local farmers raise beef for sale? Ask them for a few pounds of beef -- you can stretch it in a soup or stew. Is the apple crop ready for picking? A quick mention, and the willingness to pick the fruit yourself, will easily get you a bushel for applesauce or apple cake. (Or apple, onion and sauerkraut with sausage.)
        In our case, the church donated coffee, tea and a big bottle of ranch dressing for the relishes. (Gotta have it for dipping buffalo wings, too.) The biggest 'give' this month was cake. Lots of it. (Leftover cake went to the Sunday meal at Open Door, one of the homeless shelters our church helps out at.)
        I also donated spices and bouillon from my personal stash.

*Keep it nutritious.  Protein, veggies and fruit, with careful attention to limiting fat and sugar.
                 (We paid attention to keeping the carbs basic, too.)

*Have options for allergies and special diets. One of the cakes, as well as the chicken wings and a soup, were no-gluten. Other cakes didn't include nuts. If we'd needed to, we could have included a no-egg cake, as well. Several of the dishes fit into diabetic diets.

*Do it homemade, wherever you can -- but use shortcuts, when you can afford them. Canned soups and bouillon cubes give you a jumpstart on gravies and soup. Canned tomatoes still have the color and zippy aroma that fresh ones provide.

*Keep it simple.  This is no time for elaborate garnishes -- unless you've got time, can get them on sale...or have them donated.

*Introduce similar flavor 'notes' throughout. Not only does it give your meal continuity -- you won't be wasting leftovers and trimmings. They'll go into the next dish.
      Case in point: the soups. A few carrots were diced and added to the pea soup for color and flavor; chicken bouillon in two of the three soups echoed the chicken wings. (If I'd had time, I would have used the celery and onion trimmings, along with a handful of chicken wings, to make homemade broth, instead.)  Garlic in the chili and baked potato soups echoed the wing flavors. Minced celery tops went into the potato soup.

*Everything's on sale -- or inexpensive, to start with.
                   Our month's main protein sources: (prices are rounded up, for ease)

       Chicken wings -- 50 cents a pound.
           (From the 40-pound special at the Friday/Sat store --  we used about 30 pounds)

       Diced ham and a hambone -- $1.49/lb for the ham (about a pound), and the bone was leftover

       Ground beef -- $2.99/lb for two pounds

       Split peas and Anasazi beans -- three pounds for a buck each
                        TOTAL:  $15 + 1.50 + 6.00 + 3.00 =  $25.50

*That means everything, sauces and sides included.

        Sauces -- 2 bottles barbecue ($1 each, from my stock)
                        1 bottle Frank's hot sauce  ($4, Fri/Sat store)
                        1 bottle garlic vinaigrette dressing  ($1.50, from my stock)
                        1 bottle lemon juice, half-used   ($3, Fri/Sat store)
                        garlic salt, chili spices
                          TOTAL:  $2 + $4 + $1.50 + $3 = $10.50

        Stuff for the soups -- 
                        #10 can crushed tomatoes ($2, Fri/Sat store)
                        6 onions  (10 cents a pound - 50 pound special)
                        5 pounds potatoes (20 cents a pound - on sale at Safeway)
                        3 pounds sour cream ($1/pound - Fri/Sat store)
                        1/2 pound grated Cheddar cheese  ($1.88, Safeway)
                        ready-cooked bacon  (half of a $12 pkg from Sam's Club)
                        4 chicken and 2 beef bouillon cubes (from my stash)
                        box of mushroom sauce (50 cents - Fri/Sat store)
                            TOTAL:  $2 + 40 cents + $1 + $2 + $6 + 50 cents =  $12.00
        large can spray whipped cream  ($5 at Safeway -- the only item in the entire meal not on sale)*

        Veggies -- 3 pounds celery sticks   ($3, Safeway)**
                         3 pounds carrot sticks    ($2.50, Safeway)**

                             TOTAL:  $10.50

*Why spray whipped cream, instead of the much-cheaper Cool Whip-style? Because the spray stuff lasts for weeks. (Cool Whip only hangs in there for a few days before it starts to taste funny.) It's made with real whipped cream. It's easier to serve quickly -- just a quick spritz. 
          And it tastes great.

**These weren't, either.

Finally -- the cakes.  We served carrot, spice, coconut, banana -- all 9 x 13s or 8" rounds.
                    Every one of these were donated -- a simple matter of asking people who were helping out to bring a cake, too.
       Coffee and tea, as well as ranch dressing, were donated by the church.
                          TOTAL:  $0

Grand Total:      $58.50               

TA-DA!  The Brick served 37 people = $1.58 each.

And that included leftovers:  at least 2 (large) meals of chicken wings and 3-4 (large) meals each of pea soup and chili. (Some of the helpers took home food, we had some -- and a container of chili went home with Daughter #1.) 
     The Brick could have easily accommodated 10-15 more people, using what was left over.
     If 50 people were served, instead, the grand total would have been a bare $1.17 each.

*Don't forget about decorations.
 Add some pillar candles (can be used at more than one lunch), a few packages of decorative napkins and a flower bouquet. (Break up and put a bloom or two on each table.) Even if you need to buy cake  (5 or  6 boxes of cake mix, a can or so of frosting, plus oil and eggs), you'll still come in under $2/person.

Recipes for the meal are here. Next time you have to feed a ton of people, try some of these ideas. They work!

Let's Play...

If you liked Oooh..., you'll love this one, too:

Or bowling balls!

For a more elegant look, keep the ice clear. Put your filled balloon in a bowl or jar, and fill with water. 
    Then when everything's frozen, remove the balloon and put a candle in the hollow. Like this:

Another idea: put a canning jar, weighted down with a rock, in a bucket. Add decorative branches, twigs and berries oround the jar, then fill with water. Let freeze. Thaw the ice enough to get it out of the bucket, and you've got a decorative lantern. Or two or three. 

This photo (and idea) came courtesy of Pinterest and  Chippy

This version substitutes large plastic cups for buckets

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Too, Too True...

I would laugh more at this...but it's hard to. I keep tripping in the hole Charley digs (and re-digs) by my clothesline.

The stinker.

Smoky Hill Quilt Club Fundraiser

I've been working with the Smoky Hill Quilt Club on their 2017 fundraising quilt:
                          "Spooling Around."

Gray octagons and squares, right? Take another look: it's actually scrappy-pieced Spool blocks. I am fascinated by the setting  -- it almost resembles an angular Double Wedding Ring. 

Heavy quilting includes plumes and all sorts of feathers, including double waving feather vines in the outer scrappy-pieced 'piano keys' border. One outer corner features an embroidered sashiko motif; another has a sewing machine. 

The Club will be awarding the quilt to the winner of a drawing later this year. Tickets are $1 each, or a bargain at 6 tickets for a cool fiver. Contact Sue Ewing ( if you're interested.