Sunday, August 31, 2008

Exhaustion

The garage roof is bare...sort of. It's been scraped clean, and we're starting to staple up the black tarpaper...two rounds of it before we got chased off, due to rain.

Daughter #1 was scraping away with me, talking about her new guy...and another kid, fresh from the Army reserves (and looking toward going to Iraq in 2010, a fact that doesn't seem to bother him...but did me) was shoveling away the extra bits and pieces.

Every part of me ached when we started, but somehow it wasn't so bad when we finished.

Except my wrists and hands.

It hurts to type.

Whine, whine.

We start on the house tomorrow. Daughter #1 is back for more punishment (I mean work), and hopefully our young Army friend will be there, too. Dave enjoys having a fellow military man to talk to. (Dave spent 6 years in the Navy, and comes from a military family.)Yes, we'll be laboring.

Have a happy restful Labor Day for yourself, though!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

We're Crazy Again!

Yes, we just got a raft of CRAZY QUILTS books back in stock...hooray!

And you can order your own copy at the Brickworks website,
http://www.cindybrick.com/

It's cheaper than Amazon, and through Sept. 10, you'll also get a dozen ribbon roses, thrown in for the heck of it.

How can that be beat?

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Don't forget -- you can also win a dozen ribbon roses just by commenting on any post from Aug. 20 through Sept. 5. We'll draw a winner randomly on the 5th. Let's hear from you!

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And don't think you won't be hearing from me this Labor Day weekend, because I'm luxuriating on vacation. Labor Day still finds us jam-packed with tourists, and having the Democratic convention here this week hasn't helped matters any. (Crowded, crowded, crowded whenever you try to use the highway through or go downtown at all.)
Plus, there's THE ROOF. So if you think I'm out camping or snoozing, well...
you've got another think coming.

John McCain's VP Pick -- Sarah Palin

Whoa. A woman? And a woman whose power structure is in ALASKA?!?

Double whoa.

I have to admit -- McCain's stand on several areas has appealed to me, especially his conservative approach to taxes (and government's fingers in said taxes), plus his pro-life stance. I strongly believe in the latter, that a baby is a baby is a BABY long before it emerges from the womb. I find it hard to understand how someone can be prosecuted for murdering two people if they kill a pregnant woman -- but it doesn't 'count,' otherwise.

This having been said, Obama's approach on several areas has also appealed to me. I like the idea of change. I admire his matter-of-fact responses to his naysayers. (And thought he ran an especially dignified campaign against Mrs. Clinton, considering how nasty it could have gotten.)

McCain...Obama. Obama...McCain. Maybe we should go back to old times, when the top winner gets to be president, and the runner-up is vice president!

Ok. Yes. I know that's not going to happen.

So...I have to pick one candidate.

And the Republican party, which in the past has had more than its share of 'good 'ol boys' networks, now has a woman -- and an accomplished one, at that -- as its VP candidate?!? Running along with someone who has repeatedly stood up to the establishment and advocated his own strongly-held beliefs?

Wonders may never cease.

I applaud McCain's gutsy decision to choose Sarah Palin...a working mom, governor, environmental advocate...and to tell the truth, it makes me admire him (and her) even more.

Now let's see what happens in the coming months.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Go Buffs! Elk Steak and a Roof Update

College football season is almost here...ooh, I can feel it. Ralphie the Buffalo is practicing tearing across the stadium, trainers hanging futilely off her wake... pompoms are crashing, players are smashing. We watch the University of Colorado Buffaloes games -- as well as Michigan's Wolverines. Both are our alma maters. Dave's for the former, but Daughter #1 goes there, too -- both Dave and yours truly for the latter. Boy, I love college ball. It's cool, brisk -- and unlike pro ball, you never know what will happen. Championships and games' outcomes have revolved around one pass, one penalty, one well-placed kick. The drama -- the excitement!

And the heartburn.

The Buffs play their arch rivals, Colorado State, on Sunday. GO BUFFS!!!!! And if you're in the West, take a gander at the beginning of the game. That first run of Ralphie's is a stitch.

Tonight's supper is braised elk tenderloin with onions. I almost can't cook it...elk is one of the tastiest, leanest meats out there, and this is one of the very few packages we have left. Dave didn't get any animals last year, and he's going with me to Quilter's Gathering this fall, instead of doing Colorado's 'third season.' A pot of antelope chili after piling wood on a snowy day... elk swiss steak, bubbling in mushroom gravy...these will just be tasty memories soon.

And the Roof update? The west side of the garage roof is BARE!!! Maybe it's that we're starting to know what we're doing...maybe it's just sheer dumb luck. But we took off a third of the roof shingles in just a few hours on the west side early this morning.

Tonight starts the east side. Then hopefully this weekend: the house!

P.S. In case you're wondering...Ralphie is a girl. Always has been.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sales and Soliloquies

On the best coupons/savings blog in the world, http://www.moneysavingmom.com/ , a reader mentioned she'd found books at 75% off at Kroger's. Hmmm...we don't have Kroger's out here in Colorado, but King Soopers is owned by the same corporation.

And I did see (and get) some great books for my piano students at 50% off the other week...

We ran out of milk, and I made a quick trip to Soopers. Sure enough, the same table was now 75% off!

Not only that, but summertime glasses, trays, grills and a wide variety were also marked 75% off. I got some Christmas presents, as well. (I won't say what, because Daughter #1 occasionally reads this blog. But they were Good Stuff.)

Didn't get home until after midnight. But my present box is full!

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Don't miss this very thoughtful post on Salon.com --what it feels like to go to a soup kitchen:

http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2008/08/18/heather_ryan/index.html

I don't think Heather Ryan's reasons for going are entirely as forced as she tries to make them sound. (More on this below.) But her account is surprisingly descriptive, and certainly conveys the desperation she felt.

What surprised me, though, was her lack of initiative in finding other food sources. She's a clever, well-reasoned writer. Couldn't she have done some research, tried other options? (According to Ryan, her income was too high for food stamps...many people, myself included, would be wayyy too proud to accept those, anyways, unless we'd exhausted every other possibility.)

She could have:
*Taken advantage of marked-down items at the store (I just checked the bins last night at Soopers -- and another girl was right behind me, doing the same thing.)

*Purchased bulk items or cooked from scratch more. Oatmeal and other lower-cost items would stretch her budget. She could have also baked her own bread, purchased fruit from an orchard or farmers market...

*Grown her own vegetables and greens, either in pots or a garden plot. (And if you can't do it outside, you can definitely grow sprouts. Frugal Babe has talked a lot about this lately:
http://frugalbabe.com/2008/08/25/the-cheapest-health-food/

I'm not that big on her enthusiasm for 'green smoothies.' (Ergh) But sprouts do wake up a sandwich or stir-fry, and they're jumping with vitamins.

*Used the Share program, which is a godsend. Order a package of different foods, including meats, fruits and veggies that's 3-5 times the value of the price you pay: $25 or less. Our version is called Share Colorado, but it's active in plenty of other states. Find out more at
http://www.sharecolorado.com/

Angel Food Ministries sounds very similar. Although I've never tried this program, I've heard good things about it. Perhaps it's available in your hometown, when the Share program isn't:
http://www.angelfoodministries.com/

"Right," someone may say. "Take a potshot at the girl when she's down. After all, you don't know what it's like. You never had a near-empty pantry, no money and kids to feed."

Oh, but I did. Not now, not for years...but trust me. I know.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Lessons Learned

Fall is coming.

The grassy areas are gradually turning a soft tan-gold. Pike's Peak, far off in the distance, doesn't wear its familiar cap of snow yet...but it won't be long. Here and there, a tree begins to mix gold in with its customary green.
Air's cool, with a hint of crispness.

I'm not sure if I would have put it all together...if I wasn't spending so much time de-shingling twenty or so feet up in the air.

The garage's west roof is about 2/3 clean. Why are we yanking the shingles OFF, rather than just shingling over them? Easy. Code says you can only have two layers...and we've got those already. That means everything comes OFF before the new stuff comes ON.

Sigh.

I've noticed some other things:

*The boards near the roof's peak have big holes and gaps -- enough to make you tremble when realizing you've been tromping over them! I thought these were the sign of a sloppy carpenter back in the 1960s, who covered up his hastiness with paper and shingles. He thought no one would ever know -- but forty years later, we found out.
THEN I talked to my dad, who tells me not only was that typical of old-time woodworkers...but the folks' 200-year-old barn shows the same thing! Turns out these gaps were meant to keep the roof flexible and give it what Dad calls "breathing room."
I guess you just make sure you don't walk anywhere near the peak!

*The power of two-- The same carpenter used a duet of nails at shingle joins, over and over. I can't budge both, even with a pry bar, unless I really work at it. On the other hand, if one nail is a little loose, it's a snap to pull it out. Then I can easily take out the second nail next to it.
Hmm...marriage. If I stand firm by Dave, the two of us can stand up to a lot more than if we try to handle things separately.

Oh, and I also learned that if you slide down a roof...you get a nail in the butt. Ouch.


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From the "Stupidity is Not Rewarded" Department:

The New Yorker who spends hundreds of dollars EACH WEEK on lottery tickets...and is cheezed off when his friend the doorman wins instead:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/22/nyregion/22super.html?_r=1&scp=6&sq=lottery&st=cse&oref=slogin

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Oh, the Indignity of It All...

I have a shameful confession to make:

Candy cigarettes? I love 'em.

Maybe it was the secret naughtiness. If I held them just right, someone might think I was actually SMOKING!

Maybe that almost-gum, almost-chalk texture.

Maybe the joy of biting off the 'filter,' then chomping through the 'tobacco' while your teeth turned pink.

They're not too popular today -- in fact, Amazon tends to offer them at discount prices, compared to other candies. But they were a favorite of mine as a kid. (And no, I didn't then, nor do I now smoke.)

Joe Posnaski fanned out on his childhood pleasures -- and whether they tasted the same today:

http://joeposnanski.com/JoeBlog/2008/07/29/pixifoods-part-i/

'Ol Joe isn't too big on candy cigarettes...but what can I say. Are they still just as good today? I haven't tasted one since I was 12. Maybe I should order a pack (or two) and find out.

Other foods I loved as a kid, but feel kind of weird about today:
*Laughy Taffy -- that stuff can take out a filling in no time flat. Slo-Pokes, same. (In fact, we used to eat both when we had a loose tooth that needed redeeming by the Tooth Fairy.)
*Necco Wafers -- the website says this is the oldest American candy, produced continuously since 1847 (wow!) What can I say -- they still taste gritty. Ditto for those Pepto-Bismol pink candy wafers my grandma's next door neighbor doled out.
*Jawbreakers -- the whole concept is kinda scary. After all, they nearly broke a tooth or two!
*Licorice ropes -- you got a lot for your money...who cared then how they tasted.
*Chocolate-covered peanuts -- this was my mom's favorite present when she came home from the Big City (Grand Rapids, MI). Somehow today, the chocolate tastes 'fake.' Maybe my taste for dark chocolate did it? (and the bridge mix is WAYYYY too sweet.)

But some kids' foods are still beloved, like Baby Ruths, Mounds bars, York Peppermint Patties and my hands-down favorite: Bazooka bubble gum. (sigh) Nothing like one of these and a hot cup of coffee on a dreary, gloomy afternoon. (Yes, even the gum!)

What's your favorite childhood candy? Do you still like it today?

Tell me...and you'll be eligible for a free dozen ribbon roses -- winner drawn Sept. 5!

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From the "It Figures" Department:
(and the book Billion Dollar Lessons: What You Can Learn From the Most Inexcusable Business Failures of the Last 25 Years [Portfolio])

According to Paul B. Carroll and Chunka Mui, the authors, 75% of post-WWI mail pilots died in air crashes while they were doing their job. The mortality rate eased considerably when the Postal Service required supervisors to ride along with the same employees they ordered to fly during bad weather!

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Roof update, Day #2: Half of garage roof in absolute shambles; most of the shingles off, with bare wood showing. Unfortunately, whoever built the garage in the 1960s cheated, and cobbled together thinner planks, as well as some with large holes, for the topmost beams. Then they just papered (and shingled) over the gaping holes and crappy wood.

Thanks to these wonderful craftsmen, we get to stop and replace some beams! Dave will do that tonight, while I keep at the shingles. Great for destructive tendencies.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Up On the Roof

Picture two bleary figures in sweatshirts and jeans, banging away in the early morning freshness. Yes, it's me and Dave, tearing away shingles at 7 in the morning. (Our poor neighbors.) We've started on the roof, and it's like archeology -- dig down through the layers (3 of them) to the bare wood. Fascinating. The bottommost layer, c.1965, is definitely some kind of asphalt, but has a woodgrain' pattern I wish we could find today.

Bang bang bang. I have a hammer and a pry bar; Dave swaggers under a toolbelt. We start at each end of the garage, yanking on the topmost layer. It's tight on there, and bits of shingle fly everywhere. I make a tidy pile of nails and throw the shingle bits on the ground below. The dogs stare at them in astonishment, then up at me: Mom, what the heck are you doing up there?!?

Dave goes faster than I do, and I try to speed up. My hands are trembling with the effort. (We're both going to lose some weight out of this.) Finally he reaches where I am, then he begins pulling the next layer of shingles off, using a specialized 'shovel.' Bigger chunks fly off the roof; some stick in the gutters. (By now, both dogs don't even look up.)

8:30 in the morning. Time for Dave to get a shower and head to work...and my 'regular' day, too. Last night, we were supposed to begin, but an inch of hail and two tornadoes happened, instead. We'll be back up tonight until dark -- the huge dumpster is only here for a few weeks, and both roofs -- the garage, the house -- must be done before it goes.

Free Giveaway for My 150th!!

It's hard to believe-- time has gone by so quickly. But sometime this week, I'll be putting on the 150th post of 2008! To celebrate, I want to give out Brickworks' special for this month -- a dozen ribbon roses maybe to YOU, free! Any time you add a comment to this post, or any other post before September 5, you're eligible. On the 5th, I'll put your names in a hat, and draw one. The winner gets a dozen roses sent to their snail mail address.

This is just the start of more '50s' specials -- yours truly turns 50 in late September, and there will be more giveaways to celebrate...

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

I'm Back

...and exhausted.

Came home to Dave and a new wheelbarrow! Hey, a girl's got to get excited about something...

A big thunderstorm and an inch of hail kept us from pulling shingles tonight...so we put in an hour or so of work early tomorrow morning before Dave leaves for work.

A HUGE dumpster is filling the driveway, giving me visions of getting rid of that crappy old sofa in the garage and umpteen other irritating items, as well as the shingles.

Tune in tomorrow for a report on the Festival, and a NEW giveaway you'll love!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Weekend Roundup

Just a few hours before leaving for the Rocky Mountain Quilt Festival...

Sourdough bread is baking in the oven. (Lots of pb & js for Dave while he starts The Roof...and suffers through food this weekend. The man hates to cook.)

Dishes piled in the sink.

Piles here and there, waiting for stuffing into bins.

The garden needs watering. The dogs need feeding. And all I can think of is --

The dingbats who tried the Georgia Bigfoot business now say "It was all a big joke."

http://news.aol.com/article/bigfoot-hoaxers-say-it-was-a-big-joke/144328?icid=100214839x1208215627x1200416333

"Now the two Georgia men admit that the hairy, icy blob was an Internet-purchased Sasquatch costume stuffed with possum roadkill and slaughterhouse leftovers."

Great. Now I have a mental image I never wanted in the first place...

To top things off, one of the men (a policeman) lost his job. His boss said that now he'd got caught in a lie nationally, DAs could always question his penchant for the truth.

Frugal-for-Life explains that free things should still have a value -- or they're not worth it.

http://frugalforlife.com/free-items-must-have-value/

I have a habit of grabbing things just because they're there for the taking -- then they take up space. A good reminder, this!

The head mommy at Frugal Hacks has a fascinating take on hard times -- don't miss her memory of 'popcorn parties:'

http://frugalhacks.com/2008/08/22/the-intangibles/

Get a free sample of Cascade dishwashing detergent, plus (the best part!) a Mr. Clean eraser sample:

http://instoresnow.walmart.com/enhancedrendercontent_ektid49156.aspx

I've heard great great things about the eraser...now I can find out for free!

And one of the funniest "Whose Line Is It Anyways" schticks I've ever seen. (Warning: it's rude!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkKDW7XR-lQ

Bread's done. Time to finish packing. Off to work...

Have a great weekend. I'll be back on Sunday.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Taking A Mental Rest

...try Kathy's blog:

http://www.kathyscottage.blogspot.com/

She is serene and graceful, even in the middle of what obviously can be a hectic life. Her decorations and crafts have a certain quality about them -- and you can buy her work via etsy, as well. (Take a look on her blog's sidebar.)

I'm getting ideas already.

I even went and looked up her December posts -- hey, still on the Christmas thing -- including a wonderful photo of white feather trees surrounded by drifts of white and mother-of-pearl buttons. Beautiful in a dainty, frosty way.

What a relaxing break, even while I'm sweating through these two quilts I'm finishing up restoring. I stitch and stitch and STITCH, through 'Cold Case,' 'Law and Order' and umpteen hours of the Olympics. Someday very soon, I hope to send them on their way. They need to go, for both the client's sake (who has been very patient) -- and mine.

If these quilts don't leave, there may be someone running down the street, screaming and throwing needles and fabric bits everywhere....while she hums Christmas carols!

It All Makes Sense When You're A Mom

I get such a kick out of Velveteen Mind's kids --

http://www.velveteenmind.com/velveteenmind/2008/08/engaged-and-und.html

Basically, Son #2 is marrying his fellow nursery school mate, Evelyn, because she's a perfect wife -- she knows how to "run fast." (!!!) And during the the wedding, he's going to hire a "dancing pig," so Evelyn's mom will have someone to dance with.

Daughter #2 used to play this little game, only she was married to a circus dwarf. Every time they had a kid, she'd throw them in the backyard. That yard was getting pretty cluttered after a while! :) She's now 20, and I still enjoy bringing up her 'husband,' if only to watch her roll her eyes and humor Mom.

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You'll find me Saturday and Sunday at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Festival in Loveland, CO...exhibits, classes, lectures -- come and visit! Admission is only $5 for each day; download a $2 coupon for both days.

It's at the Ranch (Larimer County Fairgrounds Complex). Here's the place for more information:

http://www.roundbobbin.com/RMQS-index.html

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My Own Bigfoot Story

It's a glorious sunny day, and the flower garden is blooming like mad...but this indefinable hint is in the air. A slight coolness...an edge to the wind... fall is definitely coming.

I can't wait!

We have a roof to re-do, both on the garage and the house. At least it won't be sweltering while we're starting, sometime this weekend. I'll have a chance to watch fall sweep across the valley and curl about the buttes while we're up high(er).

And to do this job, we got something I've always wanted -- a nail gun!

Bigfoot Watch:

I have never personally seen the Big Fellow (darn) although I've heard some strange calls late at night a few times. (BF has been spotted less than ten miles from us, however. More on this in a bit.)

I did, however, have a strange experience with one of his admirers. Some years ago, I was teaching a class in Stevenson, WA, an area very familiar with BF sightings. To relax the class, I started teasing that we couldn't start until BF got there.

"Oh, he's not here right now." This, very matter-of-factly by a lady in the front row.

"What?" (me, looking slightly confused)

"The hunters are here right now. He'll be back after they leave."
(using the same tone as for a neighbor on vacation)

!!!!!!!

I found out later that my commenter's husband was a sheriff who patrolled the area. Did he see BF while out on his rounds? Was BF a regular in their backyard?

I'll never know -- the lady refused to say anything else. But her comments made it clear; Bigfoot was neither unfamiliar nor frightening.

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A road heads up through nearby Sedalia toward the mountains, and it's along this that Bigfoot has been most spotted. (At least, that's where the reports have come from.) One of Dave's bus driving buddies told me the following story:

She had just done the morning's run, and was headed back down the mountain. The road is lined with a series of gullies and ditches, and she noticed what she described as a "hunter in a long fur coat" crouched down in one of these ditches. Several things flashed through her mind --

*why was there a hunter out this early, anyways? It wasn't hunting season.
*why was he even wearing a fur coat? (Camouflage clothing and day-glo vests are standard procedure for hunters here in Colorado.)
*why did the fur coat cover him all over?
*who was he hiding from? (He was making obvious efforts not to be seen.)


and -- this guy was BIG.

When she came back through later in the morning, the "hunter" was gone.

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Yes, we're on this road, on occasion. (In fact, we had supper Sunday night with friends who live just off it. No, they haven't seen anything of Our Friend.) Someday, I'm hoping, we'll watch something dash across...or move stealthily by the side of the road. Or...

Until then, I wait. And hope.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bigfoot Update

Well peoples, the sad news has surfaced:

the infamous Georgia Bigfoot is nothing more than a rubber ape costume.

Read about it here:

http://www.searchingforbigfoot.com/

...and for those of you who are saying, 'I told you so,' well...

I don't want to hear about it.

BF's still out there somewhere!

Breaking News on the Bigfoot Front!

I've mentioned my hobby of collecting Bigfoot sightings -- that strange half-man half-gorilla hairy that roams the backwoods, mountains and deserted areas of the world. Although Bigfoot has been sighted many times, and left footprints and hair samples, only a few blurry photos and movies exist of this elusive creature.

Things started looking up when two guys claimed to have found the body of a Sausquatch in a Georgia forest:

http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/08/15/bigfoot.body/?iref=hpmostpop

"We were not looking for Bigfoot. ... We wouldn't know what we were doing if we did," said Matthew Whitton, one of the two men. "I didn't believe in Bigfoot at the time. ... But you've got to come to terms with it and realize you've got something special. And that's what it was."

Although their story is intriguing, there were a few sticking points. First, the men told three different stories about how they came by the body. Second, the 'body' looks like a gorilla costume jammed in the box. Put Xes on the eyes, and it would almost look like a cartoon. (Take a look at the photo in the report, and you'll see what I mean.)

Third, the men were being promoted by a guy who'd promoted fake Bigfoot sightings in the past. Whitton and the other man, Rick Dyer, said the skepticism didn't matter -- they'd prove the body was real. They'd allow samples from the carcass to be tested.

Well, here are the results of the DNA analysis:

Sample #1: human
Sample #2: opossum (96% probability)

Here's the report --

http://www.shortnews.com/start.cfm?id=72800

"Tom Biscardi, host of a weekly online radio show about the Bigfoot, said the samples may have been contaminated, and plans on going forward with an autopsy of the 'body'." The report also mentions that Whitton and Dyer just happen to own a company that sells Bigfoot merchandise. (I'm sure that's a 'coincidence,' too.)

And Bigfoot is belting out that strange scream/laugh somewhere in the Georgia pines right now:

http://www.oregonbigfoot.com/sounds.php

Monday, August 18, 2008

Food Solutions for Hectic Days

I found an outstanding post in Simple Dollar's archives --

http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2007/02/27/im-too-tired-to-cook-at-home-dining-solutions-for-the-overworked-family/

These suggestions - and recipes - are so easy, you'll want to try them on non-busy days, too. Don't forget the reader comments; they've also got some great ideas.

Trent's also posted five excellent Crock Pot-based recipes:

http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2007/03/20/by-request-five-essential-crock-pot-recipes/

It's slowly getting chillier here every day...we jumped quickly from summer to almsot-fall. The bratwurst & kraut version will be great some day soon!

5 Ways to Stretch What's In Your Fridge A Little Further

*MILK AND DAIRY PRODUCTS: tastes great, price has skyrocketed in recent months. Strreeettcch whole milk by adding 3-4 cups of water. You won't notice in taste, and calories plus fat content will drop at the same time. I recently asked Daughter #1 whether she'd noticed any difference in the three-plus years I've been doing this. She said, "You've been stretching the milk??"

Sour cream and cheese can still be used, even after they've started to grow a little green. As my dad takes great delight in pointing out, they're technically made by spoiling milk in the first place! Just trim off or scoop out the nasty stuff and use them. Sour cream is wonderful stirred into soup, rice or mashed potatoes just before serving. (Do it early on, and the cream tends to curdle.)

And the cheese? One great way to use it is
Refrigerator Mac & Cheese:
While you're boiling a half-pound of macaroni, melt 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine in a second pan. Add a few tablespoons of flour...then 1/2 cup - 1 cup of milk. (Off-taste milk works for this, too.)
Stir milk into the butter/flour mixture, then add grated or chunked cheese. (I tend to clean out whatever bits and pieces I've got leftover in the meat bin. One recent version included Cheddar, Monterey Jack, a square of cream cheese and a slice or two of an ancient Gouda.) Also add a teaspoon of dry or liquid mustard, a couple shots of hot sauce...and grind in some salt and pepper.
Stir the sauce until the cheese is melted. The macaroni should be done...drain it and mix the two together. You're done! Serves 4.

My girlies love this so much that they ask for it on their birthdays.

*VEGGIES: great for salads...and SOUP. Don't waste a scrap. No matter what. If you're making a sauce, try mincing those last few green beans or that shred of celery. Toss it in -- the sauce will be the better for it. A casserole of something else utilizes these bits nicely...or chop and add them to rice.

Or keep a covered bowl in the frig for those bits and pieces. Chop them wholesale, then add chicken broth and noodles for a wonderful soup.

This isn't just for basics like carrots, celery, broccoli...salad greens work for this, too!

*MEAT: too expensive to waste. See above. Don't waste a scrap. Slip in the bits and pieces into your other dishes...or save them for soup. A handful of meat in a sauce, poured over spaghetti, rice and noodles, qualifies as a Main Entree.

*JAMS, PRESERVES & JUICES: Smoothies make maximum use of these! Be sure to rinse out the bottles and jars with a little water, to get maximum use. (This is especially true for jam.) For a great smoothie, blenderize 5-7 ice cubes, the rinsed-out contents of a jam jar or juice bottle, 1 cup fruit, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1- 1 1/2 cups milk. (A spoonful or two of yogurt in the mixture tastes great, too.)

*PICKLES: Pickles gone? Save the juice! Slice 2-3 cucumbers thinly and drop into the pickle jar, then let them marinate in the fridge for 2-3 days. Voila -- you've got more pickles! (Sliced onion rings and mushrooms work for this, too.)

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Welcome to the Frugal Blog Roll!

Yes, I'm now a member!

This roll call has some of the most inventive, helpful blogs out there, including my favorites Get Rich Slowly, Moneysaving Mom, LentilsandRice and LikeMerchantShips.

Scroll down through the list on the right-hand side of the home page, click on whatever looks interesting --

...and enjoy!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Exhaustion

This is now the third weekend I've spent doing a quilting/appraisal gig. Today I spent the afternoon at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum, showing curious people how to 'Hanky Panky,' and do the 'Light Speed' method in my CRAZY QUILTS book.

It went better than yesterday -- we've had three days of rain in a row, downright amazing for Colorado, and basically everyone stayed home. I felt like some kind of "creeper" (my girlies' name for a stalker who has designs on you)..."psst. Hey, over here! Wanna learn some Hanky Panky?" (And no, I didn't wear a trenchcoat.)

One more weekend to go --this one at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Festival. I'm sure it will be fine...but I am really, really missing the relaxing Sunday afternoons I used to know.

Plus the nap.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Good Dog!

Friend Jo just took me to the most amazing fundraiser tonight -- a $300-plus affair in a huge tent with everyone dressed in Expensive Wannabe Cowboy (complete with boots), and jamming to Patti LaBelle. At 64, that woman is just amazing...she hits her high notes in a way that I'm SURE Frank Sinatra could only dream of at that age.

And she can still boogie. Boy, can she...and everyone in the tent was dancing along with her.

The fundraiser was sponsored by Fred and Janna Bartlett in honor of their dog Lulu -- for the Dumb Friends League. After the auction, a whole parade of animals for adoption was brought up on stage...the dogs, little ones, all looked terrified. The cats were blase about the whole thing. (I'm guessing there was some medical-calming-down for the cats...but the two kittens that did best were actually deaf. Worked for them.)

The good news is that everyone had a good time -- and all the animals got adopted. What a night!

While I'm recovering from the noise and racket, you'll enjoy this little guy:

http://www.idodogtricks.com/index_flash.html

Type in any kind of trick you know...and generally, he'll do it. (Wait until the end to put in 'kiss.')

-------------------------------------------------
And how about that Michael Phelps!! More gold medals that ANYONE in Olympic history, including more (8 as of tonight) than anyone in one Olympics alone! What a guy. And what did he say when he finished?

"'I don't even know what to feel right now,' Phelps said. "There's so much emotion going through my head and so much excitement. I kind of just want to see my mom."

Debbie Phelps was sitting in the stands at the Water Cube, tears streaming down her cheeks, her two daughters by her side. After getting his gold, Phelps quickly found his family, climbing through a horde of photographers to give all three of them a kiss."

Read all about it here:

http://sports.aol.com/olympics/story/_a/bbdp/phelps-wins-his-incredible-eighth/136631?icid=100214839x1207428276x1200416599

Michael, guess you're the Big Dawg!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Hail to the Queen

(with a bow to my Brit friend, David, who is convinced that we Yanks are just rude, rebellious buggers)

Queen Victoria's bloomers just sold for $9,000! The Queen of England (1819-1901), whose reign just kissed the 20th century, was five feet tall...and four feet-plus wide.

Read it here:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080730/ap_on_en_ot/britain_victoria_s_bloomers

Her chemise (with a 66-inch bust - what a big girl!) sold for $8,000...and her nightie for $11,000.
The items, which date from the 1890s, came from a family whose ancestor had been lady-in-waiting to the Queen.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Doing the Happy Dance...Again

Had enough of Matt Harding's zany dancing yet?

I hope not, 'cause here are his outtakes:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tT8jA_pps3o&NR=1

And here are more videos, from his website:

http://www.wherethehellismatt.com/videos.shtml

don't miss his dance with the Huli Wigmen...prime stuff.


This just makes me grin...and after today, fighting allergies, ennui and a near-overpowering urge to Just Lay Down --

well, I just need it.

Hopefully you do, too.

CRAZY QUILTS Has Been Excerpted!

If you'd like to see more of my newest book, CRAZY QUILTS, here's the place to visit:

http://www.quiltropolis.net/articles/crazy-quilts.asp

It's a taste that incorporates several ideas...and hopefully will give you an appetite for more!

We're currently out of books -- the first edition has been sold out for months now -- but are expecting a fresh batch early next week.

$23.95 gets you the book -- yours truly's signature -- and free media rate shipping!

Just visit me at the Brickworks website http://www.cindybrick.com/ , and I'll tell you how to order.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

For the Christmas Nut in You...

Take a look at this blog, dedicated to Christmas all year round.

and my favorite post, dedicated to the non-importance of Stuff:

http://maryellenb.typepad.com/o_night_divine/2007/12/gifts-n-stuff.html

Good advice for right now, when we seem to be wading through boxes everywhere...I'm in the throes of packing up/putting away, all the time aware that I have to go demo for the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum in Golden this weekend...

http://www.rmqm.org/events.htm (for those of you coming, I'll be at the RMQM tent from 12-4 p.m. on Saturday, and 1-4 p.m. on Sunday)

and teach at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Festival in Loveland next weekend:

http://www.roundbobbin.com/RMQS-index.html

Which means getting out yet More Stuff. (sigh)

Doing the Happy Dance

wouldn't you like to travel 42 countries, thousands of miles...just for fun?

Matt, a 31-year-old, accomplished just that. His YouTube offering is one of the most cheerful, inspiring, just plain FUN videos I've seen...

Enjoy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlfKdbWwruY

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Great Steak -- With Not-So-Great Cuts

Just learned an amazing new way to make tender, juicy steak out of bargain cuts...

You...

(drum roll)

salt the heck out of it 15 min - 1 hour before you cook it!

I'm not making this up. Lay the meat out. Salt it heavily, or until it looks like it's been snowing at Chez Vous. (You can also add chopped herbs like rosemary, basil, sage, etc. at this point.) Now let sit. Just before you're ready to cook it, rinse the salt off. Grill, bake or fry as usual.

Somehow the salt breaks down tough fibers and makes them tender...yum!

And no, the steak doesn't taste extra salty.

Here's the step-by-step process:

http://lowcarbdiets.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?zi=1/XJ&sdn=lowcarbdiets&cdn=health&tm=26&gps=564_747_1276_632&f=10&su=p674.5.336.ip_&tt=2&bt=1&bts=0&zu=http%3A//steamykitchen.com/blog/2007/08/28/how-to-turn-cheap-choice-steaks-into-gucci-prime-steaks/

An Invisible Quilt?

I am fascinated by one of science's newest goals: to perfect a cloak that literally shields the viewer from being noticed. Visually, that is. Our human eyes view images, based on the light rays that bounce off those things. With this invention, the light would literally flow around the viewee, much as water just keeps going past a rock or pebble -- keeping it from being viewed clearly. (Though in this case, the item would literally 'disappear' from view under the flow.)

Monty Python's "How Not to Be Seen" people would be proud.

Here's the latest on the subject:

http://www.comcast.net/articles/news-general/20080811/SCI.Invisibility.Cloak/

Scientists already worked out how to shield thin two-dimensional objects...now they're on the way to finishing off three-dimensional ones!

Obviously, the U.S. government is very, very interested in this 'invisible cloak,' for military reasons. But the quilter in me keeps thinking what a cool idea it would be to use this fabric in a quilt! (Sort of a 'holes' effect.)

Wonder if they'll have any scraps left over?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Thinking Christmas

Probably because it's been so hot in recent memory, I've thought more about the holidays...somehow, reading Christmas stories or watching a movie makes it seem cooler around here.

Obviously, I'm not the only one:

http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2006/12/07/the-amazing-frugal-christmas-savings-spectacular/

There are some great ideas here, especially in the comments -- it may help you save some money, too!

Yesterday was a trudge in endurance -- get up early for worship team practice (after I'd just gotten home the evening before from Cheyenne), do a full morning of services at church. (Including two different sets of music) Rush out of church -- run home and get the lunch (and birthday cake) I'd made the night before (post-Cheyenne), as well as the presents (ditto).

Go to Rockies ballgame. (Unfortunately, the Padres stomped 'em 15-7. Our beloved Rocks are not doing so well right now.) Stay for a Steven Curtis Chapman concert post-game...then take Jess and her sister out for supper to celebrate Jess's birthday this weekend.

But wait! We're not done yet. Drive to Boulder (about 30 min.) to help Jess move. Go up and down two flights of stairs, plus a long trudge across the building -- load after load until the Jeep is filled. Do this twice, now sweat-soaked shirt clinging to you with each step.

Now drag Jess's bedsprings and mattress down same, load them on the Jeep top, and everybody takes a corner for the ride to the new place. (By this time, it's raining.) Drag them down, carry inside. Look at the clock -- it's midnight.

Drive Jess back to her old place...then Angel has to go home to Nederland (45 min. drive) Drop Angel off just before 1:00 a.m. Guess what? Now you get to go home!

We finally made it back about 2:30 a.m., Dave driving all the way, and me talking about ANYTHING to keep him awake. Fell into bed.

Today, the achiness and fatigue that's pestered us both all weekend seems to be developing into something. I can't seem to get warm, and stuff went hazy and gray during an afternoon out with a friend this afternoon. In the low 90s again, but it doesn't seem to matter -- I get chills, anyways. Dave is right behind me.

I'll get to bed earlier tonight, thankfully. Who knows -- maybe it's a 24-hour bug.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Electricity...and Another Birthday

I'm back! Have been appraising in Cheyenne, WY for the past two days at the Cheyenne Heritage Quilters Guild show there. Whoa, it was fun...and I met (and re-met) some of the nicest people in the country this weekend.

The guild had an interesting dilemma -- a flash flood earlier in the week took out the Civic Center's electricity. So they were getting it literally from large extensions connected to the building next door! Weird...but it worked, in spite of having to ask permission every time you used an outlet for something. The guild actually had to hang the quilts in the dark, though there was (mostly minimal) light to see the quilts by during the actual show.

Wow. Now that's dedication!

I fought my way home tonight through a crowd of bikers heading home from Sturgis, and another crowd pulling speedboats, campers, etc. etc. An accident and five miles of construction made the trip especially fun.

Tomorrow we head to a Rockies game...with the girlies.

NOTE NOTE NOTE NOTE:

Happy Belated Birthday, Jess! You, my darling, will always be my 'first girlie,' 22-year-old that you are...and I love you.
Mom

Happy Birthday!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

And An Addendum...

I know, I know...

but you must read this guy's series of "$50-and-under" posts, plus his attempt to live on $30 for a month of food:

http://www.timeout.com/newyork/articles/features/30168/man-can-live-by-bread-and-eggs-alone

NOW (hopefully) back to work!

Cheap Healthy Good

I am SUPPOSED to be working on Other Stuff...

but I got stuck reading Cheap Healthy Good's frugal posts!

http://cheaphealthygood.blogspot.com/search/label/Frugality

Warning: Don't even go there if you've got things to do...the duo is hilarious, and you'll be there along with me, snorting at their silliness.

Now back to...

Stormy Weather

For the past few days, something strange has been happening here in Castle Rock.

Water -- falling down from the sky! What is it, this strange moisture? A present from aliens? Some government conspiracy? Yet another example of global warming?

Or, could it be...RAIN??

The really strange storms here on the Front Range of Colorado -- blizzards, rain, whatever -- tend to sweep from north to south, rather than our usual "watch it coming from over the mountains west to east." (Once you see it, you have about 20 min. before it hits.) This storm was a doozy -- tornados in Denver and parts north, hail, you name it. What we got looked just like those videos of hurricanes. Sheets of water and wind battered the house on the north and south sides; but west and east were practically untouched!

Our whole side of the street lost power, though our neighbors' lights were still shining. Finally, about midnight, just as we were going to bed, it came back on. I was a little sad -- rainstorms are even more interesting by the light of an oil lamp.

This morning, the world looks like it got a good facewash. Everything is shining clean, if still a tad damp. I don't know if the mountains got fresh snow or not; they're still hiding behind a silver-gray shower curtain. Which means we'll probably get more rain tonight.

Oh goody!

I'm headed to Cheyenne, WY for a few days of appraising at the Cheyenne guild's annual show. While I'm gone, though, you'll want to read these posts on fascinating ways to save, beginning with 25 lessons from those paragons of respectability: the Simpsons.

http://cheaphealthygood.blogspot.com/2008/07/cutting-calories-and-saving-doh-25.html

And if you're willing to wade through Cheap Healthy Good's raptures on being (nearly) student loan-free, he has some terrific ideas on cutting your expenses -- fast -- to pay off debts and bills -- fast:

http://cheaphealthygood.blogspot.com/2007/09/when-food-frugality-pays-off-see-ya.html

And the best saved for last: Money Central's Smart Spending blog, which changes regularly, and has some terrific ideas -- it's just as good as http://www.walletpop.com/ and the "fantastic freebies" and "daily deals" sections. Which is going some.

http://blogs.moneycentral.msn.com/smartspending/

Enjoy...and I'll be back!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

More on the whole food stamps brouhaha, this time from Tight Fisted Miser, who actually was on food stamps for three months:

http://tightfistedmiser.com/2008/06/11/my-food-stamp-experience/

don't miss his followup, either -- and the comments are just as interesting as his post:

http://tightfistedmiser.com/2008/07/15/more-on-food-stamps/

Although we qualified, income-wise, for food stamps a year or two when Dave was sick, we never applied. (Share Colorado, being frugal and growing a garden got us through, instead.) The girlies did qualify for reduced-price lunches, but they didn't like to use those much, either...

Guess we come from a proud family that doesn't take advantage of this Unless We Absolutely Have To. (I'm seeing similar patterns now in the girlies, even when they're extremely short of money.)

P.S. Share Colorado is a wonderful program that lets you purchase a package of meats, veggies and fruit for an extremely reasonable price, especially in wintertime when fresh stuff is prohibitive. You can find out more about it here -- http://www.sharecolorado.com

Share Colorado serves not only CO, but Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota and Wyoming. I am certain that other states have similar programs.

Lookin At Life Cooler, Man

Finally, finally after week after week of 90-plus degrees, and only a few brief spits of rain...

this afternoon, we had a wonderful half-hour of rain and cooling wind.

Aaaahhhhh....

The dogs laid anywhere they wanted, instead of just under the fan --
I could pull weeds, and actually have them come out of the ground --
And we drank hot coffee this afternoon.

It was almost even chilly this evening!

And in the meantime, Denver broke the previous records for 90-plus-in-a-row days...set in 1878 and 1901.

I am not making this up.

If we don't get more rain in the next few weeks, we will be in for the hottest, driest summer ever recorded.

But I don't care right now. I am loving that rush of cool air...and the prospect of deep, restful sleep tonight.

Monday, August 4, 2008

State Wages, California Style

California state employees...more than 200,000 of them...now earn just minimum wage, thanks to an order signed by Governor Schwarzenegger. (That is, if the controller agrees to uphold Ah-nald's order...)

Why? Because California STILL has not okayed a budget.

See the specifics here:
http://www.chieffamilyofficer.com/2008/08/emergency-funds-another-example-of-why.html

Fascinating. This has happened before in Colorado, but on a much shorter timeline. One year, all government offices were shut down for a few days until the legislature got their (ahem) behinds in gear. Maybe the prospect of minimum wage will motivate some Californian heinies into motion.

Then again, maybe not.

The Quilt Teacher Ring Blog Rides Again!

I've added a new ring of buddies to my site -- a whole group of quilting friends who also teach nationally. They range all over the gamut, from my goofy (and extremely talented) friend Ami Simms, whose dedication to researching (and abolishing) Alzheimer's Disease has made me proud to be associated with her, to engineering and machine quilting wonder John Flynn (whose wife Brooke's wry wit makes me laugh!) to the head of the Ring, Karen Combs, whose quilts are one of the architectural wonders of the modern world.

Ahem.

I know what you're thinking. You're visualizing those creepy individuals with hair over their eyes who crawl out of television sets. And wells. And God knows what.

Naah...

These Ring members are extraordinary people. I know. I've shared meals and teaching duties and late-night coffee sessions and breakfasts with many of them. They're wonderful.

Take a minute and visit one or more of their sites...you'll gain new ideas and inspiration from just hanging out with them. (Again, I know from experience...)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Girlie Turns 20

Happy Birthday, Angel dear!

I'm not sure how 20 managed to creep up there...

but you will always be my darling girl.

Love you, Mom

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Get A Dozen Roses...Free!

A new special at Brickworks & Classy Girl:

For every $20 you spend, we throw in a dozen ribbon roses...free! This is a $5.95 value, and one of our most popular promotions. The best thing -- you'll get an extra dozen for every $20 you spend...for example, $21.95 is a free dozen, $40.50 is two dozen!

Take a look at http://www.cindybrick.com , and click from there to Classy Girl.

We've also got two -- yes, count 'em, two -- of the original CRAZY QUILTS books left. These copies not only have my signature, but that of Nancy Kirk, who wrote the Foreward. Considering how quickly these books sold out, I'm guessing that these books will be collector's items some day. They're $29.95...and that includes free shipping. You can find out more on the Brickworks websites (see above) -- or wait for the next edition, which should be out by the end of this month.

Celebrities are Frugal, Too?

...well, some of them are.

You'll find the Who's Who List of Cheapdom fascinating...Mick Jagger? Paul McCartney? Most of the stars mention a poor childhood, where they learned to save.

Take a look:

http://www.walletpop.com/specials/most-frugal-celebrities?icid=100214839x1206713043x1200360808

I've got a thing for hotel soap, myself. I confess -- I will set aside those little bars of soap and containers of shampoo, so I can take extras home. For one thing, they come in handy for future trips. For another, the soaps give a nice smell to your linens drawers.

When we took our 25th anniversary cruise last year, I came home with a drawerful! They were lovely reminders of a trip to the Caribbean...walks late at night on the ship's exercise circuit, watching the moonlight bounce off the waves. Sunbathing lazily while watching for the next stop. Anything I wanted to eat -- regardless! (Especially weird.) Movies in every language imaginable (or so it seemed). Palms and tropical fruit. Rain. (A rare treat right now -- yes, it's still blazing around here.) Those soaps, now nearly gone, weren't just freebies...they were memories.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Still Hot

Husband just came home: "Guess what? It's now past 100 degrees." At 6:00 p.m.

Needless to say, we're past 'toasty warm' and headed toward 'unbearably hot.'

Not much sleep again tonight...

I'm headed to watch "Mamma Mia" with some girlfriends tonight -- nope, the men didn't want to come. But you need to see Moolanomy's suggestions on saving money Right Now:

http://www.moolanomy.com/312/22-money-maximizing-moves-you-can-do-today/

Granted, some of them are paying bills you'd only have to pay in 2009, anyways...but this is a very practical approach to helping cut down on taxes -- and fees -- today! Certainly if you're in the middle of extra money in the checking account, it wouldn't be a bad idea to get some of these Over With.

Now I'm off to sing along with Meryl Streep and Abba...

Mousey News...And Updates

     I don't know if it's because of the heat -- or the bushel basket of appraisals and gigs I've had this month -- but I am re...