Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dazed and Confused

my inner self has no idea what's going on.

It's been extremely chilly in Colorado. Tonight, I'm in the Houston area -- Humble, TX exactly (pronounced "Umble"), getting ready to judge a show tomorrow.

Chilly it ain't.

After a fun-packed few hours jammed between a girl who either blabbed on her cell phone, listened to stuff on her earplugs so loud that it came through loud and clear for me...oh, and my favorite -- woke me up out of a sound sleep so she could go to the bathroom. Just before we landed. Where the bathrooms are not only much easier to use, but less smelly, to boot.

No. She needed to use the bathroom ON THE PLANE.

Wanna know who was on the other side? A mom with a cute young baby. With lungs of leather. (The baby, not the mom.) Who liked to practice with them. Repeatedly.

I staggered out of the terminal after this fun experience, and nearly ran smack dab into palms. And flowering bushes. Big ones. Wow...and tropical!

It's going to take some time to get used to this. Fortunately, my inner self is getting used to the time change -- and the altitude change (begone, headache) -- and has absolutely no idea what time it is. So this may take a while.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Monday, Monday

I've found a wonderful blog that you'll enjoy, too..

Balancing Beauty with Bedlam
http://www.inpassionatepursuit.blogspot.com

She's got a dainty hand with garage sale and thrift shop finds, both with her home and her wardrobe.

Besides, I need a little order and serenity mixed in with my local bedlam...

It started snowing again last night. About six inches on the ground this morning...but the sun's out again. The baby spinach plants in the coldframe will enjoy the moisture from the melting snow.

And I'm working on Belle Starr, and weeping through the latest Masterpiece Classic: Little Dorrit

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/littledorrit/

Reader's Digest has some helpful ideas on keeping your cool through these uncertain times:

http://www.rd.com/living-healthy/5-happiness-secrets-for-tough-times/article119666.html

Now back to my uncertain time...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Weekend (thank God)

...and I mean that literally. Where would we be without a break from the 'everyday' schedule.

It's been especially nice to be with Husband. I enjoy going out of town...I really do. It's fun to visit new places, try new things. I love meeting new quilters -- trying new stuff.

but I miss Husband soooo much...he can rarely come with. I don't sleep well without him, and time when I'm not working is generally lonesome. I miss his warm snuggliness. I miss his wry comments. I miss HIM.

Some things I've discovered, thanks to Husband --

MTV's new show, "Bully Beatdown." Guys who have been tormented by a friend or relative nominate their bully to face a professional fighter in a ringside bout. If Bully can last for two 3-minute bouts, he wins $10,000 -- if he doesn't, his friends get the cash.

I've only seen two shows, and they were alternately funny and crude. (And if you enjoy seeing a bully get the crap beaten out of them, a delicious sense of vengeance, too.) Tonight's show, the bully didn't land many punches -- he would have lost the fight, point-wise -- but he held on, and won the $10,000! (He also threw up, sort of apologized to his victims, and had to have oxygen afterwards.) Lisa VanderWerf from middle school, where are you and your posse? I have someone who would like to meet you...

More things:

*Chicago Hot Dogs. (weird green relish, amazing crunchy mix of dill pickle, roasted dog, mustard, hot peppers. No catsup, no way.) I had one in the airport on the way to/from home. (Husband got one brought back, too.)

*Cash Cab. Husband found this tv show, as well...a guy driving NY City asks his customers Jeopardy-style questions on the way to their destination. If they get them all right, they get the ride free -- and cash! (If not, they get let out somewhere along the way.)

*The merits of long Sunday afternoon naps.

*The Bucket List. A way better movie than the reviews suggested. (And that's coming from someone who generally loathes Jack Nicholson.)

What can I say. I love Husband. I love his quirky, wonderful ways. And for my part, I introduced him to the charms of Jesse James and Celebrity Apprentice. Jesse has been brilliant in computer work, marketing, has stayed out of the petty bickering and fights others have indulged in (especially, sadly, the women)...and he's refused to trade off the reputation of his wife, Sandra Bullock. He got chewed out for it, too. ("I don't mix business with pleasure," he said. Gutsy.)

* * * * * *
A cruise ship finally won against the pirates! Six guys in a small white boat tried to board an MSC cruise ship off the coast of Somalia. Unfortunately, they didn't reckon with the Israeli security force on board, who fought back with pistols and water hoses. Good for them:

http://news.aol.com/article/cruise-ship-pirates/429412?icid=mainhp-laptopdl1link5http%3A%2F%2Fnews.aol.com%2Farticle%2Fcruise-ship-pirates%2F429412

We've took an MSC Caribbean cruise a few years back. Wonderful value -- the food was great, people we met on board were very interesting (a wide mix of Canadians, Europeans and Americans), and the crew were remarkable. We had a wonderful time.

Now I have one more reason to trust them.

* * * * * *
Tonight, it's back to work. But I feel better.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

One Pot Meals Rule!

...especially if they're via the crockpot. Without it, I'd have a tough time keeping food on the table while I'm working. Fifteen or twenty minutes of work before I head out the door, and a wonderful fragrance wafts through the air when I get back that night.

It's a great help when I'm headed out of town, as well. Dave lived for a few nights on chili last weekend, thanks to the trusty crockpot.

Yum.

Ham and pea soup is simmering in the crockpot right now, and brightening a gloomy Saturday. What's in it? A meaty ham bone, 1 chopped onion, a shake or two of chicken seasoning, 3 cups of dried peas. Fill the crockpot 2/3 full, let simmer at low for 7-9 hours. Pull the hambone and clean off the meat -- give the grungy stuff to the boys. (One gets the fat and such; the other, the bone.)

Here are more ideas:

http://www.aldenteblog.com/2009/03/easy-one-pot-meals-1.html

Organic Gardening - Free!

Thanks for this info from MoneysavingMom:

if you join the Stoneyfield customers forum (free), you'll also get a year's subscription to Organic Gardening magazine -- free!

http://stonyfieldfarm.satmetrix.com/stonyfield/portal/controller/page/Waiver?service=page&context=Waiver

I've read OG for years, and it's wonderful. It can jump on the 'let's-be-weird-about-green-issues' bandwagon, but it has a lot of practical, helpful information. My plants have been better for my reading OG.

Besides, how can you argue with free! But I suspect this won't last for long...

Friday, April 24, 2009

I'm baaaccckkkk...

Finally home, with three quilts in the suitcase and some goodies for Husband...

it's good to be back.

Some interesting auctions, including a group of paintings that may (or may not be) done by Adolf Hitler:

http://news.aol.com/article/hitler-watercolors/443657?icid=mainhp-laptopdl1link3http%3A%2F%2Fnews.aol.com%2Farticle%2Fhitler-watercolors%2F443657

More tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I'm Here...Just Quiet

I've been staying with Mom in Michigan this week, working on The Book, The Book's Patterns, and sewing. You can tell I'm at the folks' house -- Mom's once clean and peaceful dining room is full of piles -- papers, fabrics, finished blocks, all threatening to fall over and hurt someone.

The detritus is drifting slowly into the living room. I think it's looking for fresh meat.

Have you had spring weather? It's beautiful here in Michigan, but I left Denver on the heels of a snowstorm Friday. My plane took off at 6:10 a.m., just when the snow really hit DIA, and we had to stop for de-icing first. I switched planes in Chicago, where we were met by green lawns and sun. People from Denver going east got off in heavy coats, warm clothes and even long underwear. (I know -- overheard a guy in the next seat, talking to his dad.)

People from Chicago going west wore sundresses, sandals, sunglasses. Bet they got a shock when they deplaned!

Husband said we got 1 1/2 feet of snow. (Daughter #2, who lives up in the mountains, got 4 feet.) Husband also texted, "Why is it that whenever you leave, we get these huge snowstorms?" He remembers all too well the week when he was snowed in for four days straight -- and I was teaching in North Dakota, with not a flake on the ground.

It's nearly gone now in Colorado. But how would I know, when all I can see are daffodils, birds and forsythias in Michigan. Mmmm...

See you this weekend.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Week Just Keeps Going...And Going...

Susan Boyle is receiving the credit she deserves...what a courageous (and talented) woman!

* * * * *
Here's news of two guys who came down the "easy" way from Mount Washington. (ahem) It's a miracle they rode the avalanche:

http://news.aol.com/article/avalanche-survivors/429819?icid=mainhp-laptopdl1link3http%3A%2F%2Fnews.aol.com%2Farticle%2Favalanche-survivors%2F429819

I climbed that stubborn, beautiful hill 13 times in college, while teaching back-packing in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I say "hill" because, compared to the REAL mountains out here in Colorado, it's just a... well, you know. :)

amazing. More amazing stories hooked onto that slide show, as well.

For those of you looking out at green grass and warm breezes, it's snowing here. Again. More expected tomorrow. And the next day. My daffodils are looking quite tired of it all.

At least it keeps you in, and wanting to work.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Don't Miss This!!

After a very tired day...up until 4 a.m. working, batch of piano lessons given, still fighting flu...

and the most amazing, inspiring video I've seen in a long, long time.

Don't miss this appearance of Susan Boyle on the Brit version of American Idol:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lp0IWv8QZY

and see if you don't smile through your tears, as well!

Thank you, friend Laura, for mentioning it!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Trading In Your Car For Cash...And A New Car

Apparently Great Britain is considering implementing a new program where old car drivers (not old people -- people with old cars!) would turn in their machines for scrap in return for 2,000 pounds and a commitment to buy a new car.

What is that -- about $5000?

Here's the link:

http://www.confused.com/news/motoring/car-insurance/-2-000-scrappage-scheme-expected-2536699634

What intrigued me was the matter-of-fact statement that Germany has already done this successfully.

Really! I'm not so sure we'd turn our baby in. (It has several years of life left, I think.) But I am certain both Daughters would leap at the chance -- Daughter #1's car has been looking a little sad, and Daughter #2's car is not that far from the grave.

Seems like this would be a GREAT idea for our ever-burgeoning subsidizing!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Blessings

*Christ the Lord is Risen Today. I am so grateful for this...what a difference He has made in my life.

*Daughter #1 is definitely healing. Whew.

*It rained. All day. Hard. No doubt some of you have this happen all the time -- but it's a once-every-month-or-so happening for my part of Colorado. Any moisture is welcome in our 'High Desert' climate. (Thanks so much to the guys at church who were on 'umbrella patrol' in the parking lot!)

*We made it through Easter services. Husband led music for both services...feeling crappy, but the other Worship Team leader has strep. He (and the team) did a tremendous job.
--I dragged myself there, with Daughter #2 in tow. Came home, ate ham and asparagus with pecan tart for dessert, then a three-hour nap. Delicious --

*I am making progress on The Book. Albeit slower than I'd planned. Only one diagram to go.

*Someday this will all be a fond -- albeit harassed -- memory. Double whew.

Hopefully your weekend went wonderfully well.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Multi-Layered Weekend

Actually, it started Thursday...

when Daughter #1 landed on her right shoulder while going off a snowboard jump. ("Last run of the day, Mom," she said.) Suddenly she couldn't move her arm. Then while limping back to the chairlift, something 'popped.' She could move the arm again, but it hurt like crazy. (And yes, she's right-handed.)

Most of Friday (a day originally meant for The Book) was spent schlepping her around to the doctor...then the x-ray clinic...then back to the doctor...then to get a prescription filled. Thank God -- no bones broken. The doctor thought she might have torn or strained a muscle in her shoulder. So it was on to a sling, anti-inflammatories, a heating pad (to start the regimen of hot/cold the doctor recommended)...and relief that while it was painful, the doctor said she'd be feeling much better soon.

A text from tonight said she was. Thank God. Now at least she has more respect for her left-handed momma's way of doing things!

Then I learned the hard way that when you scan 20 or so diagrams in on Photoshop -- and do not stop to save the scans you've already done -- the whole system crashes and you lose it all. (I only had 2 to go...sigh.)

Another lesson. Running a low-grade fever while working down in a chilly office helps keep you quite comfortable!

Lesson #3. Even if you're not feeling well, it's amazing what you can do if you have to -- go to work (which Daughter #1 has done for two nights straight -- what a girl), pick up and drop off children, do errands, wash dishes. Keep on going, in other words.

The wind has roared yesterday and today. The Easter Egg hunt at church this afternoon must have been a kick -- what with the 40-60 mph winds, the kids must have been flying in the wind. Sun's out (so are the daffodils and hyacinths, though they're getting beaten to death), and great banks of clouds go flying by. Rain punctates now and then.

Whatever-this-flu-is seems to be heading toward bronchitis. Husband feels horrible, too...but the other worship team leader has strep. Dave has rested all day, hoping to get enough strength to get through leading both services tomorrow. What else can you do -- on EASTER, of all days for this to happen!

I may or may not go. Daughter #2 is here to help celebrate Easter. I feel bad staying home while she's here. May just make myself go, anyways. But there won't be a big fancy dinner -- probably just ham and baked potatoes, and a pecan tart found in King Sooper's marked-down section a week ago.

* * * * * *
Simple Dollar has an interesting post on simple things that ARE worth keeping, even on a budget:

http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2009/04/10/the-little-things-that-make-you-happy/

(Don't miss clicking on his recipe for homemade laundry detergent, too.)

And over at Savings Site, it's a discussion on how seriously people are actually taking the whole 'saving on groceries' thing.

HAPPY EASTER!!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Could Everything Shut Down At A Moment's Notice?

According to the Wall Street Journal, as well as a number of other sources, techno-spies have seriously invaded the U.S.'s electrical system. Not only that, but they've put in 'sleeper' software that, if activated, could shut things down in a hurry.

No one would have found this if electrical companies had not given the government permission to do an audit on their systems.

It's thought that these hackers were from China and Russia primarily, though those countries are denying any responsibility.

Read more here:
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gTamvV9J8BmeVmQift2odb--mBigD97EJO000

Are you as creeped out about this as I am?

I'm also surprised that the articles seem to have been pushed aside very quickly by the media. Better not to think about it, perhaps they're reasoning. Can't do anything about it anyways... who knows, but I saw the article this morning -- and really had to search for it tonight.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Free Blue and White Notecards!

Three and a half hours of sleep later, feeling a little more alert...

I love blue and white together. Cups, dishes, and vases that let the light shine through...they're all big on my docket. You can print off your own pretty blue and white notecards, thanks to these downloads from Alice Cantrell. Thanks, Alice -- they're lovely.

http://www.alicecantrell.com/blog/2009/04/blue-white-tea-notes.html

Working Tuesday

Only got a few minutes' sleep last night...maybe half an hour...but I am finally starting to make progress.

Just have to keep it up for a while.

Have you heard about this Australian sheepdog named Sophie Tucker? She fell off her owners' boat, managed to swim 5 miles to a desert island, and lived there for 4 months -- on her own. Park rangers found her, and said she'd lived by hunting baby goats.

And her owners said she was a house dog before this.

Amazing.

http://news.aol.com/article/dog-overboard/416030

Monday, April 6, 2009

Monday Musings

Oh, Spring. I know you are out there, melting last night's snow. Warm breezes caress the 'ol cheek when I step out for a moment. The flowers are popping up like crazy...the dirt is beckoning. "Dig in me! Dig in me!"

And what am I working with but yup, you know...THE BOOK.

And quilts. Which normally are wonderful. I would just like to prance around in the newly-uncovered grass with the boys, sniffing and jumping and looking at the butterflies.

Asparagus grew in the drainage ditches near the farm in Michigan about this time...and I always think asparagus goes with spring. This pasta recipe sounds especially nice:

http://cheaphealthygood.blogspot.com/2009/04/spaghetti-with-asparagus-egg-and.html

Back to work...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Working From Home

I'm going to triple up today, and post the same as on my other blogs:
http://www.savingsite.blogspot.com
http://www.savingssite.blogspot.com

(Sorry, guys. The deadline loometh.)

But I don't usually do this! Take a minute and visit those blogs for frugal tips, saving money ideas, and such. Here's today's post:

Do you work from home?

I do...sort of. The basement floor of our house is dedicated to Brickworks -- not only my office, but a sewing/storage room, a library area (which I hope to clean up and use for classes this summer), and a HUGE open area with a fireplace at one end, and stacks of drawers, shelves, etc. all the way down the walls. A cutting table, put on sort-of stilts/bricks by my dad, who realized his 5' 7" daughter was leaning over too much, and hurting her back. Bolts of fabrics lining the wall, and a huge schrunk (wardrobe with mirrored doors) that houses most of my teaching quilt collection. (That's somewhere between 150-200 quilts and tops. whew.)

My problem -- stuff is scattered EVERYWHERE. Particularly now that I'm trying to finish up this book. So when the book's submitted -- guess who's dedicating at least 3 DAYS to picking up and putting stuff away! Even one day will make all the difference.

Gather Little by Little has some excellent tips for working from home:

http://www.gatherlittlebylittle.com/2008/11/tips-for-working-from-home/

I can add:
*Double dishes -- if you're doing a casserole, make double -- put one in the freezer. (Those have really saved my life this past few weeks.)
*Spend at least 15 min. a day putting things away or cleaning...the upstairs looks better, even with this bit of care!
*Don't answer the phone. Return your calls at the end of the day.
*Don't check e-mail more than once -- and if you can, don't check on the weekends. Gives you a nice break.
*Take a day off, even if you're self-employed. I try hard to reserve Sundays just for life -- taking an afternoon nap, maybe doing some cooking, reading a book I want to read. This lasts, for me, from daybreak through nightfall. (I broke the rule today and did work -- and will work tonight. But that's unusual.)

The most important thing to remember: no matter how important your biz is, it's NOT as important as your family and friends. And your faith. They count. The most.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

It IS April...right?

Snow. Ice. More Snow -- blowing sideways for good measure. Or upside-down. Rightside-up.

I was supposed to do appraisals today at the Creative Needle in Littleton -- only 20 minutes or so away. Nothing doing, right?

Naah. I called -- and they said, "What snow? We've just got a little rain here!"

And so they did.

So Husband and I slipped and slid our scary way to the edge of Denver -- where the blizzard magically disappeared, and we drove into Rainy Day Land.

The Creative Needle staff is great -- thanks to all of you, especially Marge, for your kindness -- and I couldn't resist buying a nice batch of batiks (they have the best selection), some hologram threads, a batch of sewing-themed hankies and some iridescent floss. Drooled over the glass buttons and beads Marge's son makes...lovely.

By the time I left at 4 p.m., the snow was just beginning there...and five miles later, we were right back in Storm Land.

Weird.

A nice cozy fire. Popcorn. THE BOOK on my mind. And Carolina winning its way to Monday night's final confrontation -- with Michigan State!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I AM GOING TO FINISH THIS BOOK. (Then Pass Out)

I notice that the good folks at Google are hard-put to match an ad or two to my iFart post. Poor people...

Yes, I am working on THE BOOK. It's overdue, gently reminds Deb, my long-suffering editor. (Gigs, the flu, and most of all, my dad's illness and death have taken their toll.)
Husband equally gently reminded that I go through this same process with every book. This, by the way, is #6:

*interest
*fascination
*obsession
*commitment (sign the contract)
*despair
*self-hating ("why, oh why, did I do this...no one will be interested in what I have to say blah blah")
*exhaustion (too many late nights, coffee and bubble gum)
*common sense gradually returning
*interest returning
*figuring out problems ("now how can I get THIS motif in THAT block size?")
*writing, writing, writing...
*stitching, stitching, stitching (sample projects have to get finished, too)
*absentmindedness (can't find my keys, but I know when gold was first discovered in California!)
*odd dreams -- bigtime. (Or insomnia -- take your pick)
*FINISH -- ship everything out (usually just as the birds are chirping in early morning)
*Collapse.

Then start the process all over again with revisions and changes.
There now. Don't you envy the life of an author?

I mutter to myself, spank at the computer screen, do umpteen fabric yardages. (After all, you have to double-check this stuff to be sure it's accurate. That is, before your editor triple-checks it for you.) Wash dishes, and feel guilty. (I should be working on...) Check something, then find myself reading Crazy Aunt Purl...who, after all, knows what it feels like to be "producing a book from my nether regions in two days:"

http://www.crazyauntpurl.com/archives/2009/03/top_ten_nonsens.php

Then an endearing little note about Queen Elizabeth, normally a beacon of propriety, hugging Michelle Obama -- and having the embrace returned. Look at the Queen's eyes while she's talking to Michelle in the video clip -- she honestly LIKES this woman! Frankly, I don't blame her. Mrs. Obama is like fresh wind in that stuffy atmosphere.

http://www.comcast.net/articles/news-world/20090402/G20.Michelle.Obama/

Ooh...wind! And the Pull My Finger business. Hmmm.... nope. Not going there. After all, there is THE BOOK.

So I sigh, brush off the pile of pistachio nut shells that's collected, throw them in the garden (ooh, I should be out there moving the snow aside and checking on the daffs...no, THE BOOK...)

Something from the freezer tonight. No recreational reading. No messing about with Judge Judy. Just, you know...

Sigh.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fool?

One company is suing another, claiming it has violated the other's IPhone application.

Ifart, whose specialties include "Jack the Ripper" and Burrito Maximo," is being accused of grabbiness (and intruding on the 'exclusive' ability to make farting noises by IPhone) by the company Pull My Finger.

Pull My Finger claims it has exclusive use to the phrase "pull my finger." In the spite of the fact that this phrase has been around for a long, long, LONG time.

Pull My Finger was the top seller in the applications area of Apple's Iphone App Store...until it was supplanted by iFart, who was the top seller for 22 consecutive days.

Think this is just an April Fool's joke? Check out:

http://www.denverpost.com/headlines/ci_12006444

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...