Monday, June 29, 2009

Opportunities

Fabulously Broke in the City has an amazing life story...she lived an upper middle class lifestyle for many years because of her dad's casino win! And then..she lost a good part of it also because of her dad's casino "wins." Read about it here.

* * * * * * *

I'm an insurance girl this week. Our friends are out of town, and I often look after the office while they're partying away. (!!!) I used to have a Property/Casualty license, and worked at another office for a year or two, so it's not all Swahili. But it always takes me a few days to get back up to speed again...

This year, I'm working for pigs. No, not our friends! (Bet you thought that, didn't you...) Our friends raise porkers on the side -- and for my time watching the office, we'll have a whole pig, cut and wrapped, in our freezer come mid-August. It's one of the best pay rates I could have ever gotten...though it meant leaving Husband snuggled blissfully in bed this morning, while I trudged off to work. (He had the day off.)

Still very, very hot. And still.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Blahhhhhh....

I cannot seem to make myself pep up right now.

What's going on here? Is it the heat? (Because it HAS been nasty on this count lately.)

Is it my health? (I've had some trouble feeling lightheaded a lot, but don't seem to be coming down with the flu. Maybe I'm not drinking enough.)

Is it the piles lying around? And the work that needs to be done? (No motivation, though I peck away at it...)

No matter. There's stuff to be taken care of. Places to go, people to see, things to do.

* * * * *

Frugal Dad has an interesting post on sharing financial attitudes with your spouse. Husband and I started out further apart than now...he wooed me with take-out! Honestly. Remember: I grew up on a farm, with parents who had little money for extras. I had only seen delivered food a few times -- and this was a sophisticated man who enjoyed Greek salads and exotic ingredient subs. (Exotic at least to this country girl, who'd only been in a deli a few times in her life.)

Husband enjoyed going out to eat. If he wanted something, he generally bought it, though he was careful to try and find the best price.

I, on the other hand, had trouble buying anything if it didn't come from Wal-Mart, a thrift shop or a garage sale. I had few, if any store-bought clothes until high school, unless they were recycled from a cousin or two first.

We ended up tempering each other, Husband and me. He taught me that the lowest price is not necessarily the best quality. I taught him unusual spots for finding better bargains, and the value of a garage sale in a higher-income neighborhood. He taught me the value of letting the other person speak first during a dicker; I introduced barter into his life.

Twenty-four-plus years later, we sometimes disagree -- but we've also made our money stretch further than I'd ever dreamed.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Free Quart of Glidden Paint -- Today Only

Go to my companion blog, Savings Site, for more.

But the offer is good ONLY for today, Thursday.

The Heat Goes On

It has been hot here. and sticky. And more hot. It's no fun to cook...but we still need to eat. I found a great new source of easy food ideas: Sandy @ her blog, 4 Reluctant Entertainers.

The talk's good (a bit flippity at times, but entertaining in itself), but the food's even better. Sandy obviously has Other Things to Do...which helps this sometimes-harassed person, too.

* * * * * * * * *
What I Did On My Summer Trip!

Well, drove...and caught a few hours of sleep at a rest stop...and drove some more. Daughter #2 took her turn at the wheel, too, thankfully...and so did Husband on the flip side.

We got to Mom's farm, groggily staggered in, and Mom said, "I hate to tell you this, but your Aunt Arleen died early this morning." Aunt Arleen has nearly gone a number of times-- her health has been poor for quite some time. The funeral was Monday; we were supposed to leave Sunday morning. (Oh boy.)

Went to bed, slept for a few hours. We spent much of the next day helping decorate the reception area for Adam and Stephanie's wedding. Then Daughter #2 and I caught a movie (we weren't invited to the rehearsal). Took some food back for our Lovell cousins. Went back at midnight, and picked up Husband from the Grand Rapids airport. (My body had No Idea what time it was.)

Friday, did errands, then spent the evening watching Adam and Stephanie start their new life together. Saturday, picked strawberries, did more errands (including buying a huge bunch of hankies at an antique store), checked e-mail...and helped carry out bowls of watermelon and chocolate-dipped strawberries for Libby's high school graduation.

Sunday, went to church, had dinner (Happy Father's Day, Husband dear!), went to the funeral home...then left, to drive yet another 18 hours home.

How often do you go to a graduation, wedding and funeral visitation in one week?

The bad part is that my bod STILL has no idea what time it is. I was up until 2 a.m., trying everything I could think of to get sleepy...milk and a snack, a book, a warm bath...

Not an exciting life...but a life, nonetheless. I just wish I could get more than a few hours of sleep.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Good News --

Stories that have some good twists to them...

always welcome on a hot, sweltering afternoon!

I decided to make salads for the next few days -- that way, I don't have to drop everything at suppertime, I can use the cooler hours of the day (then refrig everything)...

and there will be fewer dishes to wash, especially if I make two salads at once.

Tonight, it's pasta crab salad -- and Chinese Crab Salad with the other half of the crab, thanks to Frugal Upstate:

Crunchy Asian Crab Salad

1 Head Cabbage, Shredded
1 Bunch Green Onions (or 1 regular Onion)
1/2 pound crabmeat (Frugal Upstate uses 1 1/2 - 4 cups chopped, cooked chicken instead)
2 TBS Soy Sauce
2 TBS Sugar
1/4 C Vinegar
1/3 C Oil
1/2 tsp Pepper
1 Pkg Oriental Ramen Noodles -- or a chicken or beef flavor
1/3 C Slivered Almonds, toasted (in a dry skillet)
3 TBS Sunflower Seeds, toasted (in a dry skillet)

Combine cabbage onions and crab (or chicken); cover and chill.
In a small bowl, stir together soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, oil, pepper and the favor packet from the Ramen Noodles. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Pour over chicken vegetable mixture and toss. Chill for 2-4 hours.
Toast almonds in dry skillet for about 4-6 minutes (will turn a golden brown). Toast sunflowers for about 2 minutes. Just before serving combine the chicken/cabbage mixture, nuts, and the uncooked, crumbled noodles (they should be crunchy). Toss all together and serve.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

More on Money! And The Golden West

This new book (which now has gone to the designer -- hooray!) has made me more aware of the weird and amazing world of money --

Where it started
How different phrases got their name
("Dixie," for example, originally came from a ten-dollar-bill, or dix, issued by a very reliable Southern bank!)
How gold became the standard, instead of silver (and was eventually replaced by...nothing at all, by Richard Nixon in the Seventies)

I learned a lot while writing this new book, THE GOLDEN WEST...which, incidentally, will be out this summer from the Kansas City Star book division.

But you can also learn through a new exhibit the Smithsonian started on June 12:
"Stories On Money." Take a look...

Ahhhh....Home

Daughter #2 and I have made two overnight drives from here to Michigan (approx. 18 hours each way) -- in six days. And while there, we attended:

*Nephew Adam's wedding (the reason why we went in the first place)

*Funeral visitation for Aunt Arleen (who died early on the morning we arrived)

*Cousin Libby's high school graduation open house (Libby's mom, Joanie, is a much-loved cousin...and Aunt Arleen's youngest daughter)

Talk about a surreal set of experiences.

In between, we stayed with Mom, talked to umpteen cousins, uncles and aunts...and got very little sleep.

More on the trip tomorrow -- but I'm here, and starting to percolate again. Got some much-needed sleep, did some appraisals, and tomorrow, I begin to tackle paperwork again.

Meanwhile, here are some interesting stories:

*The homeless girl who's getting ready to attend Harvard

*A Father's Day post on things learned from Dad (Don't miss the reader comments!)

*Brin has lost her beloved Freeman House, and closed her bakery. She is losing her grandfather at the same time. (See her blog here -- gee, I feel for this woman. I've never met her, but she has become a friend, nonetheless.)

See you tomorrow.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Photo Gallery of Stars - Before They Became VIPs!

Ever wonder what some media stars did before they became famous?

Here's your chance...fascinating.

What If It's A 'Good' Lie? Does That Count??

A single mother learns that her baby is doomed from its moment of birth...yet she chooses to carry it to term. Sure enough, the baby dies within a few hours of its birth. The courageous mother, who has blogged about her experience from the beginning, has tens of thousands of hits on her blogpage, and an active donations page, as well. Other bloggers, as well as thousands of other people, write to encourage her through this difficult trial.

Only it's not true.

"April's Mom" never was pregnant in the first place. The 'baby' photo she briefly put up was really a "Reborn" brand doll, and promptly recognized by several people, including the dollmaker.

Now she's apologizing, saying first that she never got any money (in spite of those insisting they mailed her checks or made donations), then eventually 'not much money.' She apologizes repeatedly for her actions, blaming them on unresolved pain in her past (including, she hints, losing a baby).

There are people online who HAVE lost babies. (Two of my cousins did -- their baby was born dead, and it was heartbreaking.) "April's Mom" (I don't have the stomach to say her actual name, and give her more publicity), by all accounts, wrote beautifully about it. Could it be argued that this was actually a 'good' lie, that she meant well, and she has given other bereaved parents a voice?

I keep hearing my grandma's (and mom's...and dad's) voice in my head: "Tell the truth, no matter what. You never have to hide from the truth. Nothing good ever came from a lie."

And you know what? I agree with them.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday rest

Did you read about the two brothers who were arrested for drugs -- but proved their innocence via the security camera?

Good for them. Very resourceful.

A 4 1/2 hour nap made all the difference in the world...that, homemade salsa and chips, and a snuggle next to Husband for a movie. Lots of good things to look forward to:

*upcoming episodes of Ice Road Truckers on the History Channnel! (The hardest part: thinking how much my dad would have enjoyed them, too.)

*time to actually begin cleaning up the Brickworks inventory!

*time to work on the next book, without a current deadline on my back.

*a big batch of order income that hasn't hit the bank account yet...lovely. Only a few gigs this summer means more time to put into the business -- but a lot less income. This order $$ will be a welcome cushion.

*time to dig in the garden! Pick flowers, plant beans, and hopefully put in a timbered raised bed early this week.

I may have a messy house and a messy house and a messy work area...but the time is finally here when I can do something about it.

3 a.m. Musings

I can't sleep. Just ran some errands in the dead of night...it's the best, when everything is cool and quiet, and only a few oddballs (like yours truly too, I guess) are roaming around. You sure can get things done quickly!

At one point in life, I cashiered at Wal-Mart. I never worked later than 11 p.m., but had a friend on the overnight shift. Other than the fight to stay awake and alert, she loved it...no pushing, shoving and hurrying. Her favorite customer was the very large drag queen who enjoyed visiting in full dress -- actually, "she" almost pulled it off, said my friend...if she'd only shaved the chest hair that peeked through that plunging neckline.

The miller moths are invading right now, and every evening the lamp is redolent with the crunchy smell of fried wings. The boys are snoozing peacefully -- one day this week, Goonie could not get up (and stay up, without our help), but tonight, his arthritis and hip troubles have eased.

I watched cowboy movies nearly all day: Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, Richard Widmark. Maybe that did it -- all the dusty landscapes and clicking spurs.

Husband is fighting some kind of flu -- maybe that's my problem: I've got it, too! (Naah, feel okay.) Maybe it's thinking about the trip to Michigan this next week, with Daughter #2 (and eventually Husband) in tow. How will Mom react? (She's still struggling quite a bit with Dad's absence.) Can I keep my mouth shut and behave myself? Can I remember to bring everything I need to?

Maybe some warm milk, and a few of the Saturday funnies I couldn't get to this morning. Maybe that will do it. Worship Team practice starts at 7:45 a.m...I need to get some sleep to function.

Will try. Goodnight...or should I say good morning??

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Weekend Business

It blew like the dickens all day...very restless. Every time the weather does this, my Michigan blood screams "Tornado!" I have to restrain myself from hiding in the basement. (One of the Denver Post's columnists, Suzanne Green, finds herself suddenly having to rearrange things in the closet!)

Spent the day working on pasting fabrics in Fabric Dating Kits, so they'd be ready for the staffers to ship out. We had a huge run on them at the North Carolina Symposium, and it's a relief to see them wrapped and headed out the door.

Tomorrow is Worship Team, a lovely long nap...and planting beans. The strawberries mentioned earlier look terrific -- all perky, though some of the berries were smacked around by the hail we've had recently. The raspberry bushes are growing like crazy, with tufts of fresh green leaves everywhere.

This wonderful rain is a lifesaver.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Mystery Clues on Places To See

This series talks about intriguing tidbits about national landmarks, including Mount Rushmore and Mount Shasta.

Makes me want to gently lock the door on these boxes and piles of Stuff, and hit the road. In fact, Daughter #2 and I will head out next Tuesday, to attend Nephew's wedding in Michigan. Nice...but I want to go NOW!

The book continues...it's off to the designer by this weekend. Lovely. (But I miss it a little!)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells...

...as hail fell gleefully down this afternoon. At least, it was only small pieces.

Turned in revised introduction and Chapter 1 of The Book...ahhhh, relief.

Now to catch up on the rest of the my life. This afternoon, I cleared away the choking weeds from the strawberries and spread compost around them. Then the rain poured down. Boy, did they look fresh and grateful! Little berries are thick under the plants.

Dad brought raspberry plants from Michigan a few years ago for the herb garden. I babied those little buggers for more than a year, but they just lagged around. Come spring, they never came back up. This year, a friend up the road dug up some of her blackberry plants, and I hopefully planted what looked to be two big sticks.

Bear in mind: berries aren't supposed to do so well out here. Our soil is alkaline, and most berries like acid soil.

Somebody forgot to tell that to my new blackberry plants -- they're practically leaping out of the ground!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Tornadoes...and Travel!

Darling Husband and I finished up a morning's worth of Worship Team at church (two services, plus extra for Communion)...and promptly crashed. Five hours later, we woke up to find that Aurora, not 30 min. drive away, had been pelted with ball-sized hail, and a line of tornadoes had gone visiting, as well. Go here for more.

Gee. No wonder the storm clouds were looking dark in that direction.

* * * * * *
After drooling and debating over a Panama Canal cruise, Husband and yours truly have decided to put that money into a longer stay in Panama...Husband thinks this may be the perfect place to buy a vacation/retirement home. We talked about retiring (or at least staying part of the year) in Mexico, so this isn't the huge jump it could have been -- after all, we're told that Internet service is better in Panama, and many amenities are American-founded, anyways.

Is it a pipe dream? Could we really live in Panama for part of the year?

There's only one way to find out...go there for at least 2, 3, 4 weeks, and scout around. It won't tell us everything, of course, but at least we'll find out if this dream is doable. Husband found a GREAT price on round-trip plane tickets...but of course, they're for the week in October I've got a gig -- judging and appraising at the Mancusos' Pacific International show in San Jose, CA.

We'll keep trying.

Along the way, I found an excellent post on traveling full-time for less than $14,000 a year. (There. Did I get your attention??)

Its author has her own blog, The Professional Hobo. Some great ideas on working your way through the country you're visiting. But most importantly, she talks about fully experiencing the country you're in. Zipping through it and grabbing a few cheesy souvenirs is not what real life's cracked up to be.

I need to do some thinking about this. We get soooo restless this time of year -- is this God's way of pushing us out the door, and on the trail somewhere?

I wonder.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Dressing Like A Girl

I don't quite know what to think about this post from Mrs. Chancey...on dressing in a feminine way, followed by a week's worth of clothing to prove her point. Of course they're all dresses, but most of the outfits seem to be winners of the "Dress Like Grandma" contest.

Do I need to wear pinafores and long, loose jumpers, lacy aprons, hats with ribbons and flowery stuff to prove I'm a woman? (Although Mrs. C's reproduction clothing pattern line, Sense and Sensibility is quite lovely. Her walking suits and Empire gowns are beautifully constructed, and the patterns are shown on women and girls of all sizes, small to comfortably plump. Go here to see them.)

Sez Mrs. Chancey:
I hope this page is an encouragement; that's the main reason it is here. Our foremothers settled this land, built houses, planted gardens and tended animals in long skirts and beautiful dresses. Even their aprons were wonderful to behold! Surely in our day of microwaves, washing machines and vacuum cleaners, we can do our chores with as much feminine flair as they. Personally, I feel it is uplifting to the spirit to go through each day in womanly attire. Let's dignify our work by dressing appropriately and beautifully for it!

I can identify with much of her statement...although for most of my young-kids-at-home years, I lived in jeans, long shirts and t-shirts. A daily shower was often the extent of my fashion prowess, it seems, looking back on that hectic time.

It's easy to go on automatic, forgetting about pretty details. I admit this. Wearing a pin or earrings helps...long dangling silver earrings set off a denim shirt nicely. (A camisole underneath with an edge of lace feels good, too.) Polishing the cowboy boots may not be 'feminine,' but I feel spruced up wearing them. That's the standard 'dressy' outfit around here in Colorado: jeans, cowboy boots and a sportcoat for guys; jeans, boots, a nice sweater, a heavy bracelet or cuff and earrings for women.

Last year, right before our Brazil trip, I bought a casual long skirt, thinking I'd offend fewer people in this strongly Catholic country. (I needn't have bothered...the women we saw along the Amazon dressed mostly in shorts and sexy-tight polyester halter or tank tops.) What I found, though, was that the skirt was airy to wear on hot days, compared to jeans that captured every drop of sweat.

This summer, I'm wearing a long skirt two or three times a week -- after all, it's in style now! -- but it doesn't look like the pioneer-style outfits shown above. A skirt, a loose t-shirt...aahh. Now if I could find some pretty sandals at the thrift shop that aren't clunky-looking, in spite of a size 9 foot....

Friday, June 5, 2009

More Odd Stories

Oddball events and weird coincidences for your perusal -- go here for the photo gallery. Not that our everyday life is full of stuff like this, what with news about David Carradine and Brazilian jets disappearing off the face of the earth. Not us. No sir.

We saw Star Trek tonight, courtesy of the $5 Buck Club at Kerasote theaters. What a marvelous movie! All sorts of pipes and machinery to intrigue Husband, whose engineer blood still runs strong. Lots of action and traveling and adventure for both of us. Really a great flick, even considering it fools around a lot with the standard Star Trek biographical line. (Uhura and Spock are in love, for example...)

Have a great weekend.

Grocery Store Tips

Trent at the Simple Dollar has an interesting post on "living in the moment." To him, that means using his frugal wiles in everyday life, on things as small as grocery lists. He has some good ideas on making notes to yourself about quantity -- and not buying anything that's not on the list.

It's good advice, especially since I'm headed to the grocery store, right after a stop at the post office, the thrift shop and the printer! Safeway's has round steak for $1.69 a pound -- a real buy around here. They've also got lettuce, mushrooms and strawberries for giveaway prices. Can I get just those items -- ok, shrimp's on sale, too -- and nothing else?

Will try.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Alzheimer's Takes Another Blow

The Alzheimer Art Quilts Initiative has awarded a $10,000 research grant to the University of Pittsburgh... hooray!

I have been honored to be a part of this group. Its efforts to fight the needless waste of so many wonderful, quick minds (including the founder's, Ami Simms,' mom, Mimi) have been one of the best quilting outreach projects in recent years.

Ami, I'm proud of you. "Mom" would have been, too.

Read all about it here.

Thursday

The clouds have finally lifted. Strange for us here in Colorado to have so much rain -- but then again, it was snowing in the mountains yesterday. I swear I saw a couple of flakes down here, too (6250 ft elevation).

The plants are still alive...shoot, they look as if they're going to take over the house any second! The Harison's Yellow Rose is still going strong, as is a mystery rose whose parent slip was originally found in Denver's Fairmount Cemetary. I just found a great book at the library's secondhand sale: Penelope Hobhouse's Story of Gardening. (In hardback, no less, for a $2 bill.) So far, I'm traveling through Pompeii, admiring marble columns and lemon bushes, but heading slowly toward the Colonial landscape.

Beans are going in today, bordering the day lilies and planted in a clump under one of the Eiffel Tower-shaped wire sculptures. (I am a sucker for this shape, though it doesn't always stand up under our 40 mph-plus winds.) Yes, I know -- I'm late getting the garden in. That's what happens when you spend a week teaching in North Carolina.

Meredith at Like Merchant Ships has people posting their favorite blogs today...I found Willow Manor (wonderful if you are fond of poetry in everyday life). She begins with a great photo, and this quote from Boris Pasternak:

Poetry is a rich, full-bodied whistle,
Cracked ice crunching in pails,
The night that numbs the leaf,
The duel of two nightingales,
The sweet pea that has run wild,
Creation's tears in shoulder blades...

Oh my.

Off to weed -- and edit -- and ponder.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Here Fishie, Fishie...

Some Far East fisherman pulled in the strangest fish -- looks almost like a very-pulled-on pike -- five feet long!

That's not the weirdest part of this odd video...the fishermen believe that sighting the fish is actually a sign that an earthquake's coming -- and that it will hit very soon.

So if it does...you read it here first. Tell me if you don't think 'sea serpent' when you view this creature-- I'd be very surprised if you don't.

* * * * *
Gradually coming back to life. Still a lot of stuff to clean up, but I'm slowly making progress. Hope you are, too.

Monday, June 1, 2009

An American Institution is No More

Cranston Printworks is shutting down its Massachusetts plant...and losing its title as the oldest American fabric manufacturer. It started in 1812 as part of the Samuel Slater group of companies.

So far,the company technically still exists in the U.S. It still has some warehousing going on. But I suspect they will close completely, once their fabric stocks are depleted. Company reps said fixed costs for operating in the U.S. were too high, compared to overseas prices.

What a crying shame. Read more about it here.

Starting Up Again

Got home from NC last night about 10:30 p.m, after an interesting (bumpy) trip down through the thunderclouds... just beat. The 'How to Date and Restore Your Quilt' class was jampacked, but I only had three hours to teach the whole class. I moved through material at light-speed sometimes, and skipped some sections (like crazy quilts) nearly altogether -- but still, I had a line of people at the end, wanting to talk about their particular situation. By the time they left, and I'd packed up, the lunch line was closed. If it hadn't been for Marlene, who managed to track he director down and snag us some food.... Somehow I had to eat, finish packing, find the lady who was to give me a ride to the airport, and make the plane -- all in a few hours.

We were supposed to turn our keys in just before leaving -- $75 due if you didn't! I jammed in the rest of my clothes, hauled the suitcases down (with Marlene's help)...and couldn't find the keys. Looked EVERYWHERE...then suddenly remembered: they were still in the lock of the dorm room. Some crayons aren't too sharp out of the box...

Its been a long week. (but a nice one) Special thanks to he girls from the Vintage Quilt Study Group, who especially made me feel right to home. Even if my accent was weird.

Things remembered from North Carolina:

*the warm smiling faces of so many people, often with that lilting, soft accent
*the intoxicating scent of magnolias, creamy white and warmed by the sun
*the soda fountain and the taste of a made-from-scratch limeade, while I watched everyone come and go
*Carolina barbecue! And fried oysters. (Need I say more...)
*brick mansions. Lavish green yards and landscapes everywhere
*a quilt on my bed in the dorm -- and a vase of fresh garden flowers
*beautiful quilts

* * * * *
Someone else is back -- Brin from My Messy, Thrilling Life is blogging again. I've missed her.

* * * * *
If you admire fine applique, this auction's for you -- Quilter's Hall of Fame is selling a large batch of quilts with aplique patterns by Marie Webster, their patron designer. The price is right --it starts at $50, and goes up in increments...or you can buy the quilt outright for $300. Bidding ends in mid-July. Go here for more information. I love the Iris and Windblown Tulip blocks, but know firstand how long they can take -- bought a basted-but-not-stitched Windblown Tulips block once, intending to applique it into a wallhaging for Mom. Took me almost a year, working off and on. That kind of time makes these quilts a real bargain!

* * * * *

Time to wash clothes, start weeding the garden (grass and the Mint Marauders are shooting up everywhere), and begin unpacking. It's nice to be home.