Friday, April 30, 2010

Denver Quilt Festival -- Treasure There and Elsewhere!

...stop by this weekend! A lot of gorgeous quilts -- even though I helped judge them, I still enjoy just wandering around through the rows, studying them close-up, and catching a glimpse far away. They always look so different from each perspective.
   A large and varied vendor's mall is part of the experience, plus demos...classes, lectures and appraisals are available, too.
   The Denver Quilt Festival is inexpensive, and located at Denver's Merchandise Mart on 58th Ave. just through Sunday. Show & Tell is Sat. afternoon at 4:30 p.m. -- come on over!
   Went to coffee this morning at 6:15 a.m., but have been taking joy in doing 'housewifey' stuff today, like vacuuming and putting stuff away. The "Quilts from the Golden West" class went really well, with lots of freebies and personal attention for the students -- but boy, was I tired when I got home.

* * * * * * * * * * * *
News from the Ancient World -- via the Canadian Arctic: As some long-term ice patches melt, more than 200 different old tools have been found, ranging from bows to spearpoints -- some as old as 900 years! They've been discovered in areas caribou still enjoy hanging out in. Wow.

And finally, a medieval period gold/silver hoard -- more than 11 pounds of it, discovered last September in England by a metal detector searching a farmer's field. Take a closer look at it in this article, including a cross folded to make it easier to hide. (Yep, that's right -- folded in pieces, just like it was tinfoil.) Gorgeous.

The Nuggets are busy trying to lose -- then win -- the last game of the playoffs, and it's well into fourth quarter. Gotta go.

Later on: Well, shoot -- they lost, 104-112, to the Utah Jazz. At least they got further than most people thought they would -- and we get a taco special from Taco Bell! (3 for a buck, with purchase of a drink.)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

School Doings...and the Denver Quilt Festival

My thrifty friend over at Grocery Cart Challenge must be having a slow day...she's currently obsessed with dryer lint. A weird but useful post.

I am so tired my eyes aren't focusing straight. Went in to the Festival REALLY early (was there by 7 a.m.), then sat out in the parking lot putting a sleeve on a quilt, because I couldn't persuade the entryway people that I 1)wasn't some retail flake who'd gotten there early, and was trying to talk her way in (their first guess), and 2) I was a judge, and was supposed to be there. No matter what they said.

Finally, I managed to find the other judges and have breakfast. Then we worked...and worked...and worked. Judging means lots of trudging back and forth to compare quilts, double-checking details, trying to cover comments both positive and workable...then signing all the pages before you finally end.

Got home, dead. Dogs hungry -- put the teakettle on, fed them, laid on the couch and watched Judge Judy for a while. Too tired to sleep. Husband finally came home -- he'd been to a meeting of Douglas County employees. The Powers That Be have scheduled a mandatory meeting tomorrow to discuss how they're going to cope with the upcoming budget shortage. As near as Husband can figure, he thinks his position has a very good chance of being cut to 9 months, even though administration is "helpfully" offering to parcel that pay over 12 months.

Which. Means. A. 25%. Pay Cut.

Ask you whether the salaried employees are being asked to take a similar pay cut? Of course not. (Bear in mind that Husband already took a 10% cut a year ago -- this new cut is on the revised pay.) Ask you whether the new superintendent or any other members in administration are taking similar pay cuts?

Silly you, to even think such a thing might happen. Our new superintendent is, in fact, one of the highest-paid superintendents in Colorado. She's making $40,000 more than the previous super, whose salary was the subject of much discussion around these parts, as well. (And if you're wondering whether he and other administration members took a 10% pay cut at the same time Husband and other hourly people in D.C. were forced to do so...once again, naaahhhh.)

Now ask if the non-salaried (i.e., hourly) employees are all being asked to do this? Pretty much right across the board, though there are some faint noises being made that suggest extra hours may be offered here and there during the summer months.

Add to that the new suggested deductible for health care -- more than $11,000. Yes, we have to pay $11,000-plus out of our own pockets before insurance -- which we also pay for -- kicks in. No wonder we feel loved.

Who knows. Maybe Husband's position will escape the cut tomorrow. Maybe he'll be asked to a salaried position, which offers a lot more protection...but even if he comes out of the fray whole, we have plenty of friends and acquaintances who are going to hurt.

At least, like Crazy Aunt Purl, we are still not bugs. (Thanks to you, Mr. Kafka.)

I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Buddette One Frugal Girl is talking about things she's automatically drawn to. (Her list includes nice bowls and platters, dangly earrnings and swimsuits.)

I asked Daughter #1, who slept over last night, this question. Her list:
    *graphic tees (not ones with words on them)
    *wool coats with military-type details
    *'destroyed' and "really dark" jeans
    *things for her apartment -- especially pillows and prints for the wall

(When I asked her about the t-shirts -- she'd worn many with captions in high school -- she sighed and gently said, "Mom, my style has changed a lot.")

For me, the list would include:
   *anything on the clearance rack or in the remnant bin
   *imported cookies (I just found an incredible deal on German lebkuchen, the best cookies in the world, for more than half off on Amazon.)
   *antique cups and plates -- matched, mismatched, doesn't matter
   *any home dec items that are larger scale -- oversized clocks, basketry and such
   *old books, postcards, catalogs, magazines
   *weird stuff -- unusual prints, objects, quilts, handkerchiefs, whatever
   *any classic fabric prints that can be used in a wide variety of projects -- or the latest design in a smashing new color or shade

You can see that I'm much more comfortable in a fabric or secondhand shop than a standard retail place.
What does your list include?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Weather Update -- If You Care!!

A foot of snow last Friday. (Daughter #1 in Denver saw only rain -- Daughter #2, up in the mountains, also had a boatload of snow.) By Friday afternoon, in the past two days, we'd had:
   *tornado warnings
   *a hailstorm
   *thunderstorm warnings
   *a blizzard warning
   *and finally -- a flood warning!

At least six inches of snow on the ground Saturday morning, when we woke up.

Rain Sunday afternoon, changing to snow by late evening.

More than six inches more of snow this morning, when we woke up.

Which had nearly all melted by the time the sun went down tonight.

What's next? Who knows -- this is Colorado, after all!

Relative Reading

I should preface this by stating that The Mama is not a computer sort of girl. For a while, she was doing e-mail, but a slow computer, combined with my dad's long illness, took the starch right out of her. We've encouraged her to try again, but so far, haven't had any success.

During a phone call last night, she said she'd been reading my blog, and found it interesting to hear my viewpoint on some of the things that had gone on in our lives these past months. (She also said she had a problem with my saying "damndest," which REALLY caught me off-guard. More on this in a bit.)

Turns out that Uncle, Mom's youngest brother, has been printing off my blogposts. (Why he would do this, I haven't a clue. I generally don't talk about much exciting stuff.) He brought them to Mom for her perusal...

This bothered me more than I would have figured. After all, both daughters occasionally read this blog. Husband has even checked it out one or two times. (Husband, though a wonderful, supportive guy, rarely reads much of my work. Probably helps him keep a balanced distance.) Mom was the youngest of eight kids, who each had from 5-8 kids themselves, which means I have a ton of cousins. Most of them are way more computer-literate than yours truly. Several uncles and aunts hold a spot on the internet family raft.

Then there are the many friends and colleagues I've made over the years, including Deb, my editor for Quilts of the Golden West, and several teaching buddies. I'm certain they occasionally dip their toes into the blog. I know I visit theirs, just to see what they're up to.

So why does this 'intrusion' bother me??

It's easy to forget that this is much more than an online diary -- it's a public record. It's even easier to spout off on hurts, imagined insults and frustrations without remembering that they may hurt someone else in the process of venting. In a way, Uncle did me a favor when he brought Mom the pages -- it was a wakeup call. Would I be embarrassed to have her read them?

Fortunately, the answer was no.

P.S. And by the way, Ma, I double-checked, and the word was "darndest." I don't believe anyone but God can damn someone...which gives me no right to use the word. I don't say it -- I don't write it, even if the character in the novel or story might. I just can't. Ask the Daughters if they haven't heard speeches about this!

The Week Begins...

...and so does the Denver Quilt Festival. I have to go to the Merchandise Mart to help hang my exhibit, "Quilts from the World of Cindy Brick." The next day, it's on to judging, then Thursday I teach "Quilts of the Golden West." (Openings still available -- I'd love to have you come join me!) THEN...I can finally draw a deeper breath.
    The Festival will be full of exhibits, classes, talks, vendors and everything that makes a quilt show fascinating. Take a few hours -- or a day -- to come visit: you won't regret it. The Festival opens Wednesday night, then continues Thurs - Sunday. Go here for more information. Hours are 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Thurs-Sat, then 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Sunday.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Potatoes, Patatas...

 Living on a Dime suggests dehydrating potatoes , then using the shreds for hash browns during camping. Whoa -- I didn't know you could even do this! (And Husband LOVES hash browns in the crisp mountain air.) I've got a 10-pound bag of taters that's trying its darndest to sprout, and the food dryer is calling its name.

And ooh, look at this recipe! Now the girlies can have warm 'Delights' anytime they want! (Thanks also to Living on a Dime for this one.)


1 box cake mix (any flavor)
1 box pudding mix (any flavor)
Mix the 2 boxes together and store in a container.

When you're ready to make cake, put together:
1 cup mix
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon cooking oil
Mix all in a large microwave safe mug (soup
bowl with a handle). Put a dab of frosting on top
of batter. Microwave for one minute. You've got cake for one!

It was snowing when we got up this morning, and didn't stop until we had A FOOT of snow on the ground by late afternoon. (Denver didn't get a flake -- but lots of rain.) And I almost put tomatoes out earlier this week...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Hello, Rachael Kinnison!

I made a new acquaintance today that I'm sure you would like to get to know, too --

Rachael Kinnison of the Lady's Repository Museum in Trinidad, CO. Rachael has just finished an elaborate Baltimore Album that took more than a decade to stitch. (That's how I met her.) But she also has a strong interest in costuming, early fabric history and dollmaking. You can meet her through her blog for her private museum, and get to know her kids (human and animal). She has an ETSY store featuring her "dollys," as well.

Making Progress


Rosebushes in the ground.Tulips are up, and like the daffodils, blooming their heads off. Every day this week, I should be able to put an hour or so into the garden, in spite of overcast clouds and raindrops. Hooray, we're getting rain!

Business items are getting done too -- a huge relief. All of our staffers for Brickworks are off this week, which puts the onus on me to keep orders going out and paperwork done. It's nice to feel like something is finally happening around here...I've felt so long that I've just been running in place.

Next on the docket is a sample wallhanging of Quilts of the Golden West for next week's class at the Denver Quilt Festival. Ironically, the big quilts are done -- it's just the little one that's not finished! There are still spots in my class; come join me! Mention this blog, and I'll even throw in a free copy of Hanky Panky Crazy Quilts when you come to class.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Get the Picture?

Photopreneur is a website dedicated to photography -- but what a difference! It isn't just articles on how to take photographs better...or how to sell them. It's also a stash of famous fakes,* the world's most expensive photos, and a group that were staged. (Or were they? You'll be surprised which photos are listed there!)

I had fun putzing around the various articles -- you will, too.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

*The best of the batch is Tourist Guy, a photograph of a Hungarian tourist, Peter Guzli, at the World Trade Center, with an airliner Supposedly the picture came from a camera found in the wreckage after 9/11.
     Actually, Peter Photoshopped the plane into a 1990s photos he'd taken of himself on a visit to New York City. His friends returned the favor by placing Peter photographically at every disaster they could think of, including the Titanic, the movie "Speed" (on the bus, natch)... and the Hindenberg. (I didn't know he was also at Lincoln's assassination!)
    More famous fakes are here, if you enjoy this sort of thing, and here. Plus a fascinating article on the ethics of photojournalism and 'editing.' (Not to mention giving both National Geographic and Sports Illustrated a black eye for their fancy footwork in this department.)

Well, I Feel That Way on Mondays, Too...

Oops, Discovery is late. Overcast skies and rain have delayed the space shuttle's landing until tomorrow -- early, around sunrise EST. If you're in that select handful of Midwestern/Heartland states (see my post last night), you still may be able to see it go streaking across the sky. Wish I could...darn it. 

Oh, and George Washington owes a boatload of overdue fines. He borrowed two books more than 220 years ago from the New York Library Society, and never returned them. Bad boy! 

A beautiful day here -- and almost perfectly still. Perfect for putting in rosebushes and tomato plants. Yes, tomatoes -- I am not a moron. I know they could freeze. I've got my secret weapon, though: Wall O Water covers that surround the plants and keep them warm. The rest of the planting will be your typical cool temps stuff: spinach, peas and onions. Can't wait until it gets warmer!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Discovery's Coming In!

...but you'll have to be up mighty early on Monday morning to see the space shuttle streak across the sky. (If you're in one of a handful of Midwestern states, that dice for Colorado.) It's scheduled to land about 9 a.m. EST.

But if you're in the right state -- and happen to be up early (or late) enough to read this, take a look at the post. (According to the article, it will look something like a meteor.) I'd love to see it come in!

Godspeed, Discovery.

Standing On Your Own Two Feet

My buddette One Frugal Girl asks an interesting question: "How much do you (or did you) rely on your parents for money?"

To answer her question, my folks were very generous about money -- but I tried very, very hard not to ask them for any. I worked all through high school at a hardware store to help pay for college -- and my incidentals. Worked again part-time through college, and took care of a family home for room and board in grad school. I had scholarships, which helped too, but I know the folks paid for my schooling, as well. I was unaware of how much until during an argument, Brother said he'd been at the kitchen table watching my mom sob, wondering how they were going to pay the latest college bill. (I was TOTALLY clueless about this until Brother said something -- they'd never mentioned it. Boy, did I feel guilty..)

Dad was 100% Dutch on both sides of the family, and held onto his pennies until they screamed in protest. Mom and he planted their own food, raised their own beef and pork, and taught us to take advantage of garage sales and hand-me-downs. More importantly, though, they believed in the value of an good, honest name...that you could walk into any situation with your head high, because you worked hard for your money, didn't lie, cheat or steal. They were Christians, and emphasized that this was the best way to honor God, as well as living your life.

That meant standing on your own two feet, regardless of how tight your money got. (One memorable Christmas, pretty much all of the family presents came from the thrift shop -- but we made it through.) Early in our marriage, we borrowed money a few times from the folks and Husband's mom. But we paid it back with interest, on time.  I still believe in the value of this -- fortunately, I married a man who also thought it was important. We've tried our darndest to pass the value of a good, frugal, honest name and reputation on to the girlies, too.

Now that Dad is gone (more than a year now), Mom's Social Security income was cut in half. She seems to be doing ok...I've noticed that her purchases have been much more careful for some time now. On the other hand, they were cutting back even when Dad was alive -- having cancer for three years, especially if you're self-employed, isn't exactly conducive to preserving income. They were saved by a special insurance policy that covered only cancer, in addition to their regular policy.

Does Mom have enough to live on? So far. (Brother is more worried about it than I am.) But I try to pay for meals when I go back to Michigan, (When she lets me -- pride is important in the DeVries household!) I pay her for any work done for Brickworks. And I've regularly sent a small check that she can use for lunches out or a goodie now and then. She and Dad took such good care of us that it seems only fair now.

What about you? What was your situation like? Have things changed at all for your children, because of this?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Very Strange Museum

We've been watching this odd show, "World's Creepiest Places." Today, it once again brought up a place I have always wanted to visit: the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia.

It started as a medical resource, but now holds some of the strangest medical specimens anywhere, including tumors, strange bodies, oddly-shaped organs...even the body of a woman that's turned to soap! 

For photos of some of the stranger exhibits, including a monster colon and Grover Cleveland's jaw tumor, go here, for a visitor's take on the subject. Or take a virtual tour.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Home Redecorating - Fast

Got just a little time? The Nester's got a whole set of ideas on how to fix up your living room in ten minutes. (Yep, you read that right -- 600 seconds!) The comments are great, too.

Don't miss her related posts on ten minutes for the bathroom and other rooms in the house, either. Now that the piles are starting to disappear from the dining room, I plan on doing some work in this vein this weekend!

Rain, Rain, Come Today

Ha ha...the joke's on me. Overcast most of the day -- not a raindrop in sight.

At least I can still grow flowers on paper, thanks to antique postcards like this:

It's Going to Rain!

We get precipitation so rarely here, that rainy days are greeted with anticipation. No having to water. No getting heatstroke from the sun pouring in your windshield. And best of all, fresh, sweet air, clean sidewalks and refreshed plants. Snow shouldn't be mixed in with the rain, either, since temps are staying above 40 degrees. (We hope.) I think we'll have a fire in the fireplace tonight to celebrate.

News Note: A very cool Roman-style mummy sarcophagus was discovered at a remote Egyptian oases. Includes photos and a careful description. (And yes, there seems to be a body inside.) This guys are rare -- take a look.

Places to go, people to see, things to do. I'd better get to it. Have a great weekend yerself.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Earn Amazon Gift Cards -- Fast!

This post explains a batch of things to try....I've earned five gift cards, so far, from Swagbucks, and you can, too -- just click on the 'join' button (far right) on my Swagbucks 'Swidget,' on the top right of this blog. All you do are the same searches you always do -- only Swagbucks rewards you for doing them!

And to those of you who follow my other Saving Site's starting up again, with tips, hints, coupons and specials for saving $$. Which we can all use on Tax Day!

Excuse Me While I Go Take My Top Off

Boulder, Colorado is an interesting place. Husband and I lived for a few years there while he went to the University of Colorado. Both girlies also attended CU -- Daughter #2 works at El Loro, a wonderful jewelry/incense/shoe boutique on the Pearl Street Mall. (My level of jewelry sophistication has increased by leaps and bounds as a result. Thanks, Petunia!)

I used to work at the Daily Camera, Boulder's newspaper, and often ate lunch out on the mall. It wasn't uncommon to see every level of homeless person wandering around. (My favorite: the guy in the kilt who fished out pizza crusts from the trash, then peaceably ate them next to the latest tourist enjoying their current slice.) Buskers -- entertainment artists who did everything from play instruments to tightrope walking -- were common, as well as your usual mix of suits and shorts, tourists, students and businesspeople. Odd clothes, wild hair, strange tattoos? Sure, you betcha. Individuals whose cookies weren't in the same jar? Absolutely. There were some bizarre happenings, but generally I was ok.

Daughters' friends have been way more involved with things I do have trouble with -- drugs and alcohol, especially. I have seen far too many people's lives and futures destroyed because they got bombed, did something stupid, and got caught. Even if it was done just once, they pay -- and pay -- and pay.

I had a good friend in high school who smoked pot regularly. In my freshman year, he was clever and bright -- I couldn't wait every morning in homeroom to see what smart remark he would make. Junior year, he just sat there like a lump. By the time we graduated, the only future he seemed to have was -- more drugs. I promised myself, watching him deteriorate, that I would never try them. And I never have.

How then could I believe that Boulder's casual attitude about the use -- and overuse -- of drugs and alcohol would be the right thing to do?  

Now a new twist to this uninhibited Boulder approach: enter Catharine Pierce, a woman who enjoys gardening in thong and garden gloves -- nothing else. She says it's part of her religion, that she's 'worshipping.' (Incidentally, her husband enjoys a similar unclad status.) One could argue that she wasn't doing anything wrong, but she doesn't want to garden out back this way -- she prefers out front. Yes, the Pierces' home faces a public street. Kids live on the block. An elementary school and park are nearby.

People complained. A patrolman who dared to suggest she put a top on was reported as violating their civil rights. The Boulder Housing Authority, who owns the couple's place, threatened to evict them -- but backed off, because she is not totally nude. (If you're asking if this is low-income housing, subsidized by our tax dollars, I'm pretty sure you're right.)

Boulder has had a pretty blase approach to nudity in the past -- the occasional zoned-out junkie, streaker, and so on. (There's even a website dedicated to all the weird things in Boulder, some of them done naked.) The crowning moment is the annual Pumpkin Run around Halloween, wherein college students strip to the buff and tear down the street with carved pumpkins on their heads. (Don't ask. Daughter #1's buddies have been part of this merry band. Warning -- don't watch this video unless you don't mind lots of 'bouncing bits.') Only in Boulder would this statement be made, after Halloween 2009, when Boulder's police chief threatened to arrest runners as sex offenders:

     Runners and their fans are outraged. This is not the free-spirited Boulder they know and love. "It kind of reminds me of what's happening in Tehran," says Andy Schmidt, a lawyer. "They're pre-emptively outlawing a gathering."
The American Civil Liberties Union has fired off a letter accusing the police of violating citizens' constitutional rights to express whatever it is they're expressing when they slip hollowed-out pumpkins over their heads and race buck naked down the Pearl Street pedestrian mall.

(In case you're wondering, 'Free Speech' took a hit last year. Instead of 2008's hundred runners, only three ran, and their naughty bits were covered by 'censored' signs. Which was just fine with the cops.)

Well, the Boulder City Council has spoken on the Pierce issue, and the word is this: it's not illegal to go topless (male or female), provided genitals are covered. That covers everybody from geezers to kids ages 10 or older. (Poor old Pierce's husband -- he has to cover up whatever thrills he can provide!)

I don't think of myself as a prude. In fact, I know WAY more than I want to about other people's bodies, strange hobbies and sex habits than I really want. I'm not shocked by the Pumpkin runners. (Though it's amusing that the prancers are 20s-something types -- where are the equally free-spirited professors through all this?) Kids do weird stuff...but it's usually brief, and soon regretted.

What does bother me, though, are the instructions. If you're bothered by this show of nipples, "just don't look." What's next? Ignore the couple having sex on the park bench? Step around the guy who's ODed on the front lawn? Dismiss the guy who's beating his girlfriend to death with a baseball bat? (After all, it's not my problem.) When someone else's right to expression and privacy infringes on my own, does that mean theirs gets the upper hand?

Apparently in Boulder -- yes.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Free Food at Boston Market -- and the Rockies Taco Bell Special is Back!

Buy one plate's worth, get a second absolutely free at Boston Market!

Use this coupon to do it. Offer's only good from April 15-18...yet another goodie connected with Tax Day, I guess.

Starbucks is also saying they'll fill your travel mug with coffee free on April 15. Good for them.You'll find other Tax Day food specials here. Enjoy.

And for the half of Coloradoans in the state who live on 'em when the Rockies or Nuggets are winning -- the Taco Bell special is back. Whenever the Rockies hit 7 or more runs, get four tacos for $1 (you have to order a drink too, but we always got the 'small') the next day, from 4-6 p.m. Read about it here.

The special's good whenever the Nuggets score more than 100, too...but you only get 3 tacos for that buck! 

It's dead still outside -- kind of creepy. I may not enjoy all the wind we've been having lately, but I apparently have gotten used to hearing it. Husband and I just looked at each other blearily, and said, "Fine -- let's file an extension." We promised each other to finish up the taxes quickly, regardless.

Hodgepodge Higgledy (Piggledy)

Here's a second bunch of interesting-but-I-can't-figure-out-a-link stuff, for your mental hopper:

*An extremely helpful post on copyrights and general use by Morna Golletz, of Professional Quilter fame. In general, the rule is "if it's not yours, it's not ok to copy, unless you get permission." Morna mentions a lecturer who covers this topic beautifully -- then hands out photocopied pages of an article she didn't get permission to use! The major exception to this rule would be items from 1923 or before. Easy to follow, well worth the time.

*Cheap Healthy Good has a practical guide to choosing, clipping and using coupons -- not just in paper form, but automatically loaded on your rewards card.

*Crazy Aunt Purl is sewing on a button, and making it look harder than it is. (See her April 9 post.)

*The Mysterious Ways e-newsletter from Guideposts magazine. This comes once a week, with odd, quirky stories of 'coincidences' and such. I don't believe in New Age channeling -- I do believe in angels. There have been far too many strange circumstances. God makes it clear in the Bible that thinking celestial beings -- good AND bad -- not only exist, but appear periodically in our human dimension. As a Christian, then, I'd be foolish NOT to believe. Anyhoo, you'll find this story of Alice the nurse especially intriguing.

*Top Ten Christmas Stocking Stuffers for the family. Yes, I know it's April. It doesn't hurt to plan ahead. (I can just feel Husband laughing hysterically about this...)

*The same archive as above has  -- for business owners, small and otherwise -- a very helpful Top Ten list for tax deductions, too. Great for planning for this year. Not that I could use any tax tips or help right now...ahem!

*National parks across the country are FREE ADMISSION April 17-25! (This website mentions other free days too, and some special offers.) Rocky Mountain National Park is only a few hours away from us, and the YMCA at Estes Park is running a terrific 'Buy 2, Get a 3rd Night Free' special. Tempting, very tempting.

Yesterday's wind smashed a bird feeder, rolled our garbage cans everywhere, and trashed one of my garden tripods. Even the dogs were looking nervous! Still windy today, but at least it's in more normal bounds. Thankfully. Taxes and appraisals call -- off I go.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Gone With the Wind...

...and in keeping with the fine tradition of the last post --

(not to mention it's VERY Funny!)

Carol Burnett's "Went With the Wind," Part I.

Here's Part II, when you've stopped laughing...

Stuff on the Way to Other Stuff...Grab It Before It Blows Away!

Pillsbury's announced its latest Bake-Off Finalists! Dishes  range from ice cream cookie cups to fish dishes. And don't they look good -- past years' recipes have included some truly strange combinations, but these look like something Husband and the girlies would actually eat!

Want some gardening friends to keep you company? Dirt Du Jour gives a whole shovelful of bloggers via the Mouse & Trowel Awards. I'd love reading steady blogger who deals with the conditions we put up with here in Colorado -- very little water, blazing sun, shorter growing seasons.

Save money on travel -- airfare, hotels, package trips, whatever! If you haven't signed up for Travelzoo's 'Top 20' list (published every Wednesday), run, don't walk to the site and sign up. Good deals can still be had...not everything may be good for your area, but the listings are well worth reading through. Here's a sample list -- and a chance to sign up.

I thought we'd already had the worst of the winds...ha. A client stopped by this morning, and could barely stand upright on our front porch. All the garbage cans and my tripod trellis (which has survived blizzards and bad weather) are flat on the ground, and a sheet nearly blew out of the yard before I could grab it. We're talking at least 40 mph, and I'm thinking closer to 60 mph. Very scary...especially to someone who grew up in Tornado Land. I keep saying to myself, 'You are fine. You are not going downstairs to the basement.'

If I disappear, look for me there -- curled up in a fetal position and muttering to myself. Crazy wind.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Storage Dilemmas

I woke up early from our traditional Sunday afternoon nap...and started thinking. I need to Do Something About Stuff -- we have way too much. Hmmm. Do I need to buy some bookshelves on Craiglist...would that help? (Or maybe just get rid of some of our piles of books...) Would more boxes help? How about changing one room into a storage room, and just build shelves on every wall?

Obviously, others are thinking about this problem -- because this post about 15 storage ideas under ten bucks showed up on Wise Bread, a good all-purpose site for a wide range of subjects. (Keep reading further down on the post for links to other ideas.)

Or maybe a smaller house, so I'm forced to stop stuffing things in? With a separate building for the business?

Or...keep using the bottom half of our current house for the business, and turn the garage into that studio I've been craving? (It does have beautiful brick walls, and the wooden rafters are aged and quite lovely.) We don't park any of the vehicles in it, and I've been meaning to clean it out, anyways.

Wish I knew what to do.

* * * * *
Here's a quirky article about people who take couponing a tad too far. I've found an easy solution to this temptation:
       *cut the coupons out
       *hang onto them, until you find those items on sale...then REALLY save money
       *what -- those things never went on sale? If they're not items you use regularly now, throw the coupons away.

Problem solved.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Attack Kitty!'s only Daughter #2's boyfriend Keith, and their irrepressible feline, Kitty. Who loves Little Friskies to the point of distraction, and is not above biting ankles and being generally obnoxious to get her point across.

We're working on taxes. Shoot, I feel generally obnoxious right now!

Friday, April 9, 2010

A New Blog Worth Visiting

Yes, I have been fooling around again. Partly waiting for the Swagbucks code (which finally posted!), and partly because I am a Bad Girl.

But in the process, I found a delightful British blog called Domestic Sluttery. They specialize in techniques, recipes and such that make you look more accomplished than you really are -- the perfect spot for me! Take a look at this way easy-to-make fruit basket that makes good use of pencils. (And pens. Knitting needles. Chopsticks...anything long and narrow. Stores them at the same time.) I was instantly thinking yarn basket, paperwork holder, and more.

I found it via Penny-Go-Lightly, a more commercial blog, but still worth looking at occasionally.

I plan on heading to both blogs often -- after my work is done, of course!! :)

Old Textiles Worth A Second Look!

Some wonderful old handkerchiefs are up for sale on Ebay right now, including an 1820s 'Quartern Loaf' picture hankie. Once you get done looking at it, click on the seller's "other items," and you'll note several other beauties, including an intriguing 'Who Killed Cock Robin' piece, and several others that feature birds and horses, as well as small boys. (Some collector must have had very specific parameters.) Expensive -- but these old ones tend to be that way now. Sigh.

And don't miss a look at this wholecloth salmon pink 'calimancoe,' dating back to 1786. It's just been cleaned and stabilized -- $10,000 was spent on conservation!

It's warm, sunny...but a chilly wind knifes through every now and then. Try doing anything like the lovey couples below...and you'd freeze your tixer off. Car's in the shop -- another $650 bill, on top of an $850 bill three weeks ago. (Husband came home for lunch, and said they'd replace our windshield AGAIN -- it was cracked within two days of its replacement three weeks ago -- for $100. Add that to the total. Double sigh.)  A good time to stay home, I guess, and keep finishing up some of those 'time debt' issues mentioned in the last few posts.

Have yourself a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Collective Frugal Wisdom - 19 Ways

How often do you get the combined life lessons of 19 bloggers in one post? Especially when their central focus is often frugal living. Here's your chance -- look here.

One of the posters includes one of my favorites, Frugal Babe, and the subjects include 'when are you being just plain cheap, rather than frugal?' Well worth reading.

Another favorite, One Frugal Girl, is on a 'discard 50 items' kick. She sees it as an excellent way to jump-start a cleaner, less-cluttered life. I'm all for that! I didn't get rid of 50 things yesterday, but half a dozen boxes went out for the trash, a bunch of things got put away, and I vaccummed up weeks' worth of paper bits and sequins. Who knows what else will disappear from the Brick household?

The best of the batch today, though, is Get Rich Slowly's take on what they call "time-debt:" running out of time, due to mis-prioritizing or overscheduling. This post points out the importance of including relaxing and -- most importantly -- spending time with people you lose -- in your available hours. I confess that 'time-debt' has been one of my major struggles this week, to the point that I stopped answering the phone days ago....partly because we've been looking for car and homeowner's insurance quotes, and every insurance rep in the country suddenly decided we needed a phone call. Aarghghghgh. Can't they use e-mail?? I promise, though, that I will return every one of the calls that actually need returning. And I have gotten several things done that needed finishing. Hopefully the balance will come back soon.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Really, Really Old Quilt

I might as well long for white instead of green, for a while -- because we're going to get it. 

The mountains are being spanked with snow right now, and it's heading our way tonight. Already the wind banging around the house has a cold edge. (It was clocking more than 60 mph down south last night; we had a paltry 35 mph or so.) The poor flowers already up are huddling into themselves and trying to hang on.

It IS Spring...right?

Take a look at this wonderful wholecloth piece, c.1400, from the Victoria & Albert Museum. It is thought to be one of the oldest -- if not the oldest -- surviving quilts. It features romantic trapunto details of the courtly legend of Tristan and Isolde.If I am remembering correctly, this quilt is one of a pair -- the second is in Italy, and was rediscovered when it was used in the early 20th century on a servant's bed during a cold snap.

I'd better go find my own snuggly blanket. And soon.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Longing for Green

It's finally coming up -- the backyard bed has daffodils laughing in it, and the hyacinths are finally blooming. But if I had the cojones to go out there and dig, the dirt would just smash back in my face. It's got to be blowing 30 mph out there.

The bed's ready to plant...maybe tomorrow morning, when the wind dies down. In the meantime, you could enjoy another Coloradoan's garden tales.

And I'm headed out to put the sheets on the line -- and watch them blow to Kansas.

Easter, Hungarian Style

Our friends Joel and Cynthia are missionaries in Budapest. Here's their take on celebrating Easter. (Note the interesting custom!)
            Boldog Husvét Hétfö! Happy Easter Monday! In Hungary today our friends are celebrating Easter Monday. It is a national holiday, and all the stores and businesses are closed. On Friday our Catholic neighbors went to mass, where the crucifix was decorated with flowers and laid upon the altar. On Saturday they carried baskets of ham, decorated eggs, bread and wine to the church to be blessed by the priest, and after the celebration of mass the crucifix was paraded through the streets. On Easter the church bells rang out the news of the resurrection and every family feasted on ham and eggs and poppy seed rolls. The word for Easter in Hungarian, Husvét, means meaty, because everyone eats meat after a long Lenten fast. Easter is celebrated in similar ways in Catholic countries around the world.
            But the celebration of Easter Monday in Hungary is unique. On our first Easter Monday in Budapest, Catherine enjoyed the holiday from school by going on a long walk through Diósd with her girl friends. She came home after an hour smelling of cheap perfume and told us how groups of boys had chased the girls through the streets of the village, spraying them with scent. She did not know that this was a compliment, and that the boys expected to receive a red decorated egg and perhaps even a kiss in return.
            No one is sure how this Hungarian tradition began, but it does not seem likely that it was a pagan custom, because it did not start until 400 years after the country became a Christian nation. It is probable that it started with the sprinkling of fragrant holy water by priests to bless believers’ homes on Easter Monday. In ancient Hungarian villages the young men would drag girls they liked to the village well or creek and pour buckets of water over their heads. Today groups of young men will travel from house to house, or roam the streets, sprinkling the women they favor with scent. At each house they will be offered pastries and palinka (Hungarian brandy) and given red eggs. The stores sell chocolate eggs wrapped in red foil which can also be given as a reward for the privilege of being baptized in cheap perfume.

Are You Buying Based on Who You Are?

J.D. at Get Rich Slowly has an intriguing post on this subject today -- are you spending money on items that will help you with your current hobbies and interests, or are you buying stuff based on what (or who) you would like to be?

Confession Time. I buy and borrow a wide variety of books on practically every subject under heaven -- especially historical subjects. History and me, we're buds. What can I say.

BUT -- I volunteer at our local thrift shop, which gives me hardcovers and paperbacks for 10 cents each. My other purchases are generally at the library's used booksale -- 50 cent paperbacks, $2 hardcovers. On occasion, I'll buy books, CDs and DVDs on Amazon, but only if they're heavily discounted or used.

I'll also purchase books from Ebay, but they're the oddball antique type needed for research (or my Charles Dickens obsession). I just bought three bound volumes of Dickens' magazine Household Words (1850s date) for a little over $80. I've bought a lot of Godey's Lady's Books and Peterson's Magazines the same way -- one-of-a-kind pieces, bought on the cheap, that I could resell for more.

That's been the hidden plus of all these books -- while on the prowl, I've bumbled across several books that I sold for literally dollars on the penny on Amazon and Ebay. Several boxes of books have been donated back to the library, giving us a nice little tax break.

I used to buy a lot of quilting-related gadgets -- no more. A rotary cutter, mat, scissors, thread and my trusty Featherweight are my mainstays. (Although I have a heck of a time staying away from the embellishments -- threads, trims, fancy buttons and such. To my students' benefit.) I've been slowly working my way through the gardening stuff, especially seeds, that I stockpiled. (Although I'd still love to get my hands on a composting barrel! Anyone want to swap?) 

Perhaps the key is being aware of what you spend on what...and why. Can you afford it? Has it made you a better, more informed person? Have your skills improved because of it ? Have you not used it for a year or more? (That one's a huge kicker for me.) Could you resell it for more, if you had to?

I'm getting better at walking away from Good Stuff, even if it's on sale, if I don't need it. My current spending habits are much better. Now to get get rid of some of the flotsam and jetsam of past Bargains...

Goodby, Catherine Anthony

Another quilter has Left the Building.

I did not know Catherine Anthony, except by reputation -- she was a fellow AQS appraiser, and well-respected in the quilting world. I've worked with her daughter Libby on several occasions...and if Libby is anything like her mom, I've missed out on something wonderful. 

Here's Catherine's obituary, so you can learn more about her, too.

CATHERINE WARREN HENRY ANTHONY passed away on March 29, 2010 in Houston, TX. She was proud to be a fifth generation Texan and a resident of Houston all of her adult life. Born in Nixon, TX, she graduated as the Valedictorian of her class from Edna High School. Catherine earned a B.A. in 1946 from Rice University, majoring in biology and chemistry, where she met her husband of 61 years, James Phillip Anthony, Jr.

Catherine was a member of the Rice Historical Society, and she and Jim enjoyed numerous international trips with Rice University alumni groups.Catherine was an accomplished quilt artist, instructor, lecturer, and judge around the country and internationally. She was a certified member of the Professional Association of Appraisers of Quilted Textiles, and was the author of two books on quilt blocks, and another book featuring her special area of expertise, Amish Expressions: Patterns for Small Quilts. She also co-authored two books on quilting techniques with her daughter, Libby Lehman.

The "Quilt Patch", a retail quilt store, was co-founded and owned by Catherine for twelve years. Her distinct personal style was beautifully displayed in a series of quilts she made honoring accomplished women of Houston. She also used her skill in balanced design, color, and impeccable workmanship to create peaceful garden areas with plants, rocks and fountains as her "fabrics". She enjoyed friendship and loving support in a Quilt Group that has gathered monthly for over 30 years.

She was an expert on Native American Indian jewelry, sharing a specialty jewelry business called "Sacha Traders" with her daughter, Sarah Davis.Catherine and Jim were longtime members of Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church and the Houston Racquet Club. Some of their favorite spots were the family vacation homes in Santa Fe, NM, Lake Livingston, and summer visits to Cow Creek Ranch in Pecos, NM.

Catherine was a super organized, loving and fair mother, raising her four daughters and many "fifth" daughters. (You know who you are!).Known as "Mrs. A.", Catherine served as a Girl Scout leader for Troop 307 from Brownies at Hunters Creek Elementary to Senior Scouts at Memorial High School. She led many campouts at Camp Arnold, Robinwood, and Peach Creek, sailing adventures at Casa Mare, trips to Estes Park, and canoeing trips on the Guadalupe River. Catherine was also instrumental in helping start the "Six Flags over Texas" Trail Ride, a week long ride from Victoria to San Antonio.

Catherine is preceded in death by her husband James P. Anthony, Jr., parents B.G. and Anna Beth Henry, sister, Ellen Drushel, and her grand-daughter Catherine Lehman. She is survived by daughters and sons-in-law Libby and Lester Lehman, Cathy and Bill Arnold, Ellen and Bill Askey, and Sarah Davis. She is also survived by grandchildren Susan and Ron Gutierrez, Lester Lehman, Jr., Phillip and Debbie Askey, Chelsa Davis, Justin Davis, Elizabeth and Richard Dennis, and great grandchildren Abbigail, Bailey, Carlee, and Cameron Gutierrez, Morgan and Harrison Askey, and Cate Dennis. Catherine will be also missed by her nieces and their husbands, Jim and Carol Arter and Dr. Jim and Margie McClamroch, and her caregiver and friend Marlena Limon. Donations can be made to My Friends Foundation, a charity for children in crisis, P. O. Box 25294, Houston, TX 77265.

Published in Houston Chronicle from March 30 to March 31, 2010 
 You will be missed, Catherine.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!!

Christ is Risen.

He is Risen, Indeed.

Did you know that Simon of Cyrene, the man who was forced to carry Christ's cross to Golgatha, is traditionally said to have been an egg merchant? And when he got back, his eggs had turned into a rainbow of colors, in honor of the Savior?

And that, friends, is another reason why eggs (a symbol of rebirth and new life) are connected with Easter.

Neither girlie could make it home for dinner -- they both had to work. After Husband did Worship Team duties (I was off) at church, we went to friend Constance's, Easter lily and a basket of blueberry walnut muffins in hand. A nice, relaxing even more relaxing nap...aahhh.

I still missed the girlies...but it couldn't be helped.

Hope your Easter was a meaningful and relaxing one.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

One More Addition...

To Quirks of Nature:

What Cats Really Think.

I wonder what our Weimaraners are musing about?

Quirks of Nature

Husband and his friend Thommy are finally meeting to discuss where they're going for hunting season this year. Daughter #2, who is planning on going with, as well as yours truly, has been fussing at them for weeks to Put Up or Shut Up...and Decide! After all, the deadline is a only a few days away.

I guess I should be grateful they're getting it taken care of. (On the other hand, I have a sneaking suspicion they're also watching a Final Four basketball game while they're 'discussing.') Why, why, why do they have to wait until the nth moment to do it?? These and other life's mysteries keep me puzzled...

In the hunters' honor, here are some other nature-based goodies, courtesy of the Internet:

A mule deer record, taken in Colorado. (I've never seen horns so fuzzy before. Usually the velvet's rubbed off by then.)
Another muley of record proportions...but they can't figure out if it's a deer, an elk...or even a buck!
A world record elk -- IF the authorities accepted that it came from Texas (which isn't supposed to have many elk, and doesn't have a hunting season for them), and IF it wasn't a release from a ranch years ago (looks like it may have been)
    I guess you can see what kind of game licenses Husband and Thommy are gunning for, based on my choices...

On another note, take a close-up gander at an eagle's nest, thanks to Excel. Their live cams are fascinating, including eagles', hawks' and owls' nests! One of the eagle's nests has two nestlings, and a third is expected any day. The eagle cams are only up through May -- you'll want to stop by now and then to see how the kids are doing.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Hunting for Treasure in the Strangest Places

One of the best?

An old privy.

Because of the soft nature of "night soil," (ahem) bottles and such often didn't break. It was also common to move the outhouse after the pit became 'full.' (Do I need to go further?)

When Coors Field was excavated in Denver, a few outhouse pits were uncovered...and descended on by eager diggers. You don't think much about this, unless you love the color and varied shapes of old glassware. Then it's a history-lover's dream.
     I just found Dump Diggers, a blog for enthusiasts of this art. There's even a book on the subject ("Digging Up the Past, One Yard At A Time") on these 'toilet treasures.' (Here's another website to whet your interest, as well.)

Husband and I have practiced it some, from putzing around in the backyard of a guy who dug all sorts of things out of old mining towns (and dumped the excess or blemished in his backyard), to an old dump uncovered for a while on the banks of Boulder Creek, while the bike path was being improved on. (I brought home all sorts of cool dish shards from that trip.)

I even tried digging out the site of Ma and Pa's farm's old outhouse by the barn, to the accompaniment of many hoots of laughter. Got the bottom of a pickle glass urn, which I still use for a soap dish. Nothing else, though -- but my grandparents and great-grandparents were dedicated teetotallers. Darn it.

Good Friday, Past and Present

Today commemorates the anniversary of Good Friday, when Jesus Christ hung on the cross, died and was buried -- an ironic twist to call it 'good,' but it's meant just that way -- that we could not hope to reach God without His caring sacrifice.

The traditions of celebrating this earth-changing event have been around for a long time. When I was a kid, people took off work in the late morning to go to services; I remember seeing everyone from businessmen in suits to my dad in greasy working clothes (he was a tractor mechanic) in the pews. Here in Colorado, our church service is at night. If we went to the Catholic church, our day might include a walk through the Stations of the Cross, the steps toward Jesus' crucifixion...or at least a climb up a hill, a strong Hispanic tradition.

The weather is acting very strange. The mountains had a big snowstorm, complete with a huge traffic pileup around Vail...but we didn't get a drop. Today, we have the same intense wind as from yesterday -- but ice-cold. And the sun seems a little subdued, as if a light veil were drawn across it. I can remember very few Good Fridays when the weather didn't seem a bit 'down' or odd, especially in the morning (9 a.m. - noon), the approx. time Jesus hung on the cross.
     Is the earth remembering?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Fool!

Today would have been my dad's 76th birthday. The poor guy, he spent every year enduring practical jokes. Mom's favorite trick was putting salt in the sugarbowl, which Dad dipped into every morning for his coffee. I don't think he forgot every year, which the Mama liked to say. I think he knew how much of a kick she got out of it, and just went along with the gag.

Underwear sewn together, plastic wrap in his ham sandwich, strange phone calls from Mr. Fox (at the zoo) name it, he got it.

Here are some other famous April Fool jokes, for your amusement. (And inspiration?) If you want the full top 100 list, here it is, courtesy of the Museum of Hoaxes.

Happy Birthday, Pa, with love from your kids.

Underwater Towns

...did you know there are more than twenty of these alone in America?

Most disappeared when dams were built, and reservoirs flooded. Some reappear during times of drought. (Like this Venezualan town whose church, town cemetary and demolished houses are suddenly turning up again.)

We used to live up in the mountains in Nederland, CO, above the Barker reservoir. Which holds the remains of more than a few miners' cabins and ranches. It was a bit shivery to think what could be left underwater.

Long ago, I read a novel about a submerged town, and the secrets it held. While Internet surfing, I've been watching Beneath Still Waters, a movie on SyFy. It's all about some weird evil  in -- you guessed it -- a Spanish town that ended up underwater four decades ago. Maybe it's because it's early in the morning (about 1:30 a.m.), but it does seem more creepy than the average grab-your-ankle underwater flick. (Until the inevitable attorney or Viagra commercial intrudes, that is.)

If you're curious about this little-discussed subject, try this website, as well as this one.  You can even visit some of the towns -- if you've got scuba equipment!


Getting Back Into the Swing of Things

We got home early Monday morning from the teaching gig...but it sure hasn't been quiet. I've had at least one meeting (usually more) every. single. day. Whew. At least it included time spent with both girlies; incidentally, they both got their Easter baskets delivered, with a big sigh of relief from the Mama (who thought I'd sluff off and forget).

Thankfully, tomorrow breaks the pattern. I have a lot to get done...but I can actually do it at home!

Kelly of Almost Frugal has a great post on making something out of nothing. Its basic gist: what can you cook up from your pantry without spending a lot of extra money? I was thinking about this while standing in King Soopers this afternoon, holding a fistful of coupons set to expire tomorrow. Suddenly, though, I realized that several of those coupons applied to freezer meals King Soopers had put on clearance, or on sale...or both! Whoo hoo! The upshot was at least seven or eight meals, as well as bags of frozen veggies, stashed away -- more than enough to give me a break now and then the next few weeks, while clearing away biz stuff and finishing up the manuscript of Hanky Panky with a Flourish. (Some of the quilts are being photographed this week, with another batch scheduled in a bit.) And the most anything cost: a little more than $5 for a full, veggie-filled meal for two. (Most were $3.99 or less.) A chance to work, without worrying about food prep? For right now, that's bliss.

The bad part -- Husband and I picked up some kind of flu bug during my recent gig. It would be nice not to have to deal with this headache (going on and off for the past three days now), the occasional fever, or the fatigue. So far, though, whatever this current floppiness is, I can deal with it in this form. The flu's been spreading through town at an astonishing rate -- my teacher buddy Constance spent a full week at home with it, snuffling, headachy and miserable. So far, whatever it's doing in my body is bearable.