Wednesday, February 24, 2010

God's Little Flowerpot

By now, you've read the previous, pity-filled account. But maybe, as my colleague Brin of Messy Thrilling Life points out, this is just God's way of getting me to stretch -- and grow.  (At least it's working that way in her life.)

I sure hope so.

Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival, Here I am (Finally)

It's lovely here.

The quilts are bright bits of color and pattern everywhere. (Pat Holly's Paisley Peacock was a real standout -- so was a beautiful pictorial of a Paris street scene, a dandelion pictorial wall quilt, an amazing woolen outfit -- all recycled from the owner's college clothes -- and surprisingly, a close-up triple view of a cat labeled the 'Dirty Harry of the feline world.' That quilt's name was "Do you think you're lucky, Punk -- do ya, huh?") I don't think I have seen as much consistently good workmanship in a long time. (A gentle reminder: not keeping your quilting even throughout the quilt -- doesn't matter if you're quilting a lot or a little, just be consistent -- will give your piece the impetus to RIPPLE big-time along the bottom!)

Especially since these are fresh out of the boxes, and it's been raining off and on for quite some time, leading to a higher humidity. The streets shine like fresh-minted pennies, and the skies are blueberry and black raspberry swirls, gleaming.

But the monkey of discouragement has been on my back the past few days...and he's heavy. (He ain't my brother!)  I got bumped off the plane I was supposed to take to Virginia -- so instead ended up taking the last plane possible from Denver, got into Atlanta around 9:30 p.m....and the last flight to Newport News was only about 10 minutes later. (And would have cost another $230-plus.) I did what seemed practical at the time: spend the night in the Atlanta airport, then take the first flight in Tuesday morning.

Considering I'd only get a few hours of sleep at a hotel before having to turn around and come back, I opted to spread out some of the quilts in my suitcase, and sleep at the airport. It wasn't as bad as it sounds, except for some maintenance guys' tendency to break into passionate song when nearby! (One of the selections last night was a very nice baritone version of "Some Enchanted Evening.")

I grabbed my suitcases at baggage claim, jumped in a taxi and made it to the conference center at 10:30 a.m. this morning, only to find out I'd been replaced as a judge. (I'm guessing they did it within an hour of when I first called Monday afternoon from Denver. So in a way, even if I'd spent the extra money and managed to catch the flight, it wouldn't have mattered.) I can't blame them at all -- I was late, and judging started earlier that morning. But to spend sooo much time in airports getting here, as well as being a little punch-drunk, anyways, from fatigue and hustling to get here...

As The Mama pointed out...it couldn't be helped. But it sure was a discouraging way to start the week. I've got a Quilts of the Golden West class tomorrow, plus a lecture right after class...my busiest day. And the one-year anniversary of my dad's death, as well. It's going to be a long one.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday Misc.

A camera spends 15 months drifting around deep sea currents, and turns up in a fisherman's nets. Finally it's returned -- to a South African couple who lost it while on a 25th anniversary cruise aboard the QE2. (It fell overboard when he accidentally jumped up too fast.) The memory card, including nearly 200 photos and a dozen videos, was intact. What a story -- read it here.

And the International Space Station gets a new picture window: the Cupola. (Gee, what I wouldn't give to see this view!) And the Challenger made it back before the next round of storms hits the country. Normally, I'd say this was weird (all the storms, that is), but we often get our heaviest snows in February and March. Which means another month of this would not be uncommon, at all.

A Get Rich Slowly reader's story on how she fought 'lifestyle inflation'-- and won. (A prime reminder that living on less than you make is soooo important...regardless of how much or little you earn.)

And some very apt comments on how to keep going when the going is tough. (This one started the thread. Thanks for sharing, Frugal Babe and Frugal For Life.) This is especially apt, considering Frugal For Life sees a layoff coming in April. We've been through this ourselves -- especially when Husband began as a bus driver, after leaving engineering, and my business was just getting started. We ate a lot of chicken noodle soup and macaroni and cheese, not to mention stuff from the garden. I learned many of the tricks then that I still use to keep our household expenses down. In spite of it being busy (and good for biz) the next few months, we have a $1000-plus auto repair bill hovering on the threshold. Good stuff to remember.

And finally, Mrs. Accountability's story of her frugal grandma. Inspiring.

Back to work...

February Birthdays...and Getting Ready

I'm still here, guys....though we are currently disappearing under a drift of white. It's so cold that the boys rush outside to do their business, then insist on coming in posthaste. They're sleeping now, curlicued next to each other. I don't blame them...it's cold in here, too. We keep the house at somewhere between 62-65 degrees. (Any higher, and I have trouble staying awake.) Looked at the fuel bill this past month, and was discouraged it was so much more than last year -- until I looked at our usage, and realized it was much less. Ye Olde Excel just raised their rates, that's all!

It's been a busy weekend. Husband's 55th birthday was Saturday. Even with more years under his belt, he is still the cute Young Buck he used to be when we met in 1981. I found a photo of him taken in 1984, a summer we spent traveling across the U.S. via motorcycle. And he really hasn't changed that much at all -- just a little more gray around the beard. His family is famous for not going gray -- his mom kept her dark hair into her 70s.

I, on the other hand, come from stock who gray quickly. The Mama was completely white-haired by 60, and I have a big drift of white out front already. It's coming -- maybe I'll look more like the white-streaked blond I used to be!

We took clam chowder, shrimp and pizza to Daughter #1's place, along with a chocolate torte. (Recipe in a bit.) Along with the boys. Imagine a studio apartment with Daughter's dog Jack (a Great Dane mix, and no small puppy himself), as well as two large Weimaraners rushing up and down. Music playing, cooking smells and lots of talking, with Daughters #1 and #2 fussing over their dad. Total, cheerful chaos! Husband enjoyed it...until we had to schlep both Daughters to the bus station, and the apartment keys could not be found. Nowhere. Nohow. (They finally emerged hours later, underneath the bikes in the corner.) 

Add to this our missionary houseguests, and a stint at doing music for the church service that night. What a day. At least Husband, a quiet and modest man, knew his women loved him. And we do.

Husband asked for a chocolate birthday cake -- "the chocolatey-er, the better." This recipe, from Marian Burros' cookbook You've Got It Made, fits the bill. She says she got it from Ventana, a lodge in Big Sur. All I know is that it's deeply fudgy, amazingly fast (less than 10 min.), and looks quite sophisticated. One recipe makes the equivalent of a single layer -- but so rich that it easily makes 16 servings.

VENTANA CHOCOLATE TORTE

5 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup melted butter
3 oz semisweet chocolate chips (about two handfuls)
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate (Substitute 6 tablespoons cocoa, plus 2 tablespoons oil. Or more choc chips)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons orange liqueur (I may put this in -- or not)

Glaze: 
3 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup cream
2 tablespoons butter (fine without this, too)

Turn oven on to 325 degrees, and grease/flour a springform (removable sides) pan. Heat eggs and sugar in a double boiler; beat them until the mixture is lemon-colored and somewhat foamy. (About 5 min.) In the meantime, melt butter and chocolates in the microwave -- about 1 min. Add the cornstarch and flavorings. Stir in the egg mixture, then spoon into the pan. Bake 20-25 min., or until the torte pulls away from the sides. (A toothpick inserted in the center will not come out clean.) Don't overbake. Let cool in pan, then remove the ring.

Melt glaze ingredients in microwave (approx. 1 min), then spread evenly over torte. (A spatula dipped in hot water will give you a smooth finish.) Decorate with chopped nuts, fresh flowers or icing letters.


I've made this so often that the cookbook page is spattered and smeary. YUM.

The sun is struggling to shine through. I have miles to go before I sleep -- had better get to it. Leaving shortly to teach and judge at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival for the rest of the week. There are still a few spots in my classes (plus a lecture that might surprise you -- "Quilts with Secrets") if you're interested! (Go here to find out more information.) I'll be around...have a good week yourself.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Snowball Fight

This one, from the recent blizzards back East, looks like so much fun. If you tried it around here, you'd get as much dirt as snow, though the mountains have gotten more than their share.

No matter -- storm clouds are lurking on the horizon. We're supposed to have a fresh coat of Colorado white, starting later tonight.

Remembering

So...based on comments made on and off the blog, more than yours truly is trying to figure out how to make their own lace fence a reality! :)  We have a 5-foot chainlink fence around the backyard, which keeps the deer out and the boys (our Weimies) in. It is so industrial-looking...hmmm. What if I wove white plastic strips in and out...or used string to 'crochet'... Husband is not big on what he calls "Artsy-fartsy" stuff, so I'm not sure how much I can push the envelope. It already looks a little cluttered and Victorian-y back there. (I've got a thing for raised beds, trailing rose bushes, statues and those wire Eiffel Tower-looking pedestals.)

The Mama has been trying to figure out the exact year of a camping trip we took to California back when I was in middle school. We finally settled on a date -- the summer of 1970 -- because of a strange, isolated memory: we were on Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, and I remember seeing boat after boat containing groups of American Indians. Mom or Dad asked someone, and they said matter-of-factly, "Yeah, all the Indians are going out to Alcatraz."

I'd thought we went to California in 1968 or 1972...but the largest (and longest) occupation of Alcatraz began in Nov. 1969, and kept on for nineteen months. (You can read the 'official' version, courtesy of the National Parks service. But I'd recommend this much more personal account, too.) To a little Michigan farm girl, this was all incredibly exotic, from shrimp cocktail to something she'd never seen (or smelled) before -- the ocean. Oh, and did The Mama remember Indians in sailboats from that summer?? Not at all...

Memories are made of such strange stuff. Why do we keep one thing vivid, and forget the rest? Why does someone else at the very same spot and place in time remember totally different things? I am constantly amazed at what Daughters #1 and #2 consider important about their childhood; many times, they bring up items I had forgotten all about, or dismissed as trivial. (Thank God they don't seem to remember the times I blew up at them out of frustration or fatigue...times I am ashamed of now.)

I'm grateful for them, though. (The girlies and memories.) They keep you sane during restless periods, and reassure during times of stress. This Too Shall Pass, they whisper. And they're right.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Fence, Sweet Fence

A lacy chainlink fence?



Yep, with the help of some extra-large lace motifs, and a nearby exhibit on lace. (Thanks for mentioning this, Dirt Ju Jour!) See the ShelterPop link for more.
 

I thought the profile of a guy who turned a fishing trawler into a London home a nice one, too...

Living Like A Millionaire...The Right Way!

I am a huge fan of Thomas Stanley's The Millionaire Next Door. According to Stanley and his surveys, the true millionaires are not the ones buying Grey Goose Vodka and Saks Fifth Avenue...they're the ones who shop at Wal-Mart and Ross, and spend less than $200 for a good watch. (Actually, more like $50!)

The library hold finally came through, and now I'm reading Stanley's latest -- Stop Acting Rich -- and Start Living Like A Real Millionaire. It's just as good, though there are some unintentionally amusing parts -- like reading that "wanna-be" millionaires prefer Mercedes-Benz, Lexus...and Jeep brands! (We drive a Jeep Cherokee.)

On the other hand, these wannabes have, on the average, five cars -- and we have just one (which just hit 149,000 miles), plus temporary use of Daughter #1's Toyota. What Stanley (or the millionaires) don't seem to know, is that Cherokees wear like iron. We bought this model used. (#3 of the Cherokees we've owned over the past 27 years.) And the $1000 repairs it currently needs (sigh...a crankcase) are the first, other than basic maintenance, in the near-decade we've owned it.

That brings up another mention. The real millionaires? They prefer Ford and Toyota. Hear that, Ford? You did the right thing, hanging in there...Toyota, you'd better listen up and shape up!


Stanley's website is just as interesting. His surveys are rife with numbers and statistics -- a little tough for this English major to wade through, but worth it, once you get to the conclusions. (This is a man who likes to prove what he's suggesting.) The best part, though, are the personal stories, like this post and this from a scientist who's amassed a million-plus, yet still eats at Burger King once a week. (They drank a bottle of French champagne -- their first -- when they passed the million-dollar mark; their mortgage was celebrated with California sparkling wine.)

You'll find Stanley's newest book just as good as his previous ones...perhaps even more thought-provoking. He believes that people have cranked down their lifestyles and are beginning to save more, thanks to the financial crises of 2008 and 2009. He also argues, though, that we've gotten so used to giving ourselves whatever we want -- no matter what the cost in the long run -- that this is just temporary. When people stop being afraid, they'll start spending again. And this time, it will be worse -- they'll try to make up for the 'deprivation' of the past few years.

And after a few years of 'prosperity,' the financial climate will only get worse.


The scary part? I think...he just may be right.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Monday Meanderings

Husband had the day off today, which meant a long snooze-in, bigger breakfast (prepared by yours truly)...and the usual round of piano lessons and such. For yours truly. Husband, to his credit, washed the dishes and scrubbed the oven!

In between, all sorts of interesting stuff wandered in off the Internet:


The Russian luger who was killed had a premonition...he told his father he was scared of the track, and would either win or die. 

A recap of photos from the Winter Olympics. (I wish I could keep track of everybody, but these at least give you a quick overview.)

A very cool blog -- the Grocery Challenge Cart is a great place to go for frugal ideas,practical living, and best of all, some of the best easy-to-follow recipes I've seen in a long time.

Here's an excellent out-in-the-trenches article on healthy grocery shopping on a budget. 

A guy bought a loaf of bread -- and got a free protein bonus. Squeak!

And last but not least in the food department, a steakhouse menu to try at home.

Johnny Weir, a Winter Olympics skater, plans to try a quadruple jump. (Go, buddy, go! If Apolo Ohno can win a sixth medal, anything can happen!)

A whole set of very strange resignations.

And maybe the best skeleton battle ever.  (Did you know skeletons scream like little girls??) I'm kind of partial to the skeleton fight with Sinbad, too...that great skittery music.

And finally -- 12 Very Cool (But Weird Things) you can buy on the internet, including those huge zip-in clear plastic balls that let you prance around on water like "some insane hamster messiah."

We were just too beat to go out for Valentine's Day yesterday. We worked until 4:30 a.m. on various projects; got up a few hours later, and sang on Worship Team for two services -- then our small group hosted a cake-and-strawberries open house for Zeke and Mandy in between. (They're leaving soon for a college pastor job in Ohio. Godspeed, guys!) I could barely get lunch down before zzzing out...we slept for four hours.

So tonight, it's off to Outback -- and supper with the man I love. Who may not be the most lavish romantic I've ever met -- his present was a pot of roses I'd already bought for the open house. But snuggling with him on a late winter's afternoon, talking about everything from Bigfoot to Cancun, may be the best Valentine's Day present ever. Happy Valentine's Day, Husband. This girl loves ya.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Veggie Fruit Heaven -- in the Dead of Winter

There's a new Sprouts Market in town! Yesterday, friend Jo dragged me there, and I wandered around in a daze. Great prices, friendly people offering fresh-baked muffins and oj, crispy-fresh produce...and some of the best sales prices I've seen in years. I got a cartful for Daughter #1, and we went back last night for some more. If you've got a Sprouts in your town, you need to pay it a visit. Not only are the weekly sales good, but visit on a Wednesday, and both weeks' prices apply -- the near-past and the newly-present! 


Frugal Babe loves green smoothies. She raves at how tasty this blenderized mixture of greens tastes. In her honor, I picked up a Green Goodness smoothie from Bolthouse Farms. At first taste, this bubbly green mixture has an intriguing hint of pineapple and green apple. But the more I sipped, I kept thinking about haying season...driving the tractor, sun hot on the back of your neck, the bales landing with a satisfying thump in the back of the wagon as it chugs slowly on. A fresh-mown smell, cropped bits underfoot, and a warm golden haze over everything.

Why? Snow on the ground, and I'm thinking about hay?? It was the smoothie! Must have been the wheatgrass...

I could feel my dad, Mr. Big Tough Dutch Farmer, laughing his head off.  Sorry, Frugal dear -- think I'll be sticking to berry smoothies and frappucinos from now on.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Great Valentine's Day Prez for the Guys??

This video (a present from a daughter to her obsessed dad) might be perfect for that male character in your life.

It sure made me think of two treasured guys: Husband (who will roll his eyes at this), and my dad.

I (Heart) Valentine's Day

Yep, that's right. It's coming.

I have some boxes to ship today. (Hope they get there in time...this is the first day I've felt up to actually thinking about it.) In the meantime:


Frugal Upstate has 20 frugal-and-fun suggestions for celebrating.

I enjoy riffling through Like Merchant Ships' archives, too -- she is especially good for stuff done at the last minute. (Not that I would know what that felt like...)

Or -- design and make your own Valentine's Day e-cards...free.

Got some ideas to share?

A Half-Baked Approach

Apologies...I didn't meant to be so quiet.

I've just not been feeling absolutely up to par, though it's back to regular schedule. That means I start something, get it half-done, drop it and go sit down for a while, pick up something else...

Half-finished really means half-baked. Today, I plan to CONCENTRATE and make piles disappear. Even if it means slogging through one task at a time.

We have snow, but not to the level of you-all back East. These newscasters have a snowball fight on-camera to celebrate...looks like my cousins, growing up!

Ah well. Back to it.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Monday's A Commercial One

The cold light of Monday morning reigneth...and it's still snowing.

Actually, I feel very snug, typing and watching the flakes eddy past the window.

Thought about it more, and there were two types of Superbowl commercials that were worth watching --

The Denny's 'Chicken Warning' commercials: advertising for a free Grand Slam breakfast Tuesday! (Good from 6 a.m. - 2 p.m.)

And I STILL like the E-Trade kid commercials, though other people say they're sick of them. The girlfriend version's a prime one.

The Daily Beast thought these were the best 15 commercials of Superbowl.  (Naaahhhh...)

And Husband laughed like crazy at the Dodge Charger commercial...I didn't get it.  (We did see a very similar car in Steve McQueen's Bullitt a few nights before...but it was driven by the bad guys! McQueen drove a Mustang -- so did Husband when I first met him.)

Back to it...hope your work is starting out swimmingly.

Treasure Found!

There are lots of 'lost treasure' stories out there -- but the best ones are those that actually have been rediscovered.

Like Ernest Shackleton's abandoned cases of whisky. His 1909 expedition was forced to leave some of their supplies, including at least two cases of whisky, behind. Those cases were accidentally rediscovered, frozen deep into the ice underneath the expedition hut, when it was being refurbished in 2006. No one could get to them, however.

Now, thanks to Whyte and Mackay, the company who now owns Mackinlay's Rare Old Scotch, they've been salvaged -- by drilling into the ice around the wooden cases. Only it's actually 5 crates! (3 of whisky, 2 of brandy)

Yes, at least some of the crates are good 'ol Mackinlay's...but company execs are especially curious, since this type of spirit is not made anymore. (The original recipe apparently was lost some time ago.) Whiskies back then were "quite heavy and peaty, as that was the style," according to Whyte and Mackay's master blender. Apparently, that's not currently a favorite taste...but I wonder if things will change. People are intrigued with anything that's 'old' --and new, at the same time.

Not everything was salveageable. According to the drillers, the ice around the cases smelled of whisky. Most probably some of the bottles inside have broken or cracked, or the corks are defective. But the cases also made sloshing sounds, suggesting there is some left. (Apparently, they were under instructions to bring the cases Home Without Looking. Wouldn't you have cracked them open to find out??) We'll have to wait for more info. In the meantime, here's another article on the whole business.

When asked what the old stuff will taste like, Richard Paterson, Whyte and Mackay's master blender, just says:
    "Cold."

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Post-Superbowl

Spent a snug afternoon by the fire...and Husband. Who trudged off to church today, taking care of our responsibilities, so I could rest. What a wonderful guy.  After watching the Superbowl together, he said, "Well, the commercials weren't that great...but the game was terrific!" Then he realized what he said, and looked sideways at me!

He's right. The commercials were 'ok.' One of the best was the 'NCIS headslap.'  The CareerBuilder 'Casual Friday' spot is a winner, too. In general, though, they just seemed to be a tired reworking of past years and ideas. Emerald Nuts -- SuperFlyMan and people acting like Sea World dolphins? Stupid is not necessarily wonderful! GoDaddy (and sex) -- enough, already!!!

But the game, especially fourth quarter, was more tahn worth it. Wow, Nawlins, you wanted it...and you got it! Congratulations!!

For those of you little dears who didn't watch the Superbowl:

*Denny's is offering a free Grand Slam breakfast on Tuesday, Feb. 9 -- 6 a.m. - 2 p.m.
*Dockers has a new contest to win one of thousands of a free pair of pants
*Campbells is giving out a bunch of great coupons for Chunky soup.

Without the Big S, I wouldn't have known about a fascinating new series: "Undercover Boss." This new series puts CEOs of major companies at starting positions in their own corporations...starting with Larry O'Donnell of Waste Management. His face is priceless -- especially when he gets fired on Day #2! (The man just can't pick up papers fast enough.) Don't miss this show...now if only big bosses everywhere would try it, and take the lessons learned to heart. I wish mine had...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

How Secure Are You?

Some weeks ago, while teaching in California, I tried to use a credit card.

And couldn't.

This isn't unusual -- not because we don't pay our bills (we do) -- but because the VISA card company has an interesting habit of denying any charges out of state. When your job often takes you on the road, like mine, that makes for a problem at times. My favorite was buying some $250 of fabric at a shop in North Carolina, having the card repeatedly denied, and being told they didn't take Discover! I lucked out -- they DID take my check. (Although would you hesitate, after the customer's standing there with a red face, saying she's got the money??)

I figured this was a repeat of the North Carolina Incident, and called the credit card company. They noted it on my account, then said there shouldn't be a problem.

Until, with nearly $200 in fabric sitting on the counter, I got my card denied. Again. The only thing saving me from total humiliation was that the clerk said she'd heard me calling the credit card company when I first got in the shop. They didn't take a check -- they didn't take Discover -- but thank God, I'd done the lecture, had sold some things, and had cash. Whew.

Turns out all was NOT well -- what the VISA rep did NOT tell me was that someone at the Phoenix airport the night before not only had copied my number, but they were ordering all sorts of interesting things from Google personals and elsewhere! The final kicker: the charges included Christian-themed t-shirts from a mail order site. Ergh.

The good news: VISA didn't hold me responsible. The bad news: I was caught in California with only one credit card (that not everyone takes) and a little cash. I made it home ok, but learned several lessons:
     *Call the credit card company when you're taking an out-of-state trip. No matter what.
     *Keep some kind of backup payment ready -- an extra check in your wallet, a spare $50, something.
     *Are your account numbers where you can access them quickly? (And I don't mean on a paper scribbled in your wallet, either.)

At least VISA keeps track of their customers' spending patterns, and calls when something's unusual. (I just wish they would have called sooner.) A bit freaky to deal with, but it sure saved my bacon on this trip.

I was lucky. The thieves only got one credit-card number. What if they'd stolen my wallet? It happened to this guy -- see what he did. (Go to the Nov. 29 post. Other good advice is here and here, too. This posting is helpful and thorough.)  He suggests adding the following four phone numbers to your contact info...they would have helped in my situation, too:

Equifax   800-525-6285        
Experian 888-397-3742
TransUnion  800-680-7289
Social Security (Fraud Dept)  800-269-0271

The first three are credit reporting companies; the fourth comes in handy for thieves who try to change your contact info to theirs. Take a minute and write these down -- they could save your bacon, too!

I only made one charge at the Phoenix airport: a Burger King. One of the teenaged employees there must have swiped my credit card info. (The purchases suggested a kid, too.) Hopefully their snide little behind ended up IN JAIL.

* * * * * *
On that cheerful note, it seemed only proper to enjoy some cat yodeling, and a very funny "Mean Kitty" song. Plus one of the most luxurious ballads ever: "At Last," courtesy of Etta James. (Eat your heart out, Beyonce.) It can be a nasty, flu-filled world...thank God for these wonderful reminders that Good Stuff is still out there.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Free Valentine Scrapbooking Patterns!

Here's a huge batch of Valentine-themed paper-pieced scrapbooking patterns -- 17 total! (I thought the mailbox one especially cute...now can I translate it into fabric??)

They'd make wonderful motifs for cards, too.

Bits and Pieces --

--while I continue to recover. The 'fellas' are starting to pack up and go away, but I still don't feel that great. Planning to keep a very low profile this weekend, which won't be bad. I've got lots of quilting to get done, and a snowstorm is supposed to move in Sunday, anyways.


*Marilyn Monroe new photos out there:  Nine months before her death, Marilyn visited Carl Sandburg, and another friend took some photos. They show a friendly girl with glasses and subtle dress who is anything but a sexpot. (Anybody else wonder why this supposed birdbrain is visiting people like Carl Sandburg?? Because she wasn't, that's why!) Take a look, and you'll see what I mean.


*A new approach to storage -- and clearing away. A good practical one too, I thought.


*Ten Oscar shockers: no nomination for Clint Eastwood (poor baby!), a bunch of kids movies are noted, and the movies that got the most nomations -- I saw hardly any of them. My own favorites apparently are not Oscar-worthy...how about you? Take a look here.

Off to go lay down for a while. Back soon.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Mr. Fever's Still in Town --

...and apparently planning to hang out with his Auntie Headache for a while. I'm just grateful Masser Nausea is sulking in a corner for now. (Not that I mind being best buds with white ceramic appliances that were NOT meant to be stared into for long periods of time. Ahem.)

My mom says this stuff is marching through Michigan; all I know is that it's not uncommon in Colorado, either. And, of course, it is NOT the flu type that responds to a shot! Poor Daughter #1 has been struggling through her schedule; I apparently shared my 'gift' with her, too.

On the plus side, I finally got a batch of cranberry-red Glogg started, hopefully ready in time for Husband's birthday Feb. 20. And some paperwork is starting to get done...more tonight. Some dishes got washed in between dizzy spells, some clothes folded. The dentist appt. got postponed, and someone else will sing in my place on Worship Team tonight. Thank God.


Now to find a warm blanket and some hot tea...back soon.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Pantry Challenge...and Flu

I guess it was inevitable.

Got back at 1:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, after a lecture and some fun spent with the Northern Colorado Quilters (LNCQ) in Fort Collins, a few hours north. We had a great time looking at pioneer era pieces, and talking about the kinds of quilts and coverlets taken west. (If they were going to last -- sturdy ones!)

On the way home, I stopped at Daughter #1's new apartment, only to find out she needed 'just a few things' moved out of her old place. Two trips later, we both staggered out (she'd had a long day, too), and I drove home, feeling a tad strange.

Found out why yesterday morning. Some kind soul, probably either in Fort Collins or at church on Sunday, had given me a present: the flu. I spent most of yesterday either sacked out on the couch or huddled up to my new best friend, the toilet. (Not very conversational -- but a useful ally.)

Today, the fever's down, although I haven't strayed too far from home. Mr. Nausea keeps wanting to visit; Doritos and hot tea are two of the few things that keep him away!


A final assessment of the Pantry Challenge:

I could have done better -- but I could have done worse.


Instead of $50, I spent closer to $95 for the month of January. Why? Because some incredible sales came by that I couldn't afford to ignore. Potatoes -- 99 cents for 10 pounds. Whole roasting chicken -- 79 cents a pound. Pork loin -- 99 cents a pound. All practically unheard of here in central Colorado.

So yes, I gave in and stocked up. Forty pounds of potatoes are ensconced in a cooler on the back porch, and should keep there nicely until late spring. (If the temp goes down to single digits, I'll bring them in for the night.) I even got some tv dinners for Husband, who hates to cook for himself while I'm on a gig. (Which I was -- in California, and northern Colorado.) Also bought groceries for Daughter #1's recent move. (She now lives smack dab south of the Capital -- a large golden dome glows on her street throughout the night.)

On the plus side, I went way over on Jan. 31 -- the last day of the experiment. Nearly all purchases were on sale, including stock-up items. There's a lot more daylight showing in both freezers, and the pantry shelves are not so jammed. There are families in our church who could use some extra supplies -- I think I may thin the ranks even more, for a good cause. (Could you help out people in your community, too? Surely you wouldn't miss a few cans of something that much.)

Here's another person's final tally for the Pantry Challenge...and the lessons they learned.


The final score for the Bricks: approx. $25 a week, for two people, plus extras? Not too bad. I'm hoping to keep purchases down to a dull roar in February too -- it helped.