Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hanky Panky Winner!

Petchk79, you've just won yourself a copy of Hanky Panky! I've sent you an e-mail; please let me know where to snail mail it.

And thank you, all that entered. 

Engineers Doing Good

Nephew Adam is part of an engineering team for Grand Valley State College...who's just designed a new tray that can be used on walkers. Easy, basic -- and very necessary!

Read more about it hereHere, as well. (Adam's the smiling guy to the right.)

I have a young voice student who has MS, walks with a walker, and struggles a lot with carrying stuff. Perfect for him. (Yes, I'm asking Adam if I can get one.)

Good on ya, team!

Monday, August 29, 2011


Like you, I've been watching the doings about Hurricane Irene. Husband grew up in North Carolina near the coast, has vivid memories of his dad putting up plywood to protect their windows, and notes any weather activity in this area with interest.
    I have a good friend in the Charlotte area, friends in the guild there, as well as friends in New York City...and well, I'm just curious.

It was a huge relief to know that while they're dealing with flooding, trees down and such, the End of the World, Roland-Emmerich-style, has NOT come.

I was proud to read that the soldiers guarding the tomb of the Unknown Soldier did not falter, in spite of the winds and rain.

Now time to pick up the soggy items, nail back the shingles, and start cleaning up. ..


Was that a crazy-quilted top Nicki Minaj wore to the MTV Music Awards?? Now if she'd only get rid of the stupid facemask...

I'm home again. It was nice to see old friends at the Cheyenne Heritage Quilters annual gig, and admire their new show location -- much more light, more room to hang large quilts without it looking like they were jammed up against the ceiling. And I saw some amazing stuff this weekend, including two of Anne Olsen's pieces. (Anne takes old tops, reworks them, then requilts them. Beautifully.) A red and green applique of Anne's sticks in my mind, but so do a series of Japanese-inspired pieces; a state birds & flowers quilt that alternated the blocks with Log Cabins (attagirl, Ione!), and some lovely seaside-colored scrappy pieces: one in Storm at Sea, the other a pinwheel with a scrappy border. (Go, Barb and Sarah!) Finally, I fell in love with Sue's Wyoming-themed quilt, with sampler blocks superimposed on four realistic animal prints -- one for each quarter of the quilt. Lovely.

I only have a few days here, with laundry, picking beans, packing and clearing away paperwork, before leaving again, this time for the Hands All Around guild in Bloomington, IL. I'll be teaching Pioneer Quilting (with a side emphasis on how to hand quilt) and more -- come see me!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sweating and Packing

The house (and offices downstairs) looks like a bomb blew up in it -- piles everywhere. I've been trying to get ready for four gigs in a row...totally insane. But (she says, giggling hysterically) at least it will be fun!
   First in the batch is the Cheyenne Heritage Quilters annual show..."Recycling Tradition" this year. I love scrap quilts, and you just know they're going to be front and center, with this theme. I'll be there -- and the show's open -- from Thursday-Saturday this week. I still have a few appraisal spots open, if you're interested...but not many. I'll also be doing at least one, maybe two free talks on "Spotting a Prizewinning Quilt." Come on over!

Stuff on the Way to Other Stuff:

*Hot, Hot Hot. It has been so muggy here, with no breeze, that even the computer is balking. The keys stick badly enough that I have trouble typing in passwords, and any text or numbers written have to be triple-checked for typos. (This English major feels like a moron if she misspells anything. Yes, I had to retype some of this post, as well.)  At least the tomatoes are getting their jollies out of it.

*Update on the Basement Caper: We just got a letter from the insurance company, saying once again that they were washing their hands of us and our trashed-out basement. Little does the adjuster know that our lawyer's letter should have crossed with this one in the mail...

*Reusable Grocery Bags -- the creepy truth. The Britain Daily Mail, one of Great Britain's newspapers, did a study, and found that half of the bags tested positive for e coli. (Wash your bags regularly, people!) Another study suggests that some of the bags coming from China show unsafe levels of lead. Perhaps disposable bags are the better choice, especially when you can use them so many different ways. 

*Don't forget about my Hanky Panky giveaway! Leave a comment here, subscribe, or post it on your blog, and link it -- and you may have won your own copy of Hanky Panky. Ends Sunday.

*Seven Things Marie Antoinette never was -- or did. (For one thing, she wasn't French!)

*NASCAR points leader Kyle Busch loses his license for speeding. Going 128 mph in a 45 mph zone. In a bright yellow Lexus. What a doofus. ("I think you'll be different in the future," said the sentencing judge. "I sure will, Your Honor," replied Busch.)

*Writers' Famous Last Words: everybody from Mark Twain to Jane Austen.

*The fighting continues in Libya.  "While opposition fighters claimed they had most of Tripoli under control, a defiant Gadhafi in hiding vowed in a recorded statement to fight on 'until victory or martyrdom.'" (Note words "in hiding.")

And life goes on.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Great Craft Idea

A tea wreath??

This is such a cutie, and it's easy to make, thanks to Kojodesigns' pictorial. Go here to see it all.

Hmmm. What about hot chocolate and marshmallows? Drink mixes?  Postcards? Handkerchiefs?

* * * * * * * * * * *
Don't forget -- there's still plenty of time to enter the Hanky Panky giveaway. Contest ends midnight, Aug. 28. Let me hear from you!

Life Without Cable: Two Months and Counting

I never would have thought it could happen.

You see, we're in a rather unique position -- our part of Colorado (Denver area) is ringed with mountains and dotted with buttes -- which effectively block signals of all but two or three television stations. (It can really play havoc on cell phones, too, although those companies have compensated with higher or more towers.)
   So if you want to watch television -- you pretty much have to have cable or a satellite dish.

Or so I thought. 

Two months ago, we cancelled our cable. Since our Internet access was coming through Comcast, as well, we hooked up via phone line (but wirelessly) with Qwest/Century Link.  (Our neighborhood had very low speed access, until I complained to the Century Link corporate board...then magically higher speed links were approved and installed in our area! Another good lesson on the value of politely complaining.)

Our payment went down considerably.  But what about those programs we really liked?

We watch them on the 'Net. The History Channel shows current episodes of "Ice Road Truckers" and "Top Shot,." two of our favorites. We just watch them a night or so later than we used to.

The series can be rented, or borrowed. We both love "The Unit," a military drama that ran for four  seasons, until 2007. (It still seems a shame it was cancelled.) I borrowed all four box sets from the library -- but they're also available on Amazon for sale,. or via Netflix. We also finished the first season of "Warehouse 13," thanks to a free interlibrary loan. No having to sit through commercials this way,. either. Refreshing.
    I'm hoping that other networks take the History Channel's cue and post episodes directly on their website -- we'll see. (Are you listening, producers of "The Mentalist?")

Hulu's great. So's Netflix. We use Hulu to access all sorts of programs, from documentaries to rv series to movies. Both daughters, one up in the mountains and the other near the Capitol building, have opted out of cable in favor of Netflix. We used to have a subscription,. and may go back to it in the winter.

What I didn't realize was how much we were watching tv,. simply because we were too tired to do anything else. It was a lot easier to plop down on the couch "for a few minutes," but spend hours there, instead. Now we do more things. (Although I'd like to cut down on our mutual time spent online.)

There's a huge test coming up: college football. Can we find games online? (Our two favorites, the CU Buffs and Michigan's Wolverines,. haven't been doing that well -- which means they're not televised that often.) Do we just plan to spend a few evenings at the local sports bar, when important games are coming up? Or do we just listen to them on the radio?
    Time will tell. One thing's for certain,. though: this was a decision we should have made long ago.

(Here's someone else who just got rid of his cable -- although he's able to pick up reception using rabbit ears on the set,. something that's not really possible for us. At the very least, call your cable operator and negotiate a lower price!)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Put A LIttle You-Know-What In Your Life -- Free!

That's right -- a handful of Hanky Panky is yours! (Well,. in book form, that is.) All you have to do is leave a comment on this post, today's 'Ten Best' post, or any others this week. On Sunday, August 28, I'll randomly draw a name, and that lucky winner will get his or her own autographed copy of my bestselling Hanky Panky Crazy Quilts,. along with a handkerchief to start. It's quick, easy, and you'll come up with a beautiful heirloom quilt in less than a dozen hours...binding included!

Double your chances by subscribing to this blog -- then leave a separate comment, letting me know. (Triple your chance by mentioning the giveaway on your blog, then posting that link in a separate comment.) Remember: you've got until midnight on August 28. If I get more than a hundred comments, I'll give away two books!

My Top Ten --Best Purchases, That Is

Len Penzo is exploring this idea in his current post.

Hmmm... what would I say?

1. The first house we ever bought
    $72,000 seemed like an insane amount of money at the time (1988), but we sold it for enough a decade later to have a hefty downpayment on our current house. House #2 has not been quite as much a bargain -- it was a mess,. and had to be completely rewired when we first moved in. Plus, it had a lot of cosmetic issues that we have been slowly dealing with over the years -- including ugly bright blue siding. (We eventually replaced it with mossy green James Hardie siding. Now that was a good decision for the money!)

2. Our Jeep Cherokees
    We've had three now --all purchased used-- and every single one was a workhorse. We've racked up more than a hundred thousand miles on each -- in the case of the first one, more than 250,000 miles -- and they've rarely let us down. I love these sturdy, reliable vehicles. (Now, if they'd get better gas mileage...)

3.  Our College Educations
    Husband used his Masters in mechanical engineering for decades. I use my Masters in English lit every day. Both degrees opened doors we never would have dreamed of.

4.  Our Laptop Computers
    We have two -- one for Husband at home,. one for me to take with on gigs. (It's also perfect for working up appraisals on the road...making the small printer I take with another of my best buys.) I could never have written books or articles, or had the opportunities or talked to the people I have without my access to the Internet. Thank God for it. (I should also,however, point out that on occasion,. when the router goes kaput, or the website goes down,. I'm tempted to make this my most maddening purchase, as well!)

5. Three quilts in the Brickworks collection
   These include a c.1900 Redwork Garden Maze piece, an 1839 dated (yes, signed and dated) chintz Mosaic top, and a c.1890 Crazy with lots of ribbons. These, along with others, have been an integral part of my lectures and classes.

6. The washer -- plus the dishwasher
   What would I do without these wonderful appliances? (Actually, I did without the dishwasher for more than a year, and missed it far more than I would have thought.)  The Kenmore washer came used -- the Kitchen Aid dishwasher  new. Both are wonderful.We have a dryer, as well, but I rarely use it. (Husband and daughters, on the other hand...)

7. The Featherweight sewing machine
   I paid for it with my services for an entire quilting conference -- and it was worth it. This little 1950s machine is small enough to be loaded into an overhead compartment, and yet sews and sews and SEWS. Every once in a while, Husband pulls out a wad of thread and cleans it,. and I oil it. Would that I could be this reliable when I'm as old.

8. Our trips overseas
   Both Husband and I traveled through Europe before we met. (Would love to do it again.) The Brazil trip changed our lives -- so did earlier stays in the Baja Mexico area (especially La Paz),. and December's jaunt in Panama . Daughter #1 is headed to New Zealand in November. Or...?

9. Our popup trailer - and camping gear over the years
   I just wish we could use these more right now...

and finally...

10. Our piano
   It's provided great pleasure and comfort for both of us,. as well as income on occasion. But money isn't why we play it -- the piano has become a way for both of us to communicate how we are, what we're feeling -- and share that with others. Our early 1900s upright only cost $150 -- but it's been worth a million to us.

Whew, I did it. Now what are your best purchases? Do tell!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Breaking News on Libya

Quick, if you're reading this in early morning -- check the news. As of 12:40 a.m. (don't ask), Tripoli is falling to the rebels. Two of Gaddafi's sons have been captured, the palace guard have laid down their arms, and President Obama is calling for Gaddafi to capitulate, to avoid further bloodshed. Here's the news so far --but I'm sure there's better coverage when you read this.
    Gaddafi, true to form, is calling on Libyans everywhere to swarm into the capitol and defend it with their blood. So far, nobody seems to be obeying much. Libyans have actually been kissing the ground in gratitude...


Oh my. For the first time in months, ever since the basement flooding down in the Brickworks office area...our laptops are talking again to the office computer!
    This is wonderful. It means I can once again access photos, class/teaching info, and check our inventory and customer information. No more attempting to recreate it out of my head. Hooray!

Just a few days before I leave to appraise at the Cheyenne Heritage Quilt Show in Wyoming. It runs from Thursday - Saturday this week; find out more here.  It's a wonderful mix of excellent quilts (some of the best quilters in the West contribute), a vendor's mall, silent auction and raffle quilt, and of course, yours truly appraising. Good stuff.

I may have an unusual -- and very wonderful -- opportunity to teach out of the country. Am waiting for specifics, but you'll be the first to know if it pans out.

Things are already looking up. Have a great week!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

They're Out There!

Keep an eye out at garage, antique and book sales for rare publications like these -- you never know what you'll find!

Edgar Allen Poe's Tamerlane and Other Poems sold for $696,000 in 2009. (And this was a beat-up, tattered-looking copy. Of course, very few were ever printed -- as few as 20, or as many as 200.) Find out more about Tamerlane here. (One of the copies extant was purchased in 1988 at an antique shop in southern New Hampshire -- price $15!)

A Western Trip by Carl Schmidt was purchased at a garage sale for a buck -- but it's worth $6,000.

Charles Darwin's 1859 printing of Origin of Species: found in a bookcase a British family kept in their bathroom! (They paid a few shillings for it about 40 years ago -- needless to say, it's now worth insanely more...) Another copy, auctioned in 2010 for $52,500, was found on the bookshelf of a woman in Tempe, AZ. She had many books; this one was acquired by her grandfather sometime in the 1930s.

A big batch of Thomas Jefferson's personal library books were discovered in the rare books collection of Washington University in St. Louis. (When his books were sold at auction after his bankruptcy, his granddaughter bid on many of them -- then donated them to the university. Except -- the university didn't know, until a tip from a Jefferson scholar. They could easily have deaccessioned them...)

A handwritten Robert Frost poem, found inside the cover of a book owned by one of his friends, who donated collection to the University of Virginia. It was discovered by a grad student 88 years later.

Action Comics #1, the debut of Superman, originally sold for 10 cents. (It's now worth millions.) This copy was found in a storage locker in California -- the same copy that was stolen from Nicolas Cage a decade ago.

I haven't been this lucky. But I have found several books at our local thrift shop and public library sale room that have resold for considerably more on Amazon -- including a video I bought for a buck, and resold for $10.95! So keep looking...I will, too. Who knows -- one of us may run into another copy of the Declaration of Independence. Or a set of glass negatives of Ansel Adams photos -- $45 paid at a garage sale, worth about $200 million.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

B & P For A Summer Day

I'm starting to feel a little more energetic...can you tell? There are still allergies, A Big Mess and struggles to deal with, but it's like wading out of the deep end: you can finally get your feet back underneath you. Makes it easier to get things done.

In the meantime, here are a variety of Bits And Pieces for you to consider: think of them as mental nibbles to spice up a quiet period.

*Simple Dollar's Reader's Mailbag. I love Trent's Monday and Thursday mailbags -- I may not always agree with him (or his commenters), but they get thinking. Try the question on "Should Mom declare bankruptcy?"
   A side note: Trent mentions meeting up with a friend he knew fifteen years ago -- who only wanted to talk about 'back then.' (They didn't even ask if Trent was married or had kids -- themes that are very important to his blog.) This got me thinking about a party I went to...and met an old friend I had known very well growing up, but hadn't seen for years. His former girlfriend was also at the party...and launched into a lengthy, blow-by-blow description of how her kids were born. (They aren't his, by the way. And her girls are 25 years old.) 
     I tried to contribute a few light tidbits of my own, just to stay in the fray, but could feel my face getting red. I should have just shut up. (Old Friend, on the other hand, had a little smile on his face the whole time.)

*Another writer's opinion of Textbroker. I gave you mine yesterday.

*A reverent look at making and preparing food. Not only for us, but how we join hands with other cultures and nations when we do it wisely. Doris Longacre's More-With-Less cookbook is referenced here: one of the best when you're cooking on a budget. In two decades of cooking out of it, I've rarely had anything but delicious and easy-to-make results.

*77 Inspiring Quotes. I particularly liked this one, from Winston Churchill:
     "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."

    Michael Jordan once said his failures had made him successful. A good thing to remember when you feel down and blue.

*"Making Money Online," from the same guy who compiled the quotes. I'm not sure about his methods (or even purported success), but it gives you room to think, at least. (Crystal at MoneySavingMom offers five additional possibilities here.)

*15 Foods That Taste Good and are Good For You: At About $2 Each. Poke around this site and your frugal self will find some other goodies, like 100-calorie snacks -- 25 of them.

The coffee cup is nearly empty. (Good Panamanian stuff.) Basement work awaits...and the dishwasher...and the ironing. I'd better get to it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Win a $100 REI gift card!

Could you use a $100 REI gift card, to help out with your camping/hunting/hiking plans for this year?

One Frugal Girl, a fun read in the first place, is offering a drawing for the card -- deadline is Sept. 20. But don't wait -- go ahead and sign in right now. Go here to do it...you'll also enjoy the pictorial record of her recent visit to REI, family in tow.

Another Quilting Friend Gone

Barbara Barr died August 10. She was a prolific and interesting quilter; many first heard of her through her quilt Cottonwood Pass, and the book based on it -- Cottonwood Pass: A Celebration of Flowers in Fabric. However,  she received many awards for other pieces. She was a teacher, speaker, member of the Quilters Hall of Fame...and all-around classy lady.

     I wish I had known her better. We met at a few gatherings this past year, each time with a promise to have lunch/come on over in the future. Once again, I let other commitments get in the way. I wish now that I hadn't.
     You can learn more about Barbara here, or via her obituary:

Obituary for Barbara Ann Barr
1933 - 2011

Services Pending
Newcomer Funeral Home - West Metro Chapel
901 South Sheridan Blvd
Lakewood, CO  80226       303-274-6065
Barbara Ann Barr, 77, of Jefferson County died August 10th. She is survived by her husband Ben, her daughter Brenda Barr, granddaughter Kate Lauer, and great grandson Connor Martinez. She was preceded in death by her daughter Bonnie Terry. As a nationally recognized, extremely talented professional fabric artist, author, and Hall Of Fame quilter, she received many national awards and touched the lives of countless grateful artists. She was a avid mountain climber, having successfully climbed mountains all over the world. Not enough can be said about this great lady. Donations to the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum in Golden in lieu of flowers.

Update: Barb's family will be hosting a Celebration of Life Open House in her memory:

September 9th, 2012 (Friday evening)
5:00 until 8:30 pm
3563 South Monaco
Denver, CO  80237

If you are planning on attending please RSVP to the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum gallery by August 31, 2011 at 303-277-0377.

Writing For Hire: A Review of Textbroker

It's not easy, being a writer.

No, the gripefest doesn't begin here. (Cousin Joy would say, "Would you like some cheese with that whine?") I've made my living by the printed word for a long time, including hundreds of articles and six-plus books. Writing has given me a chance to inform about the subjects, people and things I believe are important, but it's also paid for doctor visits, school supplies and put many a sack of groceries on the table, as well.

The hardest part isn't in writing -- at least it shouldn't be, if you honestly have the desire to write. There are plenty of ways to do this, including blogs, letters to the editor, letters to your family and friends, and companies who would be happy to print whatever you say -- as long as it's free.

The hard part is getting paid for it. 

That's one of the nicest things about Textbroker. This is a write-for-hire company that brokers for companies needing everything from titles to short articles and reviews of everything from budgeting to the best airport lounges. Want to write about crocheted scarves? (I did, just recently.) Textbroker will set it up, and give you up to three days to do it. They'll include the number of words desired, plus instructions from the client. Usually those instructions use 'key words:' words or phrases that must be used a minimum number of times for the article to be a success. (The downside of this -- your article will be double-checked by a computer, and there's no arguing with it. If you use "water park" three times, instead of two the company requests, the computer won't leave you alone until you delete one. Do I honestly think the company would mind having its product mentioned more, rather than less? Of course not.)

The articles are short: generally 250-500 words. You choose the assignment from a wide variety of subjects. The more articles you write, the faster your rating is upgraded -- then choose from an even wider range of possibilities for better pay. Companies can even request your services specially.

The downside is, as you might have guessed, the price. Until you're upgraded, about the maximum you can earn for a 500-word article is $5.00...usually it's less than that. Most writers, yours truly included, seem to start at the 2 or 3 level. (The max is 5.) I found it more than a tad ironic to be assigned a '3,' considering I've been writing articles, books and marketing copy for more than three decades now. (Maybe they thought I got drunk every morning before I turned on the computer.) And I've been waiting for weeks to have at least eight articles 'graded,' which will hopefully be the catalyst to bump that grading number up.

    Also, the earlier you check in, the wider range of subjects you have to choose from. (Wait until nighttime, and you'll have options -- but only if you know how to write in 'Brit-speak,' something we Americans can struggle with.)

    Finally, even though you have up to three days to finish the assignment, you must complete one article before the computers that be will let you register for a second or third one. This often means that others have snapped up much of the interesting stuff before you can submit your current assignment.

That being said, Textbroker provides some helpful positives:

*You get paid for what you write. With practice, you'll be able to write enough articles to make at least minimum wage,. (Stop laughing. Wouldn't it be nice to earn minimum wage without leaving the comfort of your pajamas and coffee cup? Millions of Wal-Mart workers would agree.) This is to start -- with time and practice, you should be able to clear more.

*They pay you 100% of the price they agree on. Once your IRS form is in, they let you deal with things like taxes and withholdings. You get the money, generally via Paypal. (Ok, Paypal takes its small -- but definite -- share.)

*This is a wonderful way to practice and expand your craft. Stephen King, one of the best and most prolific authors out there, advocates writing something every day. (He also recommends reading every day. You may not like his style, but his success is hard to argue with. And his how-to book, On Writing, is one, if not the very best on the subject. I highly recommend it.)
    Taking on article assignments from Textbroker not only lets you "warm up" before proceeding to more important stuff -- it gives you a chance to see what subjects are near and dear to companies' hearts nowadays. True, I'm probably not going to write a novel about flight schools in Wichita, KS -- but what if I make the villain in my current short story a newly-registered pilot? (Hmmm....)

Is Textbroker the be-all and end-all in writing for a paycheck? Nahhh. I get much more in royalties and fees for the articles and books I write. But I also put in a lot more effort and research into those things. Generally, I can zip off a Textbroker article in a short time, thanks to the wonder of accessing any info needed via the Internet. God bless it -- a decade or two ago, I would have laughed like crazy to think of speaking to someone in Chile within a few hours of my initial request. Nowadays, it's not only easy, but standard. ( I know, because I just did it in the last week!)

As a short-term way to practice, Textbroker is a great place to start. You'll have to endure some odd questions and revisions at times; computers are not always sensible. (I'm not impressed with company staff's silly comments, either.)  But that is a small irritant, compared to the benefits. That article for Country Living magazine will pay ten,  twenty or thirty times as much -- but the Textbroker assignments fill in a gap now and then. And that's nothing to whine about.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Get Your Magazine Here...Free!

A year of Popular Science magazine...free??

Yup, when you sign up here. And you don't have to give a credit card, either.
Husband was thrilled. Daughter #2's boyfriend Keith likes it too, so I signed him up, as well.

They're also offering Outdoor Life (digitally), Ski and Bridal Guide.

I don't understand how they can afford to do this -- but I've had free magazines before, from Better Homes & Gardens to Martha Stewart's Living. So I know it can happen...but don't delay. This special might not continue for long.

A Game That Didn't End The Way It Was Supposed To

So there we are, sitting in the sludgy Colorado air, watching a baseball game that's gone on forever. Every time a batter makes progress, the Florida Marlins manager trudges out to the pitcher's mound, catcher in tow, then they have a long talk while everyone else stamps their feet and looks at the clock. ("Can you believe those idiots?" the Mound People say.  "Everyone has to wait while we  pretend to discuss Important Stuff out here. Let's keep it up, and they'll get so bored that they'll lose concentration and fan out!")
    By the twelfth or fifteenth time this happened, fans started yelling. Then booing. And it was happening yet again.
    Picture the scene: last inning. Jason Giambi is cooling his heels while the Marlins hold their little chatfest on the mound. The rest of the Colorado Rockies players are standing around, talking to each other, or scratching themselves.

     Two outs.

Two balls, two strikes.

Coors Field was emptying fast. Half the fans had already given up and gone home, convinced the Rocks were going to lose. The other half figured it was close to the end anyways, so were dancing to "Twist and Shout," calling out jokes, packing up, or slugging down beer.
    Finally the Marlins manager goes back. (Muffled insults and cheers.) The pitcher revs up. Then all of a sudden -- BOOM, and Jason's ball goes whizzing past our side of the stadium. It arches up, up and over --
Home Run!

    People whip their arms in the air, start screaming and hugging each other. The fountains leap up. And Jason casually jogs around the bases before diving into the players who have raced out of the dugout to meet him.
    The Rocks win: 7-4! What a heart-stopping, chest-pounding ending to a game!
(And we even got cheap tacos out of it.)

So they lost tonight, to the same team. (The Marlins probably bored the fur off them. Jason came close to doing it again - smacking a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth...but it was one run too few.) They're still our Colorado Rocks. Ain't love grand!


Monday, August 15, 2011

Oh Lordy, What a Month...

At least it's getting cooler outside! We're only in the high 80s now, and it often dips to the 70s at night. (Sorry, Texans.) The garden is loving all this warmth -- I had to go out this weekend and argue with the weeds, who were intent on setting up their own military junta. So far, though, I'm winning. And the slowly revving up bean harvests (plus the group of cute little white pattypan squash) show their gratitude.

There is an interesting little snap in the air, though -- could fall be starting to make its way here? Well, no matter. There are still plenty of people (us included) who could benefit from this list of easy ways to keep cool, courtesy of Get Rich Slowly.

We're still dealing with a stripped, dungeon-like basement, thanks to the water leak over Memorial Day weekend. And to top that off, we've had a long, personal situation which has caused much heartache. (It's still not resolved, though I think the emotional peak has been reached.) It's made it tough to get much of anything completely finished, though I've made stabs at several things.

Ah well. Husband just called: he's got tickets to the latest Rockies game. We'll sit in the stands, eat popcorn, and hopefully watch them win and get us cheap tacos. (4 for $2 if the Rocks score more than 7 runs -- from 4-6 p.m. at Taco Bell.)

Life goes on.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Clean on Friday...and Green Chili

That's how the 'days of the week' towels go, isn't it?

I am slowly making a dent in the mountain of paperwork, clean-but-not-put-away clothes, projects, etc. that have accumulated around this place. It is such a pleasure to see a space, shining clean and polished. Must keep going!
   The "twelve items" rule is helping. In short, here it is:
   Pick up and put away (or throw away) at least a dozen items a day. No matter what.

It doesn't look like much at first -- but then the countertops start to empty. And that inspires you to do more. I'm also thinking of clearing out the refrigerator by stuffing a batch of meals in the freezer, while it's still reasonably cool out. (Our temps dropped to the 70s and low 80s in the past few days...oh my.) Chicken broth is cooking now, but soon it will become green chili, thanks to Hatch chilis (the best, bar none - from Hatch, New Mexico) and pork ($1.20 a pound!) on sale.
    Green chili takes a few minutes of chopping, then time for the ingredients to meld. And once it's done, it's the ultimate Western convenience food: it can be spooned over any kind of potatoes, rice, tortillas. With a little cheese, you've got supper!
    Green chili enchiladas tonight during our customary Friday night movie...here are the recipes.

   a kettle of homemade chicken broth*
          (or two large cans chicken broth -- or 4 chicken bouillon cubes)
   4-6 fresh green chilies (or two small cans chopped green chilies)
   1 large finely chopped onion
   2 tablespoons chopped garlic
   1 small or medium can chopped tomatoes (or 3 fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped)
   1 pound cubed fresh pork (2 pounds, if you like it really meaty)
   1 tablespoon cumin

Clean out and roughly chop the chilies, scraping out the seeds first. (Unless you like it really hot!) Brown the pork, if you like, then rinse that pan into the broth. Add everything else, let simmer at least 4-6 hours. (I use a slow cooker, and let it go all day. The odors at suppertime are intoxicating.) Serve with tortillas and cheese.  Makes enough for at least 3-6 meals for 2-4 people, depending on how you use it.


3-4 corn tortillas per person
1 pound mozzarella, Monterey Jack or other mild cheese
2 cups chopped chicken
1 cup chopped onion
1-2 cups refried beans (optional) -- or a can's worth
green chili from recipe above (about 3 cups)
handful chopped fresh cilantro

Take a minute to grate a cup of cheese, set aside for later. Roughly chop the rest.
Microwave the tortillas for a minute, so they're soft and flexible. Lay three out in a 9x 13 pan, top with a tablespoon or two  of chopped cheese, chicken and onion (plus a spoonful of beans, if you're so inclined). Roll up quickly, then lay three more tortillas flat. Continue until done.
     Ladle the green chili over the enchiladas, then sprinkle on the cilantro. Finish with a handful of grated cheese.
     Bake at 350 degrees for 30 min., until bubbling. Yum.
(P.S. This freezes beautifully. Bake frozen casserole at approx. 1 hour at 350 degrees.)

*Homemade chicken broth -- Got chicken bones leftover from something else, and a slow cooker? You can have broth. Dump the bones in, along with skins and bits from any vegetable 'dried-ups' or leftovers. (I used the carcass from a roasted chicken, picking the meat off first. Or use a few pieces of uncooked chicken, picking the meat off before you discard the bones.) Add any leftover gravy or mild sauce. (A good way to clean out your refrigerator of those dribs and drabs.) Fill the slow cooker with water and set to low -- that's it. Let cook overnight; in the morning, drain off the broth and discard the solids. Store in refrigerator up to one week.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

He's Getting Married in the Evening...

Our friend Dean Madrid is marrying his true love tonight...hooray!

Dean (known as "Dino the Great Bambino" in the Brick house) grew up with our girlies -- they galloped around together, played exercise class and Power Rangers, and took turns falling off the Madrids'  trampoline. It seems strange to realize that the kid we saw digging in the sandbox is now an engineer (just graduated from Mines) who is getting ready to start his own family.

You can meet Dean and his new wife Kaylee here. Congratulations, you two. May you have many happy years together!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Ya Don't See Videos Like This Everyday...

A Florida couple is served a notice of foreclosure by Bank of America -- only BOA doesn't own the house. It's paid in full. The couple sue BOA back -- and foreclose on them, instead.

A snake crawls out of a Memphis family's car engine -- at 65 mph! (And it's a big one, too.)

A strange face appears in a bank of stormclouds.

The world's strongest redneck has a new timesaving device: a lawnmower on a stick. (Courtesy of Jess and Shannon -- you silly girls.)

And a very cool look at flash mobs. (My favorite is still the Hallelujah Chorus.)


Catching Up...and Allergies

After three weeks of off-and-on away, it's lovely to sleep in your own bed, for a change. It's not always restful -- we've had a lot of hot nights. (And the burglar alarm down the hill at the local Michael's goes off at the slightest hint of road construction.) The other issue is allergies: they've hit with a vengeance since I got home. Something blooms this time of year that sets off a fountain of nasalness. Unfortunately, the only thing that beats it right now is Benadryl -- and that makes you sleepy as all getout.


The mail got sorted this morning, and dishes washed. Now it's on to filling a new bookshelf, so I can get rid of the piles of books in the hallway. I think I will also go back to an old habit that helped a lot: put away at least a dozen things. Every single day. (Maybe just do it for 10 minutes every day, or schedule it in.) Either way, my goal is to get the upstairs completely clean and tidied up by the end of the month....just before I head to Cheyenne to appraise!

We picked our first tomatoes last night, just in time for Oldest Daughter's 25th birthday supper. (Happy Birthday, Sweetheart! Love you!) They were firm and just a bit acid -- a nice addition to grilled shrimp, crab legs, asparagus -- and an artichoke with lemon/butter sauce.
    The beans need weeding. Again. So does the front flower bed. Guess I'd better add them to the 'do it for a little bit each day' list. As long as I can lean over without a sneezing fit, that is.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Hooray...Problem's Fixed!

I think...

We had a computer speaker at the conference I was at this past weekend. When I cornered her after class and explained my problem, she suggested, "Why not just update your browser?"
    It worked!

So Cindy Brick is back on the air...tired and tuckered out (seven hours of driving will do that to you), but ready to start up again. Well, maybe after I have a frozen banana bite or two...

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Ardis James, Quilt Collector, Is Gone

Ardis James, the feminine half of the famous James Collection, died in mid-July. She will be greatly missed by many, including her husband Robert. Here's her story.