Thursday, May 31, 2012

Monday - Er, Friday - Stuff on the Way to Other Stuff

I've found so many amazing items on the Internet this week that the usual "Monday Stuff on the Way to..." is coming out on Friday! Our family is headed to Michigan for our niece's wedding, anyways, and there will be little time on Monday to post. You need to know this stuff early -- have a great weekend.
   P.S. The latest book giveaway, Super Simple Strips, only has a few days left to run. Pop on over to enter!

Here we go:

Avoiding spending traps at the grocery store. (Thanks, One Frugal Girl.)

A UFO hovers over Jerusalem's Dome of the Rock. (One of the spectators says, in a strong Southern accent, "Why, we've seen 'em in Mississippi lahk this!" You go, Lady.)

And in honor of our upcoming plane trip, six airline pilots who kicked butt. So to speak.

Workmen find just under $1 million in a broken pipe in an El Paso, TX condo. Hmmm...drug money?

This couple has worn matching outfits for 35 years. The Schwankes have been married 65 years. Joey, the wife, says that love and respect are the basis of their relationship. "To this day, if he does something for me I thank him, she says. "If we run into each other, we say excuse me. We fully respect each other and consider each other with every decision we make." Hey, I'll go for that, even if my shirt doesn't match the Brick's!

What it feels like to have your military man leave for duty -- by Diary of a Stay at Home Mom. I dare you to read this without getting a little choked up inside.

Arianna talks about austerity. This is Arianna Huffington of the Huffington her opinion can pack quite a wallop. According to her, the darling phrase of 2011 is a pariah in 2012 -- and that's a good thing. She even quotes Mitt Romney:
   In an interview with Time's Mark Halperin, Mitt Romney was asked whether, if elected, he'd make big budget cuts right away. His reply:
Well because, if you take a trillion dollars for instance, out of the first year of the federal budget, that would shrink GDP over 5 percent. That is by definition throwing us into recession or depression. So I'm not going to do that, of course... I don't want to have us go into a recession in order to balance the budget.
This echoed his comments back in February, when he made the common sense observation that "if you just cut, if all you're thinking about doing is cutting spending, as you cut spending you'll slow down the economy." 
    The Germans' levelheaded approach has been a huge failure, according to Huffington. And the public doesn't like it, anyways, because it means they have to -- gasp -- cut back.

And finally, one of the weirdest automated machines I've ever seen -- a c.1900 version of a mortuary! It's up for auction  at Skinner Auctions' Science & Technology Clocks Auction on June 2.

 Warning on the date given -- the mourners' fashions pictured in front of the clock sure don't look like 1900 to me -- I'm guessing this automaton is really closer to c.1920-25. But hey, fascinating, all the same.

Sad to See Him Go

Doc Watson is dead.
     One of bluegrass's best guitar-pickin' artists is gone; he was 89. The Brick and I have spent many a Saturday morning with Doc, listening to him play. Not only was he a great musician...but he had been blind from the age of one, due to an eye infection. For many years, he played bluegrass with his son Merle -- but Merle died in 1985 after a tractor accident on the family farm. Doc said at the time that he didn't lose his son; he lost his best friend.
   Now they're together. But oh, how we will miss them both.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Coffee Break - with Eccles Cakes and Miss Read

If you're drinking coffee, you're apt to live longer. 
The National Institute of Health and AARP's recent study of 400,000 is the largest ever...and surprised the pants off researchers, who expected to show that coffee was the Ever-Growing Kiss of Death. Earlier studies had suggested that coffee raised LDL levels ('bad' cholesterol), as well as blood pressure short-term...and those combined do pose a risk of heart disease.
     "Even in the new study," according to the Associated Press article by Marilynn Marchione, "it seemed coffee drinkers were more likely to die at any given time. But they also tended to smoke, drink more alcohol, eat more red meat and exercise less than people who don't drink coffee. Once that was taken into account, a clear pattern emerged: Each cup of coffee per day [caffeine or no caffeine] nudged up the chances of living longer."
     They just don't know why. (See the report here.)

While trying to face the day, first cup of coffee in hand, I enjoy a dip now and then in Miss Read's books. Miss Read, in case you're unfamiliar with her, has a whole English countryside of several towns, and vivid characters, waiting to meet you. They're "cosies," snippets and tidbits of these people's activities all year round -- and a refreshing change from your own. Her Christmas stories are unparalleled, too. (The nearest I can get, American-wise, is Jan Karon's work.)
   Anyhow, Miss Read's people love to add baked goods to their tea and coffee, including something called 'eccles cakes.' Wikipedia defines them as  "a small, round cake filled with currants and made from flaky pastry with butter, which is sometimes topped with demerara sugar." They seem to be something like a date-filled or fruitcake cookie. (The Mama makes a sugar cookie filled with ground raisins that seem to be like these. Looks more like a pancake in the photos, but you eat them out of hand.) Some sources say they're similar to the Banbury cakes of the nursery rhyme...but that doesn't help us Yanks much.
   Here's what the Salford City Council, home of the Eccles cake, says about it:

In 1793 James Birch’s shop on the corner of Vicarage Road in Eccles began selling small, flat, raisin-filled cakes. They sold, quite literally, like hot cakes!
Earlier, in 1769, Mrs Elizabeth Raffald, the housekeeper and owner of a confectioner’s shop in Arley Hall, Cheshire, wrote an influential cookery book, "The Experienced English HousekeeperExternal site" which became a best seller. The book contained a recipe for "sweet patties" with ingredients identifiably similar to the Eccles cakes of today. Could this have been the recipe seized upon by a cookery-mad servant girl who took a copy of the book with her when she went to live in ... Eccles?
Whatever the murky origins of the cakes, James Birch was certainly the first person credited with selling them on a commercial basis...
     Whether James Birch made a name for his cakes in the 1780s, in 1796, or indeed some time later, is now impossible to say. It is equally impossible to construct a link between James Birch and Elizabeth Raffald (who died four years before the opening of Birch’s shop).
More recently the question of origin of Eccles Cakes has been raised in Parliament. A question was tabled regarding the future of cakes made outside Eccles to the same ingredients. Could non Eccles-made cakes still be referred to (and sold) as Eccles cakes?

 How many cakes, cookies or cupcakes do we know that are worthy of being debated in Congress?? Back to the story:

Throughout history, families making Eccles and (the similar) Banbury cakes have all kept their recipes as closely guarded secrets. One of the most famous expressions in Eccles is "The secret dies with me!".
The authors of cookery books would therefore have had to invent their own recipes based on the taste of the cakes they purchased at different shops. 17th Century recipes for Banbury cakes do exist but show that they differ from 19th Century ones. A major difference was the use of yeast which was necessary before the introduction of raising agents.
Although no 18th Century and only a few 19th Century cookery books give recipes specifically for Eccles cakes, it may well be that early ones differ from those known today.
Mrs Raffald’s original recipe for "sweet patties" of 1769 was a mixture of the meat of a boiled calf’s foot (gelatine), plus apples, oranges, nutmeg, egg yolk, currants and French brandy enveloped in a good puff pastry which could be either fried or baked. The use of the word "meat" [or "mincemeat"] in the early recipes serves as a reminder that meat was originally an ingredient in mincemeat.
The fact that Eccles cakes were being exported by 1818 also suggests very good keeping qualities, so they may well have included spirits such as brandy and rum. No wonder the Puritans wanted to ban them.

Well, gee. I'd better go dig that calf's foot out of the freezer, and resurrect the French brandy -- or maybe I'll just use the modern recipe below. Surprise your family with this venerable goodie, or have one yourself, preferably while reading something by Miss Read. (I'd recommend Village School or Christmas Tales, for starters, or the first one I ever read -- Mrs. Pringle.)

ECCLES CAKES (courtesy of the Salford City Council)

  • 1lb 2oz/ 500g puff pastry
  • 1oz/ 25g butter, melted
  • Pinch freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 oz/55g candied peel
  • 4 oz/ 110g sugar
  • 8 oz/ 225g currants


Pre-heat oven to 425°/220°C/Gas 7
  • In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and butter and cook over a medium heat until melted.
  • Off the heat, add currants, candied peel and nutmeg.
  • On a lightly-floured surface, roll the pastry thinly and cut into rounds of about ¼ inch/0.5cm thickness and 4 inch/10cm diameter.
  • Place a small spoonful of filling onto center of each pastry circle.
  • Dampen the edges of the pastry with a little cold water and draw the edges together over the fruit and pinch to seal.
  • Turn over the patty over, then press gently with a rolling pin to flatten the cakes. Snip a V in the top with scissors. Place on a greased baking tray.
  • Brush with water and sprinkle with a little extra sugar.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until lightly browned round the edges.
  • Place on a wire rack and allow to cool.Try not to eat them all at once!

Update: While researching this, I discovered Miss Read, aka Dora Saint, died back on April 7 -- just 10 days short of her 99th birthday. She may not have had the notoriety of a Robert Ludlum or Clive Cussler...but her books were never out of print. Reading them, I felt as if I were talking to an old and trusted friend. Take a look at her obituary for more. Her bibliography is here.More on her life, and the area she lived in here.
   Rest in peace, Miss Read. We will miss you.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Do You Know Who I Am?

Right now, I don't have a clue who I am...but that's because I've been inhaling paint fumes for a few weeks now, and fighting off a hack-y case of flu, to boot. Every time I finish a job, I think, 'Hooray! We're making progress!'
   Now it's on to planting some more of the garden -- plus painting the ceilings. Paint dripping in your eyes and hair -- oh goody. I was teasing the Brick that he has a Painted Woman, a la Azeem in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves:

 While researching something else (I'll mention that soon), I cam across this very funny, biting urban legend. Quoting from the e-mail that spread it:

Star 100.7 Radio Station was doing one of their "is anyone listening who" bits this morning. The first one was, "Ever have a celebrity pull the 'do you know who I am' routine?"
A lady called in and said that when she was visiting her cattle rancher Uncle in Billings, MT a few years ago, they went to dinner at a restaurant that does not take reservations. The wait was about 45 minutes. Lots of other rancher types and their spouses were already waiting.
In comes Ted Turner and Jane Fonda. They want a table. The hostess says they'll have to wait about 45 minutes. Jane Fonda asks if she knows who she is? "Yes, but you'll still have to wait 45 minutes." Then Jane says, "Is the manager in?"
The manager comes out, "May I help you?" "Do you know who I am?", ask both Jane and Ted. "Yes, but these folks have all been waiting already and I can't put you in ahead of them."
Then Ted asks to speak to the owner. The owner comes out. Jane again asks, "do you know who I am?"
The owner says "Yes, I do.... Do you know who I am? I am the owner of this restaurant and a Vietnam Veteran. Not only will you not get a table ahead of all of my friends and neighbors here, but you also will not be eating in my restaurant tonight or any other night. Good bye."
Only in America, what a great country!

Sure, it may have happened. (HA.) A similar story, minus the veterans connection, was spread a few years ago about Martha Stewart trying to use the phone at a store -- and being told no. When she kicked up a fuss, the guy behind her (either Donald Trump or Martin Scorsese, depending on who's telling it) says, "Hey, they don't let me use the phone, either!"
    Here's another one:
A celebrity went to visit a nursing home for a charity event and was dismayed that no one seemed to recognize him. He started thinking that, perhaps, the old folks were just being polite by not accosting him for autographs and the like. So he went up to one old lady and said, "Do you know who I am?" The lady smiled and instantly the celebrity was reassured that the fame he'd worked so hard for hadn't slipped away. The old lady said, "Don't worry. The nurse can tell you who you are."

Here's another one, again with poor Martha as the target:
"Do you know who I am?" she [Martha Stewart] demanded, at which point the waiter climbed onto a chair and clanged a spoon against a glass. "Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen," he announced to the room at large. "I wonder if you can help. There's a lady here who doesn't seem to know who she is."

And this Internet story, supposedly about Danny Bonaduce (remember him from The Partridge Family?):
DANNY: Can I get a room, please?
FRONT DESK MAN: We're full, I'm sorry.
DANNY: (chuckles) Yeah, ah, do you know who I am?
FRONT DESK MAN: Does it matter?
DANNY: Well, I was on The Partridge Family.
DANNY: It was a TV show. Back in the - I'm Danny Bonaduce.
FRONT DESK MAN: I'm a little busy right now, sir.
DANNY: I also host The Other Half.
FRONT DESK MAN: The other half of what?
DANNY: (leans in and whispers) Look, okay, don't say anything, but... I was on that show... um, Celebrity... Celebrity Boxing.
DANNY: Shhh... shhh...
FRONT DESK MAN: Yeah, I LOVED you on that!
DANNY: Thanks. Thanks a lot. So what do you think,
can I --
FRONT DESK MAN: No, I'm sorry, we're full.

This type of humor's been around for a long time. Witness this excerpt from an 1886 issue of the San Francisco Chronicle:
There was once a very important State official in California who thought that everybody knew him, or ought to know him. He was one day walking through a field, when a bull addressed him in an undertone and made for him with its head down and horns in a position to raise him. He was a State official, a man of dignity and political power and natural pomposity, but he ran. He ran surprisingly well. He ran even better than he did for office, and he got to the fence first. He clambered over out of breath and dignity, and found the owner of the bull calmly contemplating the operation. What do you mean, sir?" asked the irate official, "What do you mean by having an infuriated animal like that roaming over the fields?"
"Well, I guess the bull has some right in the field --"
"Right! Right! Do you know who I am, sir? Do you know who I am?"
The farmer shook his head.
"I, sir, I am General ------ ",
"Why in thunder didn't you tell the bull?"

Jane and Ted go to dinner
   Rush Limbaugh, during his April 10, 1996 radio show, seems to be the earliest person to bring up the Jane and Ted Go To Dinner story. Other variations say the boorish diners were John Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry. (Many thanks to the 'Urban Legends' section of for these instances.) Another discussion is at, an excellent clearinghouse for rumors and weird stories. (Some which end up to be true!) According to Snopes, Jane Fonda did indeed go to one of the restaurants connected with the story -- Sir Scott's Oasis Steakhouse in Manhattan, MT. But according to the folks at Sir Scott's, Jane just said she had to leave when the 45-min. wait was mentioned. Bo-ring...but probably true.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Monday Stuff on the Way to Other Stuff: Bolder Boulder version

After a weekend of wind, wind, wind, it's quiet and peaceful here. And hot. One extreme or the other, it seems.
    A whole lot of paint has been slapped on the basement downstairs, as well as the garage. Things are looking much better!
     The only casualty, so far, has been my fingers. Yesterday, while finishing up the garage doors, I managed to catch both hands in one of the door 'bends.' I almost screamed for help (the Brick was taking a nap), but managed to pull one hand out, then pull the door up enough to get the other hand free. Needless to say -- OUCH.
    Woke up this morning after a vivid dream that the fingers had turned into puffy sausages. Whew. They were a tad numb (still are), but ok.
    The chickens are definitely gawky teenagers now -- feathers in place, busy pecking, trying to fly and occasionally arguing. They enjoy sitting (and pooping) on their feed trough. We have niece Brianna's wedding to go to this weekend. When we get back, we must figure out a pen area for them. (The Brick was eyeing a library table we had to throw out, after the basement flood, thinking it might be a starting point. I was thinking the same thing.)
   While I go back to painting, you might enjoy these items gleaned from wandering the 'Net. Don't forget -- the free book giveaway for Super Simple Strips is still going strong! This is an excellent book for using up leftover scraps...and a perfect summer project. Go straight to the post to enter. (You get extra entries for 'following' the blog, or subscribing via e-mail, too.)

A St. Louis Goodwill gets an unusual 'donation' -- $14,000 in cash hidden in a box of Christmas ornaments. Once they publicized it, 15 people each claimed they were the donor!
    Other high-value things have been donated to Goodwills in the past, including an ancient pot, a book written by Albert Einstein (in German, naturally) -- and a guy who sewed his life savings into the seams of a suit, and accidentally donated it. (He wants the suit back. No luck, so far.)

The Easter Island statues aren't just heads -- they have full bodies, with petroglyphs, too. (At least some of them.) Quick, somebody tell Thor Heyerdahl!

How the 'Net can keep you out of debt -- including free apps, and being able to check property valuations. (Thanks, Carrie on the Cheap.)

The Wartime Kitchen -- what cooks went through, in the days of rationing and short supplies. This is long, but worth it (Thanks so much, Diary of a Stay At Home Mom.)

The 80-year-old who fell out of her safety harness while skydiving -- and lived! (If my bra showed on national media, and I survived, so what...)

A postal worker who was on disability for her serious back injury -- yet just happened to run 80-plus long distance races. She was outed when she did the Boston Marathon.  (Oopsies. She should have done the Bolder Boulder, instead. Video's for the 2011 race...)

      She must have relatives:

Ten people who faked serious illnesses -- or claimed to for family members. Their motive? Cold, hard cash.

Speaking of cold hard cash, what Mark Zuckerberg's prenup agreements may have looked like. (Interesting that he married one day AFTER the IPO of Facebook, don't you think, considering that marital property laws generally rule that you keep the income you make before you wed?? Or, as many of the commenters say, 'Who cares...')

People who quit their jobs -- and made millions doing it. (Note that many of these new businesses are related to food. Interesting.)

Men in Black stories. The real ones -- not the movies.

How some veterans are turning their uniforms into memory pieces -- by shredding and making them into paper. (And I thought cutting them up for quilts was clever.)

Have a peaceful, restful Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Happy Memorial Day!

THANK YOU to those soldiers and patriots, past, present and future, who honor our country with their lives and their commitment.

We appreciate it so much.

Have a great, restful weekend.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Honoring Our Fallen Heroes with the Truth

Memorial Day is an important subject in our household. The family connections demand it. My grandpa served in WWI; my dad was in Germany during his Army days around the Korean War.
    The Brick's military ties are even stronger. His dad was career Navy (a medical corpsman stationed at Camp LeJeune, a Marine base). Several uncles also served during WWII. Both his brothers retired from the military: one from the Air Force (he captained a bomber-monitoring base in Montana), the other from the Navy (at the Naval Academy, captain of a nuclear submarine...then a desk in the Pentagon). The Brick himself spent six years in the Navy before I met him -- first in Great Falls, ID; then the submarine Batfish; and finally, the U.S.S. Dewey, an aircraft carrier.
    Although our daughters chose not to enter the military, we've had nieces and nephews serve.

We've had a front-row seat to the stresses and demands a military life puts on you...for families who stay behind, as well as those who face action, pain and the possibility of death. Every single day. For the sake of our country. For us.

I am so grateful for their resolve and commitment.
 I honor those who paid for that commitment with their wounds --and lives. THANK YOU.

It therefore makes my stomach turn when fakers emerge who claim that they served in combat. They have great, horrific stories. They apply for disability. They attend veterans' events with chests resplendent with medals.
    That they never earned.

The Supreme Court is currently working on one of these Stolen Valor cases -- a Californian, Xavier Alvarez, announced that he had been awarded the Medal of Honor. (He wasn't.) His lawyer is arguing that yes, he lied - but so what. It didn't hurt anybody! (Alvarez wasn't seen actually wearing the fake medal - a point in his favor.)
   Judge Sotomayor didn't seem to have a problem with this, either:

SOTOMAYOR: What I'm trying to get to is, what harm are we protecting here? I thought that the core of the First Amendment was to protect even against offensive speech. We have a legion of cases that said your emotional reaction to offensive speech is not enough. If that is the core of our First Amendment, what I hear, and that's what I think the court below said, is you can't really believe that a war veteran thinks less of the medal that he or she receives because someone's claiming fraudulently that they got one. They don't think less of the medal. We're reacting to the fact that we're offended by the thought that someone's claiming an honor they didn't receive. So outside of the emotional reaction, 3 where's the harm? And I'm not minimizing it. I too take offense when people make these kinds of claims, but I take offense when someone I'm dating makes a claim that's not true.

(Ok, maybe a little. But isn't  this called FRAUD in any other situation...especially if they use said claims to raise money, get disability benefits, special treatment, and such??)

JUSTICE ALITO: Do you really think that there is -- that the First Amendment -- that there is First Amendment value in a bald-faced lie about a purely factual statement that a person makes about himself, because that person would like to create a particular persona? Gee, I won the Medal of Honor. I was a Rhodes scholar, I won the Nobel Prize. There's a personal -­ the First Amendment protects that?
MR. LIBBY (Alvarez's lawyer): Yes, Your Honor, so long as it doesn't cause imminent harm to another person or imminent harm to a government function.

Imminent harm. That phrase is the defense's main foundation. But the application -- how can anything but the truth be approved? Chief Justice Roberts hit on the crux:

What is the First Amendment value of a lie...a pure lie? 

The Supreme Court hasn't released a decision yet...but it's bound to be interesting.
     And if you're thinking this is a test of the 2005 Stolen Valor act, you're absolutely right. It's already been invalidated several times as a "free speech" issue, including by a Denver judge. ( In other words, you have the right to lie about anything you want -- and not be held accountable for what you say or claim. Pathetic.)

This problem is more widespread than you think.  For more on Stolen Valor, try the amazing book by B.G. Burkett (extremely detailed, though a tad generalized), or visit the website. There are others, too, including the Military Times' Hall of Stolen Valor and the P.O.W. Network, that document people who lie about their service and medals.

   They shouldn't be allowed to get away with it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

New Book Giveaway: Super Simple Strips

Is your scrap basket getting a little too full? Clear it out -- and give yourself some new quilts for decorating, selling and giving with our newest book giveaway:

SUPER SIMPLE STRIPS by Lynda Smith and Nancy Milligan

Eighteen quilts in glorious color -- full instructions and some templates. These patterns look harder to make than they are, too! I'm a particular fan of the way Lynda and Nancy mix applique with pieced patchwork...four of the quilts do this, and masterfully.

Because of the Memorial Day holiday, this giveaway is going to run a bit longer than usual. Which gives you plenty of time to make a comment below: what's your favorite quilt style, and which colors do you find yourself using over and over?
    If you 'follow' this blog, or get posts via e-mail, be sure to mention that in a separate comment -- it's worth THREE entries in this giveaway. (At least 2 people, maybe more, have won past giveaways because of this. It helps!)

Deadline is midnight on Sunday, June 3, and we'll randomly choose a winner on Monday the 4th. Good luck!

Soldiering On

The little dear at Southern Hospitality has been painting and patching for weeks now on her new house.

I can relate.

Daughter #1 and I got the main room painted in the downstairs area -- only to realize that the color was wrong. (Too light.) I went back to Home Depot last night and got three different samplers -- hopefully one of these is the right dove gray shade I need to go with the rock fireplace, and gray-tan marbled floors!
   Then it will be on through the other rooms, painting them successively darker shades of gray. Very monochromatic.
    We listen to Bill Cosby and Smothers Brothers albums. The dogs can't understand why they're not welcome, fighting and racing through the area...after all, it's wide open -- why not!

Once the painting's done, then it's on to the baseboards. And chair rail. Then putting things away, finishing weeding up the house flower bed, planting the rest of the garden...and somehow keeping everything else going, as well, before we leave next week for a family wedding.

Plus it looks that I may be making a flying trip to Portland; a dear uncle died this morning, after weeks of ill health. The Mama wants me to go to the funeral service with her, if I can.

I feel just beat, but there's no time to be tired right now.

In less than a month, all this will be done. I'm just not sure how...

Update: The Mama decided not to go to Portland, after all. My uncle's family is holding a service in Portland next week...but a second service in Michigan in mid-June. Mom said she felt comfortable waiting until the Michigan service. I was soooo grateful...
    Painted in the rain. (The area was under cover -- I just wasn't.) Got chilled, which a hot bath and food haven't fixed yet. Maybe a good long sleep will do it. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday Stuff on the Way to Other Stuff...And A Winner!

Kelly of Koala-T Longarm Quilting, you won the Victory Quilts book giveaway! Just e-mail me at with your snail mail address, and we'll get it on its way to you. Congratulations!
   Look for the next book giveaway to be on shortly. Meanwhile, I've been out planting beans and pulling weeds -- we had a steady day's worth of rain, which is almost unheard of out here in 'high desert' Colorado. Plants are practically leaping out of the ground, and I wanted to take advantage of it.
   The girls -- all 9 Black Australorp hens -- are heading toward adolescence. They strut around, pecking and fussing...and try to pull their new feathers down over their gawky, bony legs, like teenagers with too-short skirts. (Why do the legs get longer before the rest of the body catches up?) They spend their days in the outdoor coop (where Abby the dog stares at them, fascinated), and nights in the garage under the heat lamp. In a few weeks, they'll be outside all the time.
    Combine the outdoor work with the continuing painting, scraping and putting away stuff in the basement, and I ache all over. So does the Brick. Hot baths and Tylenol help, but I am starting to feel like Bill Cosby's mom -- 
Sick and tired.

While I continue to Deal With Stuff, here were some interesting things that popped up on the 'Net:

I'll Have Another won the Preakness! One more race, and the Triple Crown looms...this, for a horse no one thought would do anything in the Kentucky Derby. No one, that is, except his owners...and the jockey who rode him. Go guys, go!

Did you know you can re-grow celery in your garden? I sure didn't...but made a beeline to my vegetable crisper once I read this...

A nine-year-old has the courage to protest against Westboro Baptist church. This is the creepy 'church' (term used loosely) who pickets soldiers' funerals, among other cruel things. Good for the kid. 

100 words on why it pays to never give up. (Thanks, Len Penzo.)

Chef Mario Batali lives on a food stamp budget -- $31 per person -- for a week

Saver Queen's take on 9 things she did right this past Christmas. What especially caught my eye on this one was how apt these tips were for presents all year around. Like graduations, for instance. We've had three high school and four college graduations to deal with -- and that really starts to add up. Two of my favorite presents to give: The Millionaire Next Door (great long-term financial advice) and The Case For Faith (an excellent, practical analysis of Christianity). Put a check somewhere in the book, and you'll know for sure if it got read (or at least looked at) when it's cashed!

If you think you really need an item RIGHT probably don't. (Thanks, Mrs. Accountability of Out of Debt Again.)

How to make it through a money drought -- by planning ahead. (This is from Penny Thots, my occasional stomping ground.)

Disco is bereft. Not only did it lose Donna Summer last week, but now Robin Gibb is gone.
I spent a few years in college working for a backpacking/rock climbing group. We regularly took Michigan youth groups, college groups -- and even a few Wards of the Court -- on adventure trips to the White Mountains in New Hampshire.  The drive was an overnight one, with one of the instructors driving the bus while the others dozed in the back with the kids. I often pulled the 11 p.m. - 3 a.m. shift, because I didn't have as much trouble staying awake. (Still don't.) About the only radio station still transmitting that time of night was an all-disco one out of Canada. I can still hear the strains of "Bad Girls" and "Ring My Bell" echoing in the dark...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

It's a Graduation!

Congratulations, niece Brianna and nephew Kevin! We're proud of you! 

It's on to marriage in a few weeks, then Kevin starts grad school...

I have a soft spot in my heart for this...I finished grad school before the Brick, and worked several years in various office jobs while he got his B.S., then his Master's. (He's actually 3 1/4 years older, but spent six years in the Navy first, while I went straight into college from high school.)
     It will be an interesting time for them, while they learn to adjust in all sorts of each other, to a new place and job, to a new life. They'll do it beautifully -- I'm sure of that.

Aunt Cindy and Uncle Dave love you!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wednesday Stuff on the Way to Other Stuff

It's nice to finally be home for a while -- but that may soon change. A much-loved uncle is dying in the Portland area, and I promised The Mama (his youngest sister) that I would go with her, if she decided to fly there. I've been checking plane fares ever since. 
     Spent a good-sized chunk of the morning weeding. We've had such warm weather that the plants seem to be leaping out of the ground. If we only got more rain...

On the Internet front, in the meantime:

There's been a big snowstorm in Ithaca, NY. (Please God, not here -- the tomatoes are in!)

Martha Stewart's baking pretty, flowery cupcakes -- and you can, too. I'd make fun of Her Superiorness... but these cupcakes are so darn cute!

Too much frugality may end up costing you money. I can see this, waiting too long to do something about the bad tooth -- and root canal -- and crown -- I had this winter. It would have been better to deal with it and pay the money up-front. However, unlike this poster, I STILL am not going to go back to cable tv. We save a bundle without it.

Twenty weird crimes caught because of Facebook -- and the Internet.

Is the Zodiac killer still alive? This author thinks so.

The lowdown on the "underwear bomb" plot. The two times I flew last week, everyone was getting scanned. No exceptions. Made me think of this:

From the "Check Your Stock - Fast" Department, comes the cheerful news that the European Central Bank is no longer dealing with several prominent Greek banks. The Greek banks in question haven't made enough progress toward solving their liquidity problems. The issue of Greek finances has been playing havoc with Wall Street for months now, and no end in sight.

Eleven things a writer should not say to an agent. I know a lot of writers, published and would-be, visit here. Some good advice.

And, from the "Figures" Department, comes:
Mike the Headless Chicken is running for president. The headless rooster from Colorado has been dead since 1947...but since he lived for 18 months without a head, why should that little fact bother him?
Speaking of...our 9 (headed) chickies are doing just fine. They bang around the tub we're using for a brooder, walking on each other and pecking for juicy bits in the pine shavings. Unfortunately, they're not too sure what's food and what isn't. I put them out in the outdoor coop for a few hours, while I scrubbed out the brooder tub. Threw in a handful of grass, one dead worm and one terrified live one. They immediately commenced pecking at the worms, but as near as I can tell, basically trampled the live one to death. Silly butts. I only wish I could get them to quit perching on (and decorating) the feeder. 

"...The old virtue of thrift began to look more and more suspicious. In classical economics, savings -- the result of individuals' self-denial and thrift - formed the necessary pool of funds from which corporations borrowed when they needed to build a new factory or hire more workers. But the war had so inflated America's manufacturing capacity that business interests began to see consumption, not savings, as the key to maintaining stability and growth. Corporations feared that if consumers internalized the war's scarcity message and withheld their cash even after the battles ended, corporate profits would suffer permanently.
     Thrift, many businessmen believed, was an antiquated habit that didn't speak to the conditions of a consumer-driven, industrial economy...Toward the end of the war, retailers in nearly every city put placards in their windows telling shoppers it was 'Business as Usual' and warning them to 'Beware of Thrift and Unwise Economy.'"
    A discussion of how people dealt with economizing in WWI, from In Cheap We Trust: The Story of a Misunderstood American Virtue by Lauren Weber 

Gee, guess I'd better go spend something! Or go to a Tea Party, instead.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A New Giveaway: Victory Quilts

Congrats to Barb in PA -- she's the winner of our Gone to Texas book! Good for you...

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And our newest giveaway is VICTORY QUILTS by Eleanor Burns -- an interesting (and pattern-filled) look at 1940s sampler quilts. You've got a chance to win your very own copy, just by entering a comment at the end of this post. ('Follow' this blog, or sign up by e-mail, and it's three extra chances to win. Be sure to mention it in a separate post.)
     Giveaway ends Sunday at midnight -- you've got all this week to enter. Good luck!

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I'm back from Michigan. Spent the past few days cleaning up the house, washing/ironing clothes (oh, the excitement), and a lovely hour or two watching the chickies peck around. They're growing like crazy. Tomorrow: more stuff planted in the garden, and catching up here on the blog. Byee....

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday Catch-Up

Yours truly has been in Michigan for the past few days, putting on a bridal shower for niece Brianna, and seeing The Mama for Mother's Day. The night before I left, the Brick looked hard at me and said, "Do you mind if I have some chicks over for the weekend?"
       Well, he's got 'em -- 9 little feathery (and growing) bundles of Black Austrolorp joy. The chicks are definitely larger. They zip busily around, banging up against the waterer and 'roosting' up on the feedpan. They're beginning to discover that they have wings, too -- so lots of flapping going on!
      The shower went well: nearly 30 women having fun munching on a fruit centerpiece (and a huge teacup-shape cake, full of chocolate pudding "coffee"), playing games and watching Ms. Bri unwrapping presents. (What a dear.) The next few days are largely wandering around, finishing up some work...and a big platter of enchiladas for nephew Adam's birthday party.

     Until I get home the morning of Mother's Day, I hope you've stopped by the latest giveaway post -- there's a free copy of Gone to Texas waiting for your entry! You've got until Sunday at midnight, MST; we'll pick a winner on Monday. Go here to enter -- and if you 'follow' or subscribe via e-mail, be sure to mention that in a separate entry. That will get you three entries, instead of one. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

New Book Giveaway: Gone to Texas

by Betsy Chutchian   (Kansas City Star Books)

"More than 150 years ago a pioneer family left a sign on their Kentucky door reading “Gone to Texas."

As did so many of their generation, Robert and Lizzie Carpenter packed up their belongings and headed West to find a better life. They chose the North Central Texas prairie to set up housekeeping. And, it was here, on their newly built homestead, that Lizzie began writing her journal, which she kept from 1857 to 1882. Chronicled within its pages are the details of pioneer life—including her deep love for quiltmaking."

Lizzie's great-granddaughter, Betsy Chutchian, studied her ancestor's journal, and recreated twelve of the quilts mentioned. Along the way, she learned a great deal about pioneer life on the frontier...and the strong-held beliefs that make life worth living. 

(See more, as well as sample pages, here.)

Want a FREE copy of this book for your library? All you have to do is leave a comment on this post. If you 'follow' this blog, or subscribe via e-mail, mention that too -- it's good for three entries. As always, you can enter until midnight MST Sunday, Mother's Day, and we'll randomly draw a winner on Monday. 

Good luck!

Buck Buck!

The chickens are here! 

 They feel like little balls of wire, overlayed with fluff, when you pick them up. You could squash them in a second -- but they don't know that. They rush around, pecking at little bits that interest them, or take long drinks from the waterer, looking up at us...

Who the heck are you? 

Charley the dog was fascinated. He kept taking long sniffs of each chick -- until they pecked him on the nose. (Good for them.) When I go out to change the water, he rushes alongside and squeezes through the dog door to see them first. They live in a large rubber tub in the garage, with two heatlamps trained on them. (We keep the heatlamps for winter evenings, so the dogs can snuggle underneath them to stay warm.) It's been quite chilly here, and the first night, the heatlamps automatically turned off. We came home from church to find the chicks squashed in a pile-- unfortunately, four of them had gotten pushed into the waterer in their haste to stay warm, and had gotten soaked. The Brick and I held them under the heatlamps, gently patting them with a towel until their shivering stopped, and they began to take an interest in things again.
     I am paranoid now. When I go out and see the chickens huddled together (that generally means they're cold), then I panic and pull the heatlamps down closer. When they're under the board across the tub (which should mean they're too hot), I  push the lamps back up. When -- as this morning -- they're under the board for shade AND huddled together -- what to do then?
    They seem to enjoy us checking on them, adjusting this or filling that. They love perching on their feeder, or messing around in the water.

And I'd swear they've already grown some, four days from when they arrived here. 

I am headed to Michigan this week, to host a wedding shower for niece Brianna. The Brick said, grinning, "Do you mind if I have some chicks over while you're gone?"

Here's what they look like in grown form -- Black Australorps, an Australian version of Buff Orpingtons. (Photo's from
Our current chickies seem to have more mottling then these -- almost a quail or chickadee look. The wettest of the foursome (quite recovered now) looks like someone scribbled with tan crayon on her head.
    I think they're beautiful. Anyone got nine good names for feisty, peeping busy little chicks?

It may be a little quiet around here this week -- the Mama does not believe in computers, and I have to make a special trip to McDonald's or my cousins with the laptop. But I'll be around.
     Hope you are, too.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Monday Stuff on the Way to Other Stuff

 Ever since I'll Have Another, a horse that wasn't expected to win, manned by a jockey who wasn't expected to do anything, took this year's Kentucky Derby...well, I believe in long-shots again. Wow, what a come-from-behind win! He was in seventh place around the final turn -- and still caught and passed the lead (and favorite) horse Bodemeister by 1 1/2 lengths at the finish line. (Specifics here.)
      (See 14 other amazing Derby wins in this slideshow.)
Will he make the Triple Crown? I'm not holding my breath...but this race was amazing.

Chip E. Nell, you've won this past week's giveaway of Quilts of the Golden West -- good for you! Please e-mail me promptly at, so we can send your book on its way. We'll be starting up a new giveaway shortly -- come on back to see.
   P.S. We're still running a sale on QUILTS OF THE GOLDEN WEST, to go along with this giveaway! It normally retails for a few pennies short of $30 -- but this week and next, you can get your own copy for $14.95, including media rate shipping! (Yours truly will sign it, too.) E-mail, or order via the Brickworks website, and add a note that you're ordering the Golden West Special. We'll fix it on our end before we charge your card, or refund the overage via Paypal. (Or send us a check for $14.95, and include a note. That'll do it.) Sale ends May 13, 2012. 

 There's more amazing stuff out there in Internet-Land:

Living large, paying no rent -- New York has 19 historic homes with caretakers that do just this.

The hills are alive with the sound of yodeling -- at least in Berlin. (I lived in Austria one summer during college. The Austrians I talked to HATED the Sound of Music movie...according to them, it opened one night in Vienna -- and closed the next day.)

Lion Yarns is offering a crocheted Blossom Scarf pattern -- it's this month's freebie on the Brickworks website! (Go here for picture and directions.)

Four moms (and other people) offer up ways to use their leftovers. (Of special note:  ten delicious way to use those oddball bits and pieces.)  (Thanks, Raising Olives and The Common Room.)

A Month of Meatless? Radmegan did it. Certainly stretches the budget more...although I would miss meat too much. We Bricks are pretty carnivorous, though we've cut down some. 

Coiled magazine paper bowls. Frugal Upstate's got a very helpful tutorial on how to make these. (Would The Mama want one for Mother's Day?)

Could you set money aside for savings, even if you're only making a few bucks a day? Other cultures do it. (So much for American whining that we just don't make enough to save.)

From Penny Thots, a new blog I'm writing for -- More is Less, Less is More: Winning Ways to Save on Food.

And this vivid take on a Beatles classic:

Have a great week -- and be sure to stop in tomorrow, and enter the next giveaway.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Before I begin -- have you stopped by the latest book giveaway, Quilts of the Golden West? It's up for grabs this week to a random winner. Stop by the original post and make a comment; mention it if you sign up for e-mail, or 'follow,' and you've got 3 extra entries. Ends Sunday at midnight MST; we'll draw a winner Monday.
* * * * * * * * * *
The fifth of May has a huge significance out here in the Western states...not only does it mean BEER (fine, 'cerveza'), but Mexicans and Hispanics celebrate their cultural ties. (Not to mention it's 'sort of' Mexico's Independence Day.) It's a perfect time to put some great Mexican food on your table -- like shrimp enchiladas in a creamy sauce. Add a fruit salad, some refried beans and rice...and hey, life is good.


1 pound shrimp, peeled (or use a pound of smaller 'salad shrimp')
1 package flour or corn tortillas (I prefer corn, the Brick likes flour better)
1 package cream cheese*
1 teaspoon garlic
1/2 cup sour cream 
1/2 chopped onion
2 cups 'quesa fresa' (if you can't get this creamy Mexican cheese, substitute shredded mozzarella or Monterey Jack)
1 cup salsa verde

*Kraft has an excellent Cooking Creme product that works especially well in this recipe

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat tortillas briefly in the oven (5 min.), or nuke them in the microwave (30 seconds), until they're just pliable. Take each tortilla, add a strip of salsa verde sauce, then a sprinkle of onion, fresa cheese, then top with shrimp. Roll quickly, and place in a casserole or pan. (Spray it first, to keep the food from sticking.)
    Heat the cream cheese until it's melted, then stir in garlic and sour cream. Pour over filled tortillas, sprinkle with any leftover onion and cheese. Bake for 40 min., until shrimp are cooked and sauce is bubbling. Serves 4, with (hopefully) leftovers.  

Pioneer Woman's hosting a huge smorgasbord of Mexican food ideas -- stop by for more ideas. Have fun!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

National Prayer Day

Today is National Prayer Day...

An observance that our country has been doing every year, with connections as far back as George Washington.

I firmly believe in the power of prayer -- I've seen it literally change my life, as well as others.

Why not take some time to pray today? 

Places to Go, People to See, Things to Do

It's been a tad zany around here.
     Yesterday, I spent the morning appraising for a client with a huge Civil War era collection she's donating. Her boxes, all 20+, were in a storage area -- and heavy. By the time we got done opening and cataloguing, my arms felt like gorillas were sitting on them.
     Add to that some hours of quilt restoration, and...
     The house looks like a bomb went off. The garden needs weeding. And I plan to spend afternoon and evening downstairs painting in the main room.
     I know. Gripe, moan, complain. 
    On the plus side, two of the restored quilts I've been working on are clean and ready to go out the door. The main room is actually ready to paint. (Took a lot of sanding and washing to get it to that point.) Found a steal of a rug at our local thrift shop, after looking and Craigslisting for ages. And the chicks will be here in two days!
     While I'm working (and muttering to myself), take a look at an interesting graphic, "Six Simple Ways to Avoid Burnout," over at Trent's site,  Simple Dollar. Some excellent basic advice on overdoing it, and how to cope  -- yes, I'm paying attention.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A New Giveaway: Quilts of the Golden West

This week's giveaway hits very close to home: I wrote it!

by Cindy Brick
(Kansas City Star)

     This book began as a close look at the various gold and silver rushes around the country, beginning with Georgia and North Carolina (they started it!), and moving on to California and the other Western states. A beautiful gold small-figured print came out in the 1880s; we call it 'butterscotch' or 'caramel,' but one of its other names was California Gold. (Yes, a commemorative of the Forty-Niners..even though California's Rush actually started in 1848. Read the book to find out why.)
     There's a lot about the men and women -- especially women -- who participated in the Rushes. That includes the quilt on the front cover (2 versions - phototransfer and redwork) that honors 9 different women who had something to do with gold, silver or copper. Those figures include two old Colorado acquaintances, Baby Doe Tabor and Molly Brown, as well as lesser-known figures like Madame Pantalon, Lotta Crabtree...even Belle Starr, 'outlaw queen' of the Oklahoma Territory. (She took her gold and silver!)

(See some sample pages by clicking here, including a close-up look at the front cover quilt.)
     To my surprise, this book also became a lot about money -- after all, our financial system was built on and often influenced by these mineral discoveries. Unfortunately, a lot of financial panics happened because of them -- political candidates ran, based on their support of gold or silver -- and quiltmakers everywhere expressed their opinions of the events in their quilts! (We should, too, the book points out.)
     More than a dozen different patterns round things out, so you can stitch your own Golden West quilts. Full instructions, of course. (By the way, I don't care if you want to make these for sale, as well as your personal use. Honest. Just put that you used a pattern in Cindy Brick's book, etc. etc....and please don't make photocopies, except for your own personal use.)

Are you curious now? Win your own copy of QUILTS OF THE GOLDEN WEST just by leaving a comment on this post! (Mention in a separate comment that you follow the blog and subscribe to it by e-mail, and you've got 3 extra entries. That, by the way, is how at least two of the giveaway winners have gotten their books.) 
    Giveaway ends Sunday at midnight, and we'll pick a winner on Monday. Good luck!

P.S. We're running a sale on QUILTS OF THE GOLDEN WEST, to go along with this giveaway! It normally retails for a few pennies short of $30 -- but this week and next, you can get your own copy for $14.95, including media rate shipping! (Yours truly will sign it, too.) E-mail, or order via the Brickworks website, and add a note that you're ordering the Golden West Special. We'll fix it on our end before we charge your card, or refund the overage via Paypal. (Or send us a check for $14.95, and include a note. That'll do it.) Sale ends May 13, 2012.