Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Is This Oil You Want?

Olive of us think so!

(Sorry...I couldn't resist.)

Now that the season is growing a bit thin, there's an easy way to preserve those wonderful summertime flavors. It's called:

 olive oil. 

Take a clove of fresh garlic, add a handful of chopped sage. Fill the bottle with olive oil, and let steep. Drain...or leave the herbs in place. Great for lacing onto meats, potatoes or salads.

Or try blanching your herbs before you add them. A cup of basil, blanched and buzzed in a blender with a cup of oil, gives your oil a lovely green hue and woodsy taste, especially when combined with a branch of rosemary. Let steep for a few days, then drain. Keep the oil refrigerated for longer-lasting taste; it will thicken a bit, but remain tasty.

     Here's a a similar recipe, using equal parts of tarragon and parsley.

It's not just herbs. Sliced and dried tomatoes will keep even longer when stored in olive oil...and give it a nice taste, as well. A branch of rosemary goes nicely here, as well.

Balsamic vinegar is another good way to preserve these spicy, aromatic herbs and veggies. Steep equal amounts of your vinegar and herbs together. Give them a few days, and lace your salads with the result.

These make nice gifts, too.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff - Quick, Post!

The Mama leaves tomorrow, which meant that we stuffed as much as possible into the past few days. Our regular duties got done -- but we also went out a few times for my birthday, and headed up into the mountains to look at fall colors. (Mostly yellow - but a heart-lifting, inspiring shade that makes you feel good all over. Don't feel sorry for us.)
      This weekend hasn't gone the way I planned...but that's life, isn't it!

Meanwhile, here's the latest batch of Stuff from Internetland: 

Have you decorated for fall? Maureen at It's All Connected has done a nice job on her front door. She has chickens, too -- the straw bale was an easy fix!

How Volunteering Pays Off, courtesy of Five Cent Nickel. She's right -- volunteering can get you discounts and free tickets, as well as the knowledge that you've helped a cause you care about. Good idea.

Ken Ilgunas is planning on walking 2,000 miles through Canada. Starting now. Nutso...but I plan to follow him, to see how he's doing. (Great, so far, in spite of a broken toe and blisters.)

Bond fund manager Jeffrey Gundlach came home from a business trip, to find his Santa Monica home's walls stripped -- an estimated $10 million of paintings and other art are gone. If you have information on the burglary, he's offering a $200,000 reward.

Copyright law: what's protected, what isn't?  A helpful quickie guide to the subject.

What do large families find most helpful in Christmas presents? Here's a bunch, thanks to Raising Olives of the 4 Moms group.  (Be sure to use the links to the other 3 moms, too.) Many of the mentions here are outstanding for smaller-family kids, too...and unusual. I hadn't even heard of a number of these.

In keeping with the collegiate rose trend I mentioned last week, FTD's come out with a whole new line of multi-colored roses, including the  Gemstone Alluring Hues bouquet

And their 'Time to Celebrate Rainbow' rose bouquet

Wow...but I just have one question.
     What will the Language of Flowers people do, as far as interpreting via color??

And to end this week's parade, a story from my friend Jerry:

After 35 years of marriage, a husband and wife came for counseling. When asked what the problem was, the wife went into a tirade listing every problem they had ever had in the years they had been married. On and on and on: neglect, lack of intimacy, emptiness, loneliness, feeling unloved and unlovable, an entire laundry list of un-met needs she had endured.
Finally, after allowing this for a sufficient length of time, the therapist got up, walked around the desk and after asking the wife to stand, he embraced and kissed her long and passionately as her husband watched - with a raised eyebrow. The woman shut up and quietly sat down as though in a daze. The therapist turned to the husband and said, "This is what your wife needs at least 3 times a week. Can you do this?"

"Well, I can drop her off here on Mondays and Wednesdays, but on Fridays, I play golf."

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Stolen Valor Update

Remember Timothy Poe, the America's Got Talent military entrant who said he learned to sing to heal his stuttering? The first post is here...and the update here.

He got the stuttering from being injured in a horrific accident in Afghanistan while he was in the military.

And earned all sorts of medals.

A brave-looking photo of Poe accompanied all this, as well as lots of lump-in-the-throat comments and flag-waving. 

Only it wasn't true.

Poe wasn't in any horrendous accident. He was in an accident. (He has produced some military documents which refer to his 'physical disability'...but they're not real specific. Also, his injuries are relatively minor.)

He sang professionally before he was ever drafted to Afghanistan. “I do not know how to explain why I answered about never singing before,” he says. “I was in a band. But it was before the accident... When the judges asked, before I could even think about answering my words had already came out.”

Oh yeah, the photo wasn't of him, either.

Any other obfuscation, he blames on the accident -- it fogged his brain and Made Him Do It.
He's very sorry.

The 'exclusive interview' with Poe is here. (He was booted out of America's Got Talent, thankfully.) Just seems like another case of Stolen Valor - claiming experience and honors you never earned. Or deserved.

“I would like to take the time to tell the the American people how truly sorry I am that they had to endure the incomplete facts," Poe says during the interview.  "I understand how they feel.”

Weekend Chores...And A Birthday

Why is it that an adult birthday means you still have to get your work done?

And maybe make your own cake? (Luckily, this year, the Mama's here to do it.)

And you see a few more wrinkles and gray hairs in the mirror?

And your little brother sends a card to "The Old Lady?"

But the Brick gave me breakfast in bed, and a loving kiss. Now that's a birthday present worth savoring. Trent at the Simple Dollar is right -- it's those small moments that make life worth living.

Lots of jobs to finish off --

*Mint to cut and dry for the chickies, as a supplement. Yes, we have that much mint; so far, I've filled a large garbage can with the stuff. The mint has taken over a good half of the large flower bed by the house, applied for its own city designation, and is beginning to Have Designs against the cowering rose bushes. (Who can blame them.)

*The chicken coop to clean out and re-stuff with straw.( I've got to fill a second garbage can with feed, too...otherwise, the mice help themselves.)

No eggs yet...darn it.

A beautiful fall day, though, makes chores almost a pleasure to do.

Hope your weekend's peaceful, too.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Mama...and Fall Foods

    It's been an interesting few weeks. 

Now that we've been home for a few days, life has settled into a groove...and an easy one, at that. We were used to getting up and trudging out to the chicken coop to let the girls out. But by the time we get up, the Mama has opened the coop door, fed and watered the chickens, and fed the dogs, as well!

Oh, the advantages of having a relative who lives in a time zone two hours later than yours. (The Mama's home is Michigan; we, of course, live in Colorado.)

She house-sat while we were in Washington. Now we're back, she's started mothering us, along with the animals -- dishes washed, floors swept, cookies made and lots of pesky little chores accomplished for Brickworks. Whoa -- I could get used to this!

But alas, it ends soon. She's headed home early next week. Charley & Abby will miss her. (I'm not sure about the chickie girls -- they look so wild-eyed that it's hard to say what they're up to.) We will miss her. But her other kid and grandchildren need her, too.

* * * * * * * *

The weather is definitely starting to cool, although the trees are a bit slow to change yet. Fall -- what a wonderful time of year.

You might enjoy my articles at Penny Thots about two favorites of the season:

An Apple A Day Keeps the Fall in Play (plus all the reasons that you should buy, eat and store apples)

And a love song to that spiciest of flirtations: the green chili. The scent of green chilies roasting is one of the West's first hints that Fall is on its way.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Giving the Rose Bowl A Whole New Meaning

This is a new one...'College Rose' bouquets designed for the collegiate sports-lover in you!

FTD's come out with bi-colored rose bouquets celebrating 51 different universities, from 'Bama (red and white, naturally)

 to the University of Florida

(University of Miami's got an even more intriguing mix)

 to Notre Dame's Fighting Irish.

All in appropriate colors, of course. They're shipped with matching etched glass vases  in "collegiate gift boxes" (whatever the heck that is).
    This may be the perfect present for that college football-loving friend. You know, the one that's hard to buy for.
    Go here for photos of all bouquets, plus ordering information

The University of Michigan version...go blue!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Homebody Edition

After hours spent narrowly missing an auto accident, getting late to the terminal, and making it to the gate just in time to catch the last call...
    Well, it's nice to be home. 
The air's cooler, and the trees are starting to change around here. I love fall. 

While I'm trying to figure out which end's up, here are some goodies dug out from the Internet:

Financial lessons learned from Clark Griswold...thanks to Frugal Confessions. Clark may be a silly man -- but he's not an idiot.

 Want a way to record your tapes, records and eight-tracks to CD?
You can do it for free now, thanks to Audacity software, if you've got a microphone attached to your computer. The results are pretty good, too. Go take a look.

Was the ambassador to Libya's assassination preplanned? This is imbedded in an article about whether Jay Christopher Stevens was gay --  who cares. But this is unnerving:
    A report published by the Independent of London Sept. 14 indicated Stevens’ death resulted from “a serious and continuing security breach.” The U.S. State Department had credible information 48 hours before mobs charged the consulate in Benghazi that the American mission to Libya had been targeted to be hit in a planned attack.
The Independent further reported that Stevens had only recently returned to Libya after a visit to Germany, Austria and Sweden. But no warnings were given for him to go on high alert and “lockdown” restricting movements.
On Sunday, Libya President Mohamed Yousef El-Magariaf told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that the attack on the U.S. Consulate f in Benghazi was “preplanned,” contradicting directly U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice’s insistence on the Sunday morning talk shows that the attack was a spontaneous reaction to an Internet-posted video offensive to Islam.
CNN also published a report Sunday indicating three days before the fatal attack, a local security official met with American diplomats in the city and warned them about deteriorating security.
What has been established is that the U.S. State Department under the direction of Hillary Clinton had provided only minimal security for Stevens trip to Beghazi...

Blaming Stevens' and other deaths, as well as the embassy attacks, on a film that was out literally for months, seems more than a tad disingenuous. And if Libya's own president is saying it was a convenient excuse...well...

Thinking about getting a pellet stove? Jen @ Frugal Upstate compares how much it would cost vs conventional wood, including your time and energy. An excellent, sensible comparison.

Remember the finding of the S.S. Central America shipwreck? This ship has yielded an incredible outpouring of gold, including ingots and rare coins. Other coinage and goodies, too.
    Only there's one problem: the shipwreck's salvagor, Tommy Thompson, hasn't paid his investors since 2000. Oops.
    His lawyers say that he's intending to pay them eventually. Ooh, that's comforting. The trial started back on June 27, but it seems to still be going. That means in spite of the flood of gold recovered, the investors haven't seen one red cent. And the gold itself is strangely missing. (Oh well. Guess the investors can buy a coin off the website.)

A really easy hamburger vegetable soup recipe. Great for chilly days. Some easy chewy no-bake granola bars, too. (Think Rice Krispie treats that are actually good for you.) These, from Money-Saving Mom.

And one of the funniest commercials I've seen in a while -- Jetta's "Bad Dog, Good Volkswagen:"

The Broncos are playing. (Ok -- maybe the Broncos are losing, too.) Chicken wings, a warm fudge sundae, and good friends. (Lots of yelling, too. The Broncos might win!)
     Life's sweet.

P.S. They lost - 21-27 - to Atlanta. "A little sloppy, but exciting!" said the announcer.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Fall-ing in Leafy Love with Washington

 Colorado got its first snow while we were gone! Winter Park got a did Pike's Peak. (Too soon, too soon.)

I wish I could say that these past few days have been a quiet, relaxing time. Well, they have been -- sort of. Bro Jon and we went out to lunch a lot...and a Thai restaurant for supper. We've spent a lot of time talking, especially about stocks, options and such. (He enjoys trading.)

We've done some driving out in the Washington countryside. They have crisp, vivid reds out here -- something we don't often get back home.

 Yeah, like this.

That part's been wonderful. If it hadn't been for some online discussions I had to get involved with, life would be pretty peaceful. 
   Ah well.

We pack and head out tomorrow morning. A quick stop in Lynden for church, then maybe clam chowder at a seafood restaurant before we drop the rental car off at Sea-Tac. And head home. To the Mama, the chicks (who still have not produced eggs yet!), and the dogs.

   It's time.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Baking...Right From the Freezer!

Want crunchy cookies at the drop of a hat? Bake them straight out of the freezer!

It's very simple: mix your dough, then drop balls or scoops of dough on a cookie sheet, taking care not to let them touch. Let freeze. Pop the balls off the sheet and put them in a plastic bag back in the freezer. That's it!

When you're ready for a warm cookie or two, put the frozen balls on a cookie and bake like normal. The cookies may take a few minutes longer, but they'll set up beautifully. (In our high altitude, this method actually keeps them from spreading too much.) Serve and enjoy.

Here's a good recipe for lemon-pomegranate cookies, thanks to Make-Ahead Meals. But it's also a pictorial walk-through of the freezer method.

* * * * * * * * *

Just finished up at Quilter's Anonymous in Lynnwood, WA. (Thanks, girls -- I had a great time!) Now staying at Jon &Judi's house, our brother and sister-in-law, in Bellingham. The fall colors are beginning to show lovely streaks of red and orange, and there's a pleasant crisp in the air. We'll have a few days with J&J before heading back home Sunday night.

What a relaxing time.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday Stuff on the Way to Other Stuff: The Travel Edition

I haven't done much wandering around the Internet this week, between packing and getting ready for The Mama's visit. She's house-sitting the dogs and chickies while we're in Washington.
     I did find a few goodies, though: 

What it's like to be poor, by John Scalzi. Straight to the heart, and thoughtful. (A little sad, too.)

Palette and scrap wood furniture -- made easy. (Thanks, Merrill & Her List Making Life.) A few posts back, she's got a crazy-quilt painted chicken coop... take a look!

At first glance, this is just a colored strip -- click on it, and you'll find a whole raft of unusual how-to tips superimposed on photos. (Example: use the hollow handle of a dustpan to transfer sink faucet water to a bucket...easily!)

Virginia Avery, a quilt legend, passed away -- she would have been 100 years old the end of this month. (She was on The Quilt Show in 2007 -- see more about her here.) She was an amazing person with the energy of a much younger woman. If you have a quilted vest or jacket in your closet, she had an influence on you -- quilted, pieced and painted wearables, especially, were heavily in her debt.

one of Ginny's books...

Good news and bad on the job front -- a post from yours truly over at Mid-Life Finance.

A plea from a mom to her third-grade son, to have compassion for the kids who need his kindness. See if you don't get a lump in your throat on this one.

We don't make much sense to the feline population -- we do such foolish things!

And in honor of our jaunt into Canada, an ode to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers:

Have a great week. 

P.S. "Lynaeve" (Maria Eads), you've won the Jennifer Sampou baby book! Congratulations!

We'll post the next book giveaway soon --

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Kickin' It in Canada

Back and forth, back and forth.

Flew into Sea-Tac, then drove north to Abbotsford to our hotel. Stayed overnight, then drove back over the border to go to church in Lynden. (And see our cousin the minister at Mt. View Christian Reformed Church.) After dinner, we drove back over the border -- and promptly got stopped, no doubt for making so many trips across in just a few days.

No matter -- it's been a relaxing time. The countryside is lovely around here -- fields of corn and vineyards surrounded by a ring of mountains. Yesterday, Mt. Baker reared her snowy head; today, she snoozed under a gray blanket of cloud. The air cooled, and this area got its best rain in nearly two months.

Tomorrow we sleep in, then head to Lynnwood for the teaching gig. If you're anywhere in the area, come on over to Quilters Anonymous and say hi!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Getting Ready

Just a few days, and I'm on my way to teach for the Quilters Anonymous guild in Lynnwood, WA. (Near Seattle, in case you're wondering.) Before then, I have to put yet More Stuff away, vacuum up a tribe of dust bunnies, pick the Mama up from the airport (she's house-sitting the dogs and chickens), finish off the kits, water the garden...
    and come up for air.

Ten days of clothes in a carryon? This slide show from the New York Times will help you do it. (Key word here is rolling, versus folding.)
    I've used plastic bags, as well. Fill them with jewelry (or brass charms, as the case may be.) Push out the air and stack in the bottom. Put softer items on top as a cushion. Warning: bag your toothpaste, baby powder and anything else that might spray or squeeze out! When I fly out from Denver, I often go from 5280 ft. altitude to 200 or so. Pressure does weird things to toiletries -- that's all I can say. (Don't ask.)

At least it's cooler, and the wind's blowing. Fall is slowly creeping in, leaf by leaf.

P.S. Are you close by Lynnwood? The lectures - and class - are on Crazy quilts. Go to the site above, or click here for specifics on next week's gig. I'd love to see you.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Homemade Touch

 "HOME-made." I remember that comment, stretched-out and emphasized. "Store-bought" was a rarity in my kidhood days, living on a farm and with little money. We made our own bread, grew our veggies, and my mom stitched our clothes. To have something straight From the Store was something special -- a privilege.
      Until, as I got older, I realized something.
      The fancy cakes looked beautiful -- and tasted like sawdust. (To this day, I still don't like that thick, crunchy, oily frosting. Bleah.) My storebought shirt's buttonholes stretched out of shape faster than the Mama's work, and the thin fabric ripped and stained more easily. Those flawless peaches went from green to rotten in just a few days.
      Store-bought didn't necessarily mean "best" at all.

Nowadays, "homemade" doesn't contain the implied sneer it used to. We revert to store-purchased items because it's quicker and more convenient. If you've got work to get done at night, plus homework and baths to supervise, it may be the only choice.
     Or is it?

Brownies take only 15 minutes to mix -- far less than stopping at the store, then standing in line to check out. An easy cake is just as fast, especially if you don't frost it. (If you do, decorate with fresh fruit, like the example below -- or fresh flowers. A fancy look, for less effort.)
     It helps, too, if you:

*Cook or bake double. Make twice as much soup in the crockpot, or double the cookies. Ingredient-wise, it's just as simple. Freeze the extra -- or give it to a neighbor or friend who needs cheering up. Pull out the bag of cookies some night, when it's wet and drizzly -- you'll be well-paid for your effort.

*Have something in the freezer. Make it even easier on yourself -- freeze muffin batter directly in the paper muffin cups, then put the frozen 'muffins' directly in the muffin pan to bake. (They bake just as well -- only a few minutes extra.) Or freeze scoops of cookie dough; bake a few at a time, or a whole sheet-full as needed.

*Keep basic ingredients on hand at all times for at least three or four basic desserts your family -- or you! -- really like. A few soups. A couple of casseroles. Memorize these recipes, so you don't have to look them up every time you cook.

*Are there ingredients that you really like -- and use often? Keep them around, and you'll be more likely to cook, as well.

Even if your life is hectic, the smell of bread baking may be just the calm you need to relax. (Not to mention punching the heck out of the dough!)
      "Homemade" keeps your costs down -- and quality up. You choose the ingredients...including adding favorites! It lets you know exactly what you're eating...or wearing. It gives a sense of pride to be wearing socks you knit for yourself -- or see your friend sporting a scarf on a chilly day. "Homemade" is a quiet way to say:
       "I care."

ooh about a homemade cake decorated with grapes, apricots or oranges?

A cake made by yourself says "I care."

Monday, September 3, 2012

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff -- Laboring, I Guess

It's vacation, right? So why did we just spend the day working? I painted the trim on the chicken coop (still no eggs, but we're getting close), and repainted the garage doors (again), thanks to hail damage. 
     Picked beans. And basil. Made pesto, and froze it for those coming-up-soon chilly days. 
    Washed clothes. Picked up. Did some biz stuff. 
    At least we slept in this morning, and had a nice leisurely breakfast. 

Stuff noticed while trolling around the Internet this week:
 And you thought you worked hard! Ron Akana will retire Sept. 8 from his work as an airline steward -- after 63 years. "I know I'll miss it, but the time has come. Aching bones and joints," he says. (Guess so, considering he's 84.)

A lion cuddles up to his human buddy. I don't know whether to be thrilled or terrified. (Except the lion acts a little like our dog Charley...)
      This lion video always gives me a lump in the throat...a lion reunites with the guys who raised him from a cub.

A boy finds a waxy yellow 'rock' on the seashore. Turns out it's ambergris, worth more than $30,000! (Ambergris is a vital ingredient in perfume and other products -- and extremely rare. Why? Because basically it's whale vomit, hardened up.)

25 ways to give...and not just money, either. (Thanks, Donna Freedman and Get Rich Slowly.) One of the charities mentioned caught my eye: Christmas At Sea, offered by the Seaman's Church Institute. You can donate knitted or crocheted hats, scarfs and other items for merchant mariners at Christmastime. Patterns are even provided.

A very strange way to see Leo deCaprio over...and over...and over...

50 People you wish you knew.

Remember my connecting about Zeek Rewards going down in flames? Well, the 'Empower Alliance' is trying to grab disgruntled Zeek customers in the sneakiest way advertising their system as the place to invest in now. Don't fall for it!
     By the way, the count is now up to TWO MILLION PEOPLE bilked by Zeek's Ponzi scheme. Sickening. And the receiver currently in charge says "it's going to be a long time" before people see any money. 

A whole series on Extreme Frugality...from Gourmet Magazine. (All sorts of subjects, from zero-spending to bartering. The guy's got a thing for chickens I can relate to, as well..)

Eating well in lean times. Happy at Home's got some good ideas here...and not just on food, either. My latest post for Mid-Life Finance, on squirreling away food for the winter (like pesto!),  may be of help, too.

Animals and people hugging each other....awww. It takes all kinds.

Don't forget -- get your vote in on the latest giveaway. It's wonderful book on baby-related projects by Jennifer Sampou. And it ends soon. 

Have a great week. 


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Happy Labor Day!

There are always jobs to be done...but take some time to relax, too.

After all, Fall's coming...