Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Other People are Doing It, Doing It...

Living Below the Line, that is.

Here's a list of the bloggers I've found, so far:

Our New Life in the Country. (5 pounds, instead of $7.50? That's more than we Yanks have to work with.)

Tight-Fisted Miser. (Andy's going the pork 'n beans-with-hot-dogs route. Wish we could get cans of p&b for 29 cents.)

Seeking the Balance. ('Porridge' - that's oatmeal, right?)

A Girl Called Jack. 

The Reluctant Critic.

 The Food Project. 

Some editors at Huffington Post.

(Or at least commenting on it -- naysayers like Frantic Planet included.) 

You're probably noticing the same pattern I did -- nearly all of the bloggers I could find doing the challenge were Brits! Maybe it's more popular in England -- or my Swagbucks search button is biased toward the British Isles. (Darn those Yankee upstarts, anyway.)
     I did notice several Americans - mostly celebrities - posting related videos on Youtube. Maybe we Americans speak, more than we write?

Meanwhile, the challenge goes on. Day Two was tough - I am realizing how much I enjoy (and miss) lots of protein. But the fried rice came out nicely, with the addition of some spicy "nuoc mam pha san" spring roll sauce. Skipped some of the allotted onion, so I could add a little cabbage, instead. Good decision - a little more filling. 
     We also found some free baguettes at the local thrift shop - one of those, lightly sprinkled with the cheese I would have had on a tortilla, was tasty. 

In Between the Serious Stuff...

Witness Bizkit, the sleepwalking dog. (Hope he got whatever he was chasing!)

Plus a romp between dogs and fox cub:

We have a local Mr. Fox who stops by regularly to check on the chickies. Our neighbor has often seen him staring in through the chainlink fence. (Probably concocting recipes for chicken Marengo or some such.) 
    Fortunately Charley the dog and wooden coops that shut up tight at night, not to mention the 6' sturdy fence, have been a deterrent.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Living Below the Line - Making Progress

I'm continuing on with Living Below the Line. 

Five days - spend only $1.50 (or less) a day on food. 

If you're thinking, 'Hey, this is quite similar to the occasional 'Live on Food Stamps' challenge, you're right. But this one reflects more of the average world inhabitant, rather than the U.S. citizen. (The food stamp challenge gives you $7 daily for one, $12 for two -- more, quite frankly, than the Brick and I spend on our average budget for food. Those poor, malnourished welfare recipients...)

Am I being rude here? Yup. But honestly, I do believe that what's needed in this area is more education, rather than more money. That, and a resolve to eat and cook better -- not complain, because you can't just buy whatever you want, whenever you want. (Or refuse to cook altogether.) Our ancestors lived on far fewer 'luxuries' than we do. We could do it, too.

Speech done. Back to the meals:

Breakfast:   a fried egg and two 'cheese guys,' with a splash of salsa. (I've been clearing out our leftover Taco Bell packets.)

Lunch:  a bowl of beans, sprinkled lightly with cheese. A handful of baby carrots alongside. (They were on sale this week - goody.)

Supper:  Bean burrito, augmented with rice and red peppers. A couple of nights, we'll be having fried rice instead, with chopped veggies and an egg stirred in. (A refiguring of how much coffee we were actually using made me realize that we could also afford a teabag for the nightly cup. No cookies to go with it, though...ah well.)

Good, basic fare. A little boring...but honestly, with this week's deadlines, I appreciate being able to repeat some dishes. Besides, it's only for less than a week.

One unexpected side effect: I am having some trouble mentally assimilating the celebrities' take on this issue -- especially when they're wearing fancy makeup and expensive clothes, and being taped by professional cameramen. Couldn't some of the money expended on all those visuals be put where their mouth is? I don't doubt their sincerity -- I do wonder how much they're really sacrificing to help out.

     'Wait a minute,' inner self says. 'Who are you to point the finger - are you sacrificing?' We don't give as much as I wish we could -- but we do donate at least 10% of our income. We support a Brazilian 'son' through Compassion International, give to the Mennonite Central Committee (very involved with world hunger, and nearly zip of your donation goes to office expenses), and support others. Could we do more? Always. But we're doing something.

     Maybe we need to do more.

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Working Hard and Eating Less

First day, first meal of the Live Below the Line challenge: a fried egg and two 'cheese guys.' (Two corn tortillas, sprinkled with mozzarella and heated til crunchy. Try it -- they're good!) 
     The Brick looked at his plate. "How come I only have one egg?"
 I said, "Remember - we were going to do the challenge? A lot of people would be happy to have an egg- period." [Not to mention a free-range, fresh one.] When that didn't work, I offered, "Hey, Ben Affleck's doing it, too."
     He looked skeptical. "No cheating?"
     Ben Affleck, wherever you are...please don't fudge. 

I'll be documenting my adventures in this area the rest of the week. I'm going to stick to it -- but the Brick may do his own fudging, and clean up some of the leftovers in the fridge, as well. Which I don't mind -- I HATE to waste food, even for a good cause. 

What do you really owe your parents as an adult, when they've been abusive to you all through childhood? 'Ask Prudie' from Slate Magazine handles this with surprising honesty, and points out that the answer is not necessarily 'ask them back into your life.' (Having some experience with this, I think she's right. )

Cleverly Inspired's got a versatile DIY art cart that would come in handy for all sorts of storage. (I can visualize a cutting mat on top of this, too.)

The wonderful benefits of outrageous optimism. Having endured multiple speeches on How the World Will End, thanks to gun control, the stock market and God knows what else...I found this refreshing. (Thanks for the pep talk, Mr. Money Mustache.)

 Decorating your own out-of-date shoes? Why not, when they turn out this cute. Flamingo Toes shows you how. (Little girls would especially benefit...not so sure about adults, unless you're the flamboyant or cutesy type.) 

A close-up look at a 19th century shipwreck, discovered off the Gulf of Mexico. (Go to the slideshow.)

Animals acting like people -- it's called anthropomorphism, and was a favorite of the Victorians. This slideshow has 22 vintage photos of same. (Got into this some because of William Wegman, and our own beloved Weimaraners.)

And speaking of photos, one of the zaniest I've ever seen. Gives a whole new meaning to the idea of "overflying." And based on the photographer's text, it wasn't Photoshopped!

If you're doing a good job at work, blow your own horn! Five Cent Nickel's reminder to shy and reserved workers.

  Freaking out your loved ones, by 'arguing' for money at the grocery store. Tales from the Trenches, you're not the only one -- I did this once over a 50-cent coupon. Daughter #1 informed me she was embarrassed to death.

A new reality show's coming to television this year: Vanilla Ice Goes Amish. (I really wish I were making this up.) 

 How to make a 'living wall' from a crappy fence, courtesy of The Felted Fox.

Financial lessons learned from an 80-year-old grandfather, shared by Student Debt Survivor.

And for our musical feature, Peter the elephant adds his own piano 'accompaniment:'
(In case you're wondering, that's Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag -- one of the Brick's favorites. Obviously, Peter's, too.)

Have a good week.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Living Below the Line - Here We Go

I started planning for the upcoming Living Below the Line challenge..and talked the Brick into joining me. That means $7.50 each for the five-day experiment, for $15.00 total. Here's how it pans out:

2 pounds rice                                                                1.58
1 small package tortillas                                                .99
1 pound grated mozzarella/parmesan cheese               2.00
1 1/2 pounds pinto beans                                              1.19
1 gallon milk                                                                 1.97
1 stick margarine                                                            .25
1/2 pound coffee                                                          3.50*
1 pound carrots                                                              .79
1 red pepper                                                                   .25
1 pound onions                                                              .59
1 dozen eggs                                                                1.50

*A recheck of coffee costs squeezed out enough to have a nightly cup of tea, as well. My PG tea bags work out to approx. 5-10 cents each. (The Brick finds all this haggling and figuring very amusing.)

Figure the extra covers tax (although food is not taxed here in Colorado), and we come out close to even. We'll probably use a little salsa, which will stretch the cost, too.

    I lucked out - found the cheese, red pepper, rice and beans and noticed the eggs at my favorite grocery salvage place: The Friday/Saturday store in Arvada. This place is only open two days a week, but has an amazing array of mispriced/didn't sell/overstocked items, including fresh and frozen. We've often found upscale and unusual things there, as well. Starbucks coffee (12 oz.) was advertised at $4.99 the last time I was there, and Greek sheep's 'grilling' cheese was $2.00 for an 8 oz. package. If you're near a bigger city, a grocery salvage store should be within reach. I only wish we had access to some of the discount grocery stores around here, like Aldi's. (We do have a Grocery Warehouse, but it's far away, and quality is uneven.)
    The milk was on sale at King Soopers. We use it for coffee, and I drink a fair amount daily. (A good calcium source for keeping your bones strong, and helps temper your appetite, as well.)
     Speaking of coffee, that's a big bite out of this week's budget -- but the Brick and I do love a cup of morning java, especially Boyer's Rocky Mountain Thunder. I think the extra price will be worth it.
     One note: I won't be buying eggs. The girls are starting to rev up production, thanks to the increasing sun and warmth. Frankly, although the eggs at the store were organic for that price (an excellent one, for the Denver area), our home-clucked eggs are much better.

It's tight, all right -- no room for desserts or meat. I do think, though, that if I had this amount for a month, I could manage to squeeze in more. I actually lived on close to this amount when a college student. You have to look for sales, and watch your money like a hawk -- but it can be done. (More on this in future posts.)
     Here we go --

Friday, April 26, 2013

Living Below the Line - Won't You Join, Too?

Ever heard of this cause?

For the next week, people will be living on $1.50 daily for food -- for five days.

The Global Poverty Network is sponsoring this as a wake-up call...
    many people live on this (or less).
    we can help raise money to help them.

Others are joining in. (I am, too -- I'll be documenting progress next week.) Why don't you?

Go here for more.  

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Kellogg's Chocolate Frosted Flakes: A Review

Sometimes I'm sent products to try out, for work as a BzzAgent.

This week, I got a few boxes of Kellogg's Chocolate Frosted Flakes. If you're doing the Spanish thing, you'll know them better as Choco Zucaritas.

My dad ate cornflakes nearly every morning of his life. That makes me very familiar with this icon of American-ness. But I rarely ate them myself.

This morning, had a bowl of  Choco Zucaritas, with a good-sized shot of leche...

     muy bueno!

Crunchy, chocolatey...but not too sweet. (I liked that.) The crunch held, too, through the entire bowl. (The regular cornflakes had a habit of getting soggy before the finish -- but not these.) 

The Mama enjoys making 'cherry winks' for Christmas -- crunchy cookies rolled in cornflakes and topped with a maraschino cherry. I can see these done with chocolate frosted flakes instead, and topped with a chocolate kiss. Yum...

    So do these pass the test? You bet. Kids will be especially thrilled.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

31 People Who Married Their First Cousins...And More

...plus a really strange connection with tuberculosis.

Did you like that?! It's quick, thanks to Mental Floss editor John Green. Now try his '50 Misconceptions,' on everything from Einstein failing math (he didn't) to blondes and redheads going extinct. (They aren't.)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Strange Treasure Story

I am constantly amazed by the odd things that happen in this strange world. 

Take the case of Jay Miscovich, a diver who met a drifter in a Key West bar. The man, who worked for Jay now and then, just happened to have an odd brown-glazed piece of pottery he'd found while diving with friends, plus a map marked 'pirate wreck' for sale.
    Jay pays him $500. After some checking -- and diving trips at the site where he finds nary a trace of gold or silver -- Jay, along with his business partner and fellow diver Steve Elchlepp, stumbles onto more than 150 pounds of Columbian emeralds scattered across the ocean floor, painstakingly sieved out of the sand during more than 70 trips.

    Josh Lentz, an expert with the Gemological Appraisal Laboratory, examines the emeralds. "He started pulling these specimens out one by one," the expert recalls. "Before I knew it, my entire desk was fully covered by these green rough emeralds. It took me a little while to actually realize what was in front of me." Deep green chunks, sprinkled with pyrite which make them even more rare. Lents isn't sure any comparable specimens even exist in the world. They could be worth tens of thousands, millions... priceless.
    A new multi-million dollar treasure discovered. Hooray for Jay...right?

Not so fast.

Jay and Steve are running out of money. They bring in investors. Those same 'moneyman' are trying to hog the profits, according to Jay and Steve. The investors counter that the two divers are actually hiding emeralds, so they don't have to share. A lawsuit ensues, making the emeralds' existence public knowledge. Finally, it's settled. Now Jay and Steve's company, JTR Enterprises, can file an Admiralty salvage claim for the stones.

Members of Mel Fisher's treasure-hunting family promptly file suit. 
According to them, these emeralds are actually loot from the fabulous Atocha -- a galleon wreck they've been excavating for decades, and have the salvage rights to. After all, they haven't yet found a 70-pound keg of emeralds that they claim was on the ship. (Although emeralds have been discovered on their site, including a fabulous emerald ring.) These must be the same stones -- so the emeralds belong to them.

Did I happen to mention that Jay's find is thirty miles away from the Atocha site? (Fisher's family says distance is irrelevent...the Atocha must have sprayed treasure across the ocean floor as it gradually broke apart.) Experts testify that the direction is wrong for that to have happened.

When that theory isn't working, the Fisher family then alleges that Jay and Steve stole the emeralds from the Atocha site, along with one of their divers. 

To make things even more interesting, a Sixty Minutes crew films the story, then sends some of the emeralds to Europe for analysis. The results of that test suggest that the stones may possibly have been treated with a modern epoxy. Jay and Steve don't know what to think -- other than sticking to their original story.

Another expert examines the stones at the hearing - and concludes they don't come from the Atocha at all. In fact, he doesn't think they've been underwater for more than a few months. And as far as millions go, he values the entire batch as less than $50,000. "In all my 56 years in the emerald business, I have not seen emeralds of such poor quality as the rough alluvial emerald beryl material present," the jeweler writes.

The Fishers finally drop their claim to salvage -- but then switch gears again, and claim Jay and Steve are a couple of con men who 'salted' the emeralds on-site! A sanctions hearing is scheduled for this summer; if the Fishers' claims are upheld, then Jay and Steve could be forced to pay their attorney fees.

The results of Jay and Steve's Admiralty claim? Because they found no shipwreck on the emerald site, "There is just as much support for the theory that Jay and Steve planted the stones as there is for the assertion that they found them," King [the judge] stated. "The Court cannot simply accept the un-contradicted testimony of Jay and Steve that they followed a treasure map to the site, dove the floor, and found the emeralds."

JTR Enterprises doesn't win salvage rights. (Neither do the Fishers, for that matter.) Now that testing's finished, Jay isn't sure what to think. Maybe the emeralds are truly from conquistador days. (The testing results were somewhat uncertain.) Maybe they're WWII vintage, instead. Or maybe they're modern profits from drug runners, dumped overboard by plan or accident.
    Josh Lentz, who has spent many hours over three years analyzing the stones, continues to insist that they're worth millions of dollars. Meanwhile, the Fishers have told their side of the story to just about every treasure bulletin and discussion board they can find. Who are these upstarts that think they can just go to an X on the map, and find treasure, just like that?

Sour grapes, on the Fishers' part?
 Or have Jay Miscovich and Steve Echlepp lied about everything from the beginning?

Jay and Steve have stashed their emeralds and refuse to dive for more, reasoning that they'll probably be followed."The site is still unprotected," Miscovich says, "and I know there's still a fortune of emeralds out there. What if someone else goes out there and files a claim on the site?"

Meanwhile, both sides' lawyers get ready for this summer's sanctions hearing. The "incidents and accidents, hints and allegations" continue. (Thanks, Paul Simon.)

Read the full story here. Amazing.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Wishing for Spring

Yes, I know spring is supposed to be here. But it's snowing again...how can I get spinach and peas in the ground if I can't keep the snow off long enough to dig? Meanwhile:

The color of the year: emerald green. Planning on changing your household decor to incorporate it? Southern Hospitality gives some ideas. (This isn't exactly the shade I thought of as 'emerald'...but maybe the new shade is different.)

Top 15 slow-cooker recipes from Food.com. You name it, they're here, just waiting to bubble away on your counter.

Cutting your spending $1000 a month, without too much ache...from Five Cent Nickel.

A copy of the Bay Psalm Book, the first book ever printed in America, is headed for the auction block. Projected value: $30 million dollars. (Yep, you read that right.) I'd be checking used bookstores a lot more carefully, if I lived on the East coast!
Here's what it looks like

Apartment Therapy and the Duke. A graceful short essay on common courtesy...go see.

Six weird Nazi artifacts from WWII...just discovered in recent years. Including a weather station in Canada and a nearly-untouched battlefield. (Seriously.)

The origin of the 'V-for-Victory' salute -- and it ain't good. Courtesy of Len Penzo's Aunt Doris.
Winston Churchill 'salutes' the Deutschers during WWII
(We ran into a similar issue on our Brazilian trip. The 'a-ok' sign, with fingers curved in a circle? Let's put it this way -- if you're not planning on sleeping with the person, you shouldn't be using it. (Substitute the 'thumbs-up' signal, instead.)

Barbara Brackman's blog, Material Culture, is a thought-provoking look at all sorts of quilts new and old. Take Elizabeth Welch's eagle quilt, for example - an interesting discussion on this antique style. (Were this quilt, plus others, influenced by the same quiltmaker...or is it the 'Mary Simon Baltimore Album' complex?) 

30 ways to save a pound. (Or a few bucks.) From Life in the Country.

5 treasures found in the trash...or a garage sale...or...

From the same site (All things mundane), 7 people who had very ironic deaths. 
Including the daredevil who died from...
                   slipping on a banana peel.

Underwater surfers. An amazing slide show. (Cooling too, if you happen to need that sort of thing.)

Maybe I'll go sit under the lamp, margarita in hand, and hope for sunshine. It's bound to happen sometime. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Batik Butik

Sad news received a few days ago...

Batik Butik, the source of those soft-and-buttery rayons I've so enjoyed sewing with in recent months, is closing.

My favorite - this one's got a wonderful gold sheen, with slight purple accents
The company's not officially shut down until its inventory is gone -- which means you've still got a chance to add some of these rayons to your stash. I intend to get some more posthaste.

Go here to see the rayons, and learn more. But don't dawdle.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

More Adventures in Print

Did you enjoy my last post on things you can decorate in print?

And you (like me) are thrilled that Tax Day has once again receded into the past?

One way to stick it to the Man...take those leftover forms and make them into something pretty, like this wreath from Moose Mouse:

Notice the paper rose in the center? A lovely added touch.

Find out how by going here.

Go, Dog, Go!

Got a minute?

Carolyn Scott and her dog Rookie collaborate on a 'Grease' routine that will get you grinning...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Apt Wisdom from the Textile World

For all the quilters (crazy and otherwise) out there...

Color-Changing Tees...and Facing Up to My Limitations

Have you seen these cool t-shirts on Fab.com? 

They change color when you hold your hands against them! 
(I'm assuming they also gradually change back to the original shade after a while. Must be that the heat affects the fibers? Kind of like those cups that change color and pattern with hot liquids.)
$27 on sale, but only for a short time -- you've got 6 days to buy at this price. Then it's back to $36. Find out more here.
Wish they made fabric yardage like this. (A few more cute guys wouldn't hurt, either.)

     Taxes are done, thank God. Paperwork is nearly finished, as well. (Another fervent thanks to the Boss.) I should have the rest of the week to work on overdue projects. After a sleepless night going through all the things I needed to get done -- and all the ways I'd failed -- I decided, come morning, that I would do my best to catch up those things without taking on more.
     If you work on your own, you understand my dilemma. The opportunity you're offered today may not come back in a week. Or a month. Some jobs appear and disappear just as quickly, if you don't grab them. Some, I take because I truly enjoy. (Like teaching, or quilting a patchwork top.) Some, I do because they'll be of help in the future. (Like taping the Quilter's Newsletter Workshop -- which is scheduled for August now!) And some I just...do.
     The Brick, bless him, has had enough job promotions that I don't have to take work anymore, to keep the bills paid. But I still enjoy being independent.
     Knowing what you can do -- and doing it -- is a wonderful feeling.
     I just need to admit that I can't do it all.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Spring Storm

Snow is just beginning to spit; more is coming, from what the clouds are saying. (Daughter #2 said it's already falling heavily around her mountain cabin.) Lucky our taxes are done, though we had to stay up until 1 a.m. to do it. Why does this have to be so complicated?!?
     At least we have a stop at our favorite German (Deutscher) restaurant to look forward to tonight. Unless it's snowing too hard, that is. Meanwhile:

How the Nester and her family got rid of $100,000-plus debt. Five years - $150,000 debt - gone! Plus 6 odd tips that may come in handy. 

Four tips for handling setbacks. Because we all have them, from flat tires to hailstorms. Daily Money Shot's take on all this.

A look at all sorts of bankruptcy facts and figures, complete with cool graphics. (From Budget on the Beach.) I am still not convinced that most people who file  bankruptcy actually need to do so...but interesting, all the same.

The longest marriage in the U.S. has ended. Victoria Wrubel died at 102, after being married to husband Steven since she was 18, and he was 20.
     Eighty-three-plus years. Wow.

The gift of having to work for everything you get -- particularly as a kid. Mr. Money Mustache has a huge point here, one I was trying to emphasize in my post about teenagers and jobs. Try to tell this to a parent who's "helping out" their kids, and it's like speaking in Swahili. But over time, in spite of a few slipups now and then (like paying for a year of college that basically went to waste), the Brick and I are starting to learn our lesson.

A 22-foot wasps' nest found in a room...a joke, right? I wish -- Spanish police discovered it in a house on the island of Tenerife, after neighbors kept complaining.

Remember the Renoir painting found at a flea market a while back? They're still arguing about ownership, which says someone with deep pockets is unhappy. (Go here for the update. I want to yell, "It's not one of his best...forget the lawyers. GET ON WITH IT!")

How to track down unusual items you bumble across -- in photos, Pinterest, wherever. From Apartment Therapy.

The worst 'bad jobs' that are actually good for you. I've had a few of these, including making cotton candy at Wal-Mart's Radio Grill, and scrubbing toilets for a church. Like Financial Samurai, I learned a great deal from both.  Even if sometimes that crappy job meant...

How to deal with a crappy boss. (Yes, this is me, posting for my 'other boss'...who's actually quite nice. From Ready to Quit My Job.com)

Another 'millionaire next door.' And they did it the boring way. (Thanks Five Cent Nickel.)

A tiny place - 420 sq ft of space. Well thought-out, too. Don't miss out on the slide-by-slide tour, then take a look at the owner's site, LifeEdited.com.

Buying furniture on impulse...then trying to make it fit. In this case, a mantel, from Apartment Therapy. (Not that I've ever done this...no, unh-unh...red face)

Are paid diet plans worth it? Yours truly's take on Slimfast, Jenny Craig, Medifast, Nutri-System and Weight Watchers, via Midlife Finance. (What can I say...I've been busy over there.)

Remember the urban legend about giant rats being sold as chihauhaus in Mexico? Well Argentina did a one-up on them: Ferrets, trimmed and marketed as toy poodles. Ew. In keeping with that strange mental picture:

The strangest animal stories of 2012. 

Margaret Thatcher died. The Iron Lady was felled by a stroke. I really admired this strong and opinionated leader, even when I disagreed with her. A huge shame that her mind's death preceded that of her body.

And even though our beloved Michigan lost to those brutes in Louisville, one final last look at a hard-fought NCAA championship game. (And some interesting comments about Trey Burke and our buddy Spike.) Plus some financial comments about professional basketball players - period. From yours truly, via Midlife Finance.

Have a great week, and stop in now and then -- I've got some interesting future tidbits to share with you, once I can stop buzzing around. The adrenaline from finishing taxes is GREAT!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Approaching April 15

The Brick and I are sitting at the dining room table, papers piled high, laptops on, and trying not to growl at each other. Yes, it's tax time once again.

Lordy, how I hate this time of year.

Chickies are fine. Chickens are fine. It's a tad bleary outside, in keeping with the mood.

I hope your taxes are done, and you're relaxing, cup of hot tea in hand, thinking victorious thoughts.

If you're not, perhaps these tax tips will help, as well as the post I wrote about  tax tips -- not only now, but for next year. (It's never too late to start planning.)

As for me,

I would really really like to bite somebody.

So long, extra funds...goodbyeeeee

Friday, April 12, 2013

Global Warming Caused Last Year's Drought?

From today's Associated Press:

"Last year's huge drought was a freak of nature that wasn't caused by man-made global warming a new federal study finds. 
     Scientists say the lack of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico was the main reason for the drought in the nation's midsection."

A report released Thursday by "dozens of scientists from five federal agencies" blames the fact that the jet stream, which normally brings moisture north from the gulf, stayed unusually far north in Canada. (Did they get extra rain in the Klondike, then?)
    They analyzed the drought conditions in six states - Wyoming, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa -- but said that the weather pattern changes actually extended into 2/3 of the U.S. (Full article's here, if you're curious.)

So where did our Denver Post choose to publish this important piece? A prominent page, right? Perhaps the same front pages that the Global-Warming-We're-All-Gonna-Die articles have been splashed across, day after day, month after month...

In the next to last page in the business section. Just before the obituaries.

Go figure.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

**** Happens

Sometimes things happen. 

You always hope that they're unexpected good things, like the eight brilliant scientific discoveries that were actually screwups. Yes, the inventions of the telephone, nylon and mauve dye (and five others) all came about because someone goofed.

In this case, it wasn't so good. 

Somehow a basement door got left open. I don't know if I did it accidentally, or if I just didn't shut the door hard enough.

Anyhow, it stayed open a good share of today (and the last day). While it was snowing. and icy. And blowing. (The blizzard wind could have done it, I guess.) It was so cold last that we brought the baby chicks in from the garage and kept them in the house all last night.

Just before the Brick got home at suppertime, our alarm downstairs was going off -- a hot water heating pipe downstairs froze, thawed and split. Water started gushing out of the seam and across the room. (I have this huge panicky feeling now about flooding, after our disaster a few springs ago.)Thankfully, we got the water stopped and mopped up just before it reached a pile of quilts nearby; a rug got wet, plus a few papers, but that was largely it.

The Brick put a pipe fitting on the split, and screwed it down...gradually the drips diminished and stopped. Results: a dry pipe, dry floors and welcome warmth, upstairs and down. Thank God - and I mean that literally.


The baby chickies are fine, loafing under the heat lamp. The Brick says they should have umbrellas and little lawn chairs. (Plus mai tais, I think.) Abby the dog is fascinated; Charley's response is "Chicks? What chicks?" Meanwhile, life (and towels in the washing machine) continues on.

Maybe more snow is predicted next week, Mr. Snowman -- but your time is coming

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Decorating In Print

Remember the newspapered ceiling I showed you in a past Monday Stuff post?

Don't throw your papers away yet. There's more to try.

This wonderful dresser would be a great way to use vintage papers...or book pages, for that matter. Find out full details here, plus photos.

I love the warm gold-and-cream look of this piece
 More newspaper crafts are here. (Check out the colored bowls especially.)

And some cool stuff via the Nester, who's decorated for a literary party with book and newspaper pages!
Or this one...

Marvelous stuff, especially if you love words. What nicer way to keep them close by.


This link will give you a bit of an idea of what's going on in Colorado today...
    Basically snow snow snow. 

I thought spring was here! Where did it go?
A washtub of plants are biding their time next to the deck door, while Charley the dog toasts his belly in front of the fireplace.

The bone from the Easter ham is seasoning a pot of blackeyed peas for Hoppin' John -- hearty, tasty and very budget-priced. The recipe dates from the slave quarters in Civil War times, and is thought to bring good luck, especially when you serve it around New Year's.  (Clever people, those slaves!)


1 meaty hambone
1 pound blackeyed peas
1/2 chopped red pepper
1 chopped onion
2 tablespoons garlic
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

Add water to cover -- about 6-8 cups. (Add more as needed while cooking.) Let cook in a crockpot on low 8-12 hours, or high 6-8 hours; remove the bone (give it to Charley the dog), chop meat and stir back in. Add salt to taste, and savor over rice.

Ah well... the weather makes it easier to want to stay in and work on taxes. (Sigh.) Now that Michigan lost the college ball championship (not by much, but lost, nonetheless), the world is a little quieter.
     At least it's peaceful.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Go Blue!

    Michigan in the NCAA college basketball Championship game?!? Even they seemed a little surprised. And they're not the only ones...the Denver Post devoted two or three pages to Louisville, and a quick comment on Michigan to 'check the website.' Weird. 
    All I can say of our beloved alma mater... GO BLUE!!! You can do it!
    While we wait with bated breath for the results, here's what's going on elsewhere on the Internet:

Six financial lessons you can learn from basketball players -- a post from yours truly on the other site I write for: Midlife Finance.

101 snacks for guys on the go. (Not to mention women, too.) From Stacey Makes Cents.

Did you know that the Entertainment Book people have filed for bankruptcy? If you've got one, better check that those coupons are still usable...no guarantees. (Thanks for mentioning it, Money Beagle.)

Skip it...and save. Another musing from yours truly, via Penny Thots.

Cleverly Inspired's in love with doors. And ocean views. And tiled floors. Some good inspiration here. (Wonder if I could use leftover skis to make a door like this?)

You shouldn't worry about working -- when President Obama will take care of you. An interesting riff on taking advantage of social programs, by the 'poorest richest friend I know,' says Financial Samurai. Whether or not you agree (and I do with some, and don't with other parts), you still need to read this. (Don't skip the link to the original story, either.)

Speaking of riffs, one of the most amazing guitar runs I've ever heard -- Juke Box Hero by Foreigner.

A big snowstorm's moving in...but the baby chicks are tucked cozily into their bin in the garage, with a heat lamp overhead. (Thank you, Brick -- what a guy.) The big chickies have their heat lamp on, as well. I love a good snooze while the snow is gently falling. 

Now back to the game!!   Go Michigan!!!

Update: Game's over -- 82-76...Louisville. Sigh...No matter. I'm still proud of our team. But at least school's been cancelled already. When your husband works for the school district, that means a day off tomorrow!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Are You Like Your Parents?

     I was paddling through the usual round of blogs when something on Get Rich Slowly caught my eye: a long, involved post on the U.S. current financial status, plus an interesting question:

Do you save more or less than your parents? 

That got me to thinking -- it's not just finances.

Are you at all like your folks? 

     In some ways, the Brick and I are very much like our collective parents. We both grew up on the poor side, although I honestly didn't realize it until high school. Our parents all grew up in very modest circumstances -- much more so than we did.
     We worked as kids. We worked as teenagers. Our parents all worked as kids, mostly on their parents' farms, but also took jobs young. The Brick's parents both graduated from high school, but WWII intervened after that. My parents took different roads: Mom had a year of nursing school and a year of college -- but my dad only graduated from the eighth grade.
     This is far different from our own circumstances: we both have Master's degrees. One girlie took a year of college, then went to a separate school for training as a jewelry appraiser. Our other daughter is a year away from her B.A. in journalism. (I should mention here that both Brother and his wife have Bachelor's degrees -- the Brick's brothers do, as well -- and our combined children either have college or Navy training. Big change from the past.)

We eat quite differently than our parents did. Lots more international-type items. My dad, a meat and potatoes guy, probably would consider pad thai some weird kind of mattress pad. He referred to espresso as "that stinky stuff," and did not care for Chinese food -- period. Even sour cream and cottage cheese were referred to as "spoiled," though he ate plenty of it in various dishes. (Hey, he grew up on a farm - makes sense, if you think about it.)
     The Brick's parents were more adventurous - probably because his dad was stationed at Hiroshima not long after the atom bomb dropped. (If you're getting the feeling that the Brick's parents were a good bit older than mine, you're right. His dad was born in 1919; mine in 1934.) What I do find particularly curious is that now my mom is in her 70s, she's far more willing to try new foods than I ever remember. (Although she still hates sushi. You can't win 'em all.)

Financially, we are very much like our parents -- simply because we have a lot of trouble spending money that we do not have. They did this out of necessity: there was no way to borrow extra, and yet they had to have a place to live. Both sets of parents bought land; one set built a barn, which the family lived in. The other set of parents bought the old farmhouse, then fixed it up.
     Our first home was only in fair shape. We worked on it, then sold it and bought our current home. In each case, we paid a good deal less than the market price. (Although my dad was outraged that we even considered spending more than $70,000 on a home in 1988 -- their farm only cost $10,000! In 1960, that was.)
     They were big on saving -- we could have saved more, but we did, and regularly. That money has gotten us through several tight periods, and is currently helping pay for the upcoming trip to Ireland.
     The Brick's dad had a Navy pension; his stepfather, a much more substantial one from Bell Labs, as well as the Marines. Military blood runs deep in the Brick's family, although my dad and grandpa both served in the Army, as well.)
     They both ended up with paid-off houses...and very modest savings accounts. My dad worked until not long before he died, at his own business. (Any pension disappeared with the farm supply business that my cousins took into bankruptcy.) I would be in similar straits. (Working for yourself means no benefits, unless you pay for them.)
     The Brick, on the other hand, has a comfortable pension coming in from working for the State of Colorado lo these many years. (We also bought some years of service.) Social Security would be nice -- but we could make do without it. Our house has been paid off for years, and no other debts -- though we'll have to buy a car soon.
     Our savings? Way too small...but honestly, on a bus driver's and quilt teacher's salary, it was the best we could do at the time.

So are we like them?  Yes...and no. But yes, in that we believe money is a gift and a responsibility. When we have some, we're supposed to keep our bills paid (which means we can't ring up extras). But we're also to help out others. And we do.
     Both sets of parents would approve of that.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Weekend Rest

Lots to do, including picking up 10 new Black Australorp chicks, shipping some orders and finishing up paperwork. But I'm starting to see the end of the tunnel -- whoo hoo!

Sometimes life feels like this...

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Another Great One Gone...And News

 Pat Campbell died on March 12, after a long hard-fought battle. She had not been in good health for some time.

I greatly admired her work with Jacobean applique. (Yes, she's holding an example of it in the photo.)

Learn more about her here, in Bonnie Browning's elegy. An interesting woman, with great style.
She'll be missed.

 * * * * * * * * * * *
I haven't been posting for a little while...wonder where I went?

I was taping a segment on memory quilts for Quilter's Newsletter's internet channel, "QNNTV.com" with Jodie Davis!
     It was interesting -- taping a show always is -- but slightly surreal. You speak and look into the camera, or at Jodie, the host, as if a huge crowd is listening. (Which they are, figuratively speaking.)  Yet all you can see is a video monitor, two camera guys and the head QN editor, Bill Gardner. The set is nicely done, with a big table and lots of displays. But just past that is cardboard, plywood and some dusty chairs. Weird.
     When I taped for "Simply Quilts," the view was of staffers in down vests -- it was chilly in the studio, in spite of it being in L.A. - drinking coffee and doing kung fu kicks at each other. At least these guys were friendly AND professional. Brian even helped me get my suitcase in the car...a relief. (See below and you'll know why.)
      The only bad part was seeing my quilts and samples through the quilter's eye -- all of a sudden, pinned on the design wall or arranged on the studio desk, I could see every crooked seam and bobble. One of the finished memory quilts had a polka dot binding; I'd struggled to keep a single line of dots moving smoothly around the quilt edge -- and when it hung at the studio, I suddenly realized that I'd distorted the binding badly because of it.
      And now that crooked, wonky binding will be on full view, when the episode's aired. In blazing color.
      Needless to say, that crappy binding is coming OFF, and the quilt will be rebound. Memo to self: do NOT mess with polka dot prints for binding when your time is limited.

Between stitching the samples, finishing up two earlier quilts (tops were done, but they needed to be quilted and bound), and coping with a bum shoulder (fell down the hill by the chickies' coop - slipped in the mud), it's not meant much sleep around here. The night before the taping, I got roughly 45 min.
    The show's 'in the can' now, and it's back to appraising, paperwork, and regular life. I'm grateful to go back on working on other people's quilts (restoring them) for a while.

But it was fun.

First daffodil on April Fool's Day...but these crocus are gearing up

Monday, April 1, 2013

Darn - Ward Churchill's Not Coming Back to Colorado

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied Ward Churchill's appeal.

In case you don't recognize this name, this former University of Colorado professor published an essay shortly after 9/11, saying that people who died at the World Trade Center deserved it. They (un)wittingly supported US actions overseas, which automatically made them "little Eichmanns." (Churchill later said that his comments had been grossly overstated, and he really didn't mean that. Be sure to check out his parting statement below.)

Needless to say, he got a lot of publicity -- which did not please the chancellors at CU too much. They also did some checking into accusations that Churchill's work had plagiarized other sources...as well as fabricating other research. (The whole complicated mess is covered here. He'd also copied a Native American-themed print, reversing and selling it as his own original design.) 
     Churchill, the head of the Ethnic Studies department, did not have the Indian blood he'd claimed to possess -- something he used to justify his affirmative action hire, and eventual tenure. (He later said he'd been initiated as a Cherokee tribal member, so that solved the problem. Unfortunately, it was only an associate membership given to non-bloodline members - and that's since been retracted, on the grounds that Churchill abused it.) Eventually he resigned as chairman, but tried to keep his teaching job. CU's chancellors fired him, instead.

The jury in the subsequent court case initially ruled that Churchill was fired for his incendiary essay, not his plagiarism and false claims. It then awarded him damages: $1.

"What was asked for and what was delivered was justice," Ward Churchill said outside the courtroom. (How a single buck did that was not mentioned, although apparently the University of Colorado ended up paying Churchill's legal bills, as well.)
    I would almost be tempted to think that the Supreme Court released this decision on April 1st on purpose. Except, as the Brick points out, they probably didn't think about it. As Tommy Lee Jones points out in Men in Black, "We in the FBI do not have a sense of humor we're aware of:"

Full story (sort of) is here, along with Churchill's latest comment: 

I retract nothing. What I said has been validated beyond my wildest expectations, to tell you the truth, so let's just say that I rest my case. A lot of people were outraged by my remark, of course, but, to cop a quote from Rick Perry, 'You throw a rock into a pack of dogs, the one who yaps is the one who got hit.' In other words, the people upset were the f***ing Eichmanns. Look in the mirror and own it, guys. You identified yourselves by frothing at the mouth for being called by your right name. See? Perry's good for something, after all.

Yep. He's learned a lot from his experience. Happy April, Fool.