Friday, May 31, 2013

Gunning for Something...

...I'm not sure what. But here I am in Las Vegas, after Day 1 of a four-day class on handling firearms. Handguns, specifically, at the Front Sight gun range about 30 miles away from Vegas. (This was the Brick's Christmas gift to yours truly; he was wanting to take a class here, too.)
    It's definitely been a different world from my usual one -- literally hundreds of people strolling around casually, handguns holstered on one hip, and magazines (bullet-holders, not publications) on the other. We've had a couple of lectures, and most of the day spent on the range, learning how to hold the gun safely while pulling it from the holster; how to load and reload quickly; and firing at targets from 3, 5 and 7 meters away, first 'dry' (no bullets), then magazine loaded.
    The instructors have gone far out of their way to emphasize safety and careful use -- something that's very encouraging, especially when they're dealing with a huge bunch of people. (Forty in our range alone, done in two 'relays' of shooters/coaches.)
     I'm stronger than I thought, loading and 'racking,' but the sun's been no joke. It was 96 degrees when we left the gun range at 6 p.m., and I'm certain it went 10 or so degrees above that during the day. We were also guzzling water like crazy, and spending as much time in the shade as we could.
     Tomorrow is dealing with 'malfunctions,' 'head shots,' and more shooting. Some lectures, too.
      I just wish we could get away from that sun.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Fifty Common Misquotations

Another offering from the Mental Floss folks -- 
    see if there's something you assumed was correct!

Quilt.con - What's All This About?

Take a look at this short about the Modern Quilt Guild. This conference was recently held in Austin, TX. 
     Interesting...larger-scale, cleaner looks for these quilts, don't you think?

Winning quilts from this conference are here. Enjoy.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Memorial Day -- And Fenceposts

Monday laziness...except we have 9 fenceposts for the chicken yard that need to be anchored with concrete. The 3-foot-deep holes are already dug -- a miracle, in this dry rocky area. (Lesson learned: don't kill your back - hire a teenager. Thanks, Jake.) Each post will take five 60-pound bags of concrete, mixed with water in the wheelbarrow and poured into the hole. Yep, you're reading that right: 300 pounds of wet, sloppy concrete -- and we have to do it nine times. Oh goody. 
     While we're shoveling:

     Don't forget -- this weekend is the time for remembering our armed service members, and the many ways they've sacrificed for us. We can never forget: we owe them too much. 

A surprising conclusion about the 'randomness' of prime numbers -- this breakthrough, along with some other recent discoveries, is changing the world of mathematics big-time. 

The Russian 'space ark' just landed . Some of the creatures lived. (Half the mice, some of the newts.)  Some did not. (The other half of the mice and all the gerbils. Don't take gerbils as a pet if you're transferring to a space station.)
    All of the lizards did just fine. Does this mean that "V" is true??

Don't ignore what you need to deal with! Debt Princess makes this abundantly clear, especially with credit card companies.

Ten Very Weird archeological discoveries. Horned human skulls? Clay dinosaur figures, dating from c.2500 b.c.? Some puzzling stuff on this site, as well as...

Ten people who disappeared for years..and turned up alive. Including a guy who wrote a New York Times bestseller on his experience inside the British Special Forces. (He didn't, but it made for good reading, anyways.)
     One of my college friends had a sister disappear from the law firm where she worked. She'd had dreams of being abducted beforehand, which makes it even stranger. (See the Unsolved Mysteries mention of her case here.) That's apparently just what happened, but no body was ever found, nor was anyone convicted. Cindy Anderson, where are you?

Did you know that the Donald has filed bankruptcy FOUR times? Other penniless celebs are listed in this interesting slideshow.

Maybe Trump just needs to pinch pennies like Warren Buffett. Dozens of tips here based on the Great One's basic habits. 

Speaking of debt, the slow-down effect student debt has had on one generation's plans and spending habits.

Navy dolphins find a rare late 19th century torpedo. Off the coast of Coronado, CA.

Oven-baked tacos. Cheap, easy, fast. (Thanks for sharing, Mommy I'm Hungry. Some other good recipes on this blog, as well.)

A beautiful gold-leaf serving tray, made from a $2 Goodwill buy. How-tos included...thanks, Design OCD.

Doing what you love...or what brings in the money? Making Sense of Cents tussles over the issue.

Forty-three helpful app tools for businesspeople...small and otherwise. Good stuff here - and much of it is free.

Investing in the stock market...scary even in the best of times. Well, yeah, Financial Samurai, but you're bringing out some excellent advice on investing, even while you pooh-pooh it.  And of course:

Scientists think they've isolated the blight that caused much of the suffering during the Irish Potato Famine. They call it HERB 1, and say it's 'probably' extinct -- I call it dangerous.

One interesting way to stop bullying -- with fashion. 

And one of the loveliest voice mixes'll recognize this from O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Have a great week.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Happy Memorial Day

...remembering those who gave of themselves in so many ways, so we could remain free. 

Happy Memorial Day

And to those who've served (including Husband Dave, his father, both Dave's brothers, my dad)...

Thank you.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend Projects

Apartment Therapy just posted 10 'weekend DIYs' that use wood molding. These range from kitchen cabinets to a fascinating mantel makeover (Domaine):

 I enlarged this, so you can see the detail on the mantle. Beautiful.

The bifold closet doors from DIY Design are just spiffy:

These book ledges (from And Then There Was Home) are just what I'm thinking of for the large basement room downstairs:

Instructions are included for each of these projects.

...not that you have anything else to do, right?

* * * * *
 Maybe it's all the racket that prompting this interest for me. We have a full complement banging away at the roof right now. Troy from Pay It Forward Services is our contractor, and has been organizing everything. (He's great, by the way. If you need an honest contractor who will go out of the way to give you the best price, using good materials, he's your man. He takes time to explain things out, too -- not that important for the Brick who, being an engineer, understands most of the layout. But for an English major like me, it's critical.)

 Three guys replacing shingles. Two working on putting in skylights. (Ours were trashed at the same time the June hailstorm took out the roof.) One supervising.
      So far, we've dealt with electrical lines in the wrong place (just repositioned the skylights);  a dumpster too far over for the roofers to throw shingles in it (the company moved it); and the need to re-deck the entire roof before shingling. (Last year, Castle Rock just passed a new code that said roofing boards couldn't be any further apart than 1/8". Needless to say, ours are. An extra $2500 on the final roof price, at the very least. No choice on this, Troy says.)
     Footsteps. Huge somethings sliding off the backside of the roof. (Shingles, I presume. No screaming yet.) Hammering and saws. (Ditto.) The dogs have stopped looking alarmed at every bang or crash, though they jump a bit at the big ones. 
     The chickens are hiding in the furthest corner of the yard. (They come out at lunchtime and check out the guys' equipment. If you need a spy, hire a chicken.) The dogs, especially Abby, are staying close to my feet, occasionally going to peer out the back deck door.
     And I am teaching myself not to wince every time Troy strolls in and announces, "We've got a problem..."

The roof and skylights should be done by Tuesday. (They'll take off for the weekend.) After that: the windows. Oh boy.  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Investing...A Few Coins At A Time

I wrote a post last week on investing in gold and silver for my 'other' boss (Joe at Retire By 40).

Are you interested in increasing your investment portfolio, a little at a time?

Try buying coins. 

The cheapest, of course, is silver. And part of that is the 'melt' price, something you can find at . Precious metals are valued by the ounce...and gold is a heck of a lot higher. Currently, it's running about $1400 an ounce, versus silver, at a much more reasonable $25 or so. 
     Why the big contrast in pricing? Thank Grover Cleveland for that - he put the gold standard into law back in the 19th century. The U.S.'s money was backed by gold, instead of silver -- which meant that silver prices dropped like a rock. The move bankrupted many people, especially out West, who had staked their fortunes on silver, instead of gold. (If you'd like to learn more about this, try my book Quilts of the Golden West. It's got a lot of history about the Gold and Silver Rushes, financial panics and other tidbits about pioneer life. Oh yes, and several quilt patterns. Go here for more. (Mention this blog, and we'll even give you a $5 discount on the price. More bucks to buy coins!)

If you want to invest in gold coins -- the easiest way to do it, since ingots are very heavy -- there are several out there to choose from, including South Africa Krugerrands, Canadian Maple Leafs and U.S. Golden Eagles. These coins weigh an ounce each, and are currently selling for $1400-1700 each. More gold options are here.

The easier way, though, is to consider silver coins -- their price lets you buy a little at a time and balance out any changes in the market. Junk silver  is what you want — half dollars, quarters and dimes minted in or before 1964, when coins were still 90% silver. (The term “junk,” by the way, refers to the coins’ value as a source of bullion. They’re generally not collectible for other reasons.) These cover Kennedy half dollars, Washington quarters and  Mercury and Roosevelt dimes — and, if you’re ok with less silver content (40%, vs 90%), Kennedy half dollars from 1965-70.
     Not only are they more affordable for the average person -- they can also be used as legal tender, if it comes to that. (Gold pieces, on the other hand, will be much more difficult to exchange.) You'll find these coins in rolls and bags on Ebay and elsewhere; prices will vary, especially if you're looking for coins in mint condition. (More silver options here, as well as here.)

     Buying a few coins, even if you only do it every now and then, expands your portfolio and gives you added options. And in the long run, it helps. In the past 30 years, gold and silver prices have gone up and down somewhat, but they've generally gone up -- and stayed there.
      I bought a handful of Morgan silver dollars some years ago for $8 each. They're now in the neighborhood of $37-49 each. Oh, that my other investments were showing a 400% or higher profit!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Three-Minute Trip to Chicago

JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound...ever heard of this group?

They're (JC specifically) from sweet home Chicago. Love that 'big band' sound, especially the trombone.
    Get ready to boogie with his "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart:"

(an interview with JC Brooks here.)

Tornadoes and a Miracle...Moore, Oklahoma

While you're saying a little prayer for Libby Lehman's progress, add one in for Moore, OK.

Dozens of people killed -- incredible damage done in just a few minutes.

And at least one amazing event: a survivor reunited with her dog, on camera. (Watch the full report on her here, if you can - it's just a few minutes longer, and gives you a clearer picture of what it was like for this dear lady.)

and more about the general situation here:


Update: You might enjoy this slide show of rescued animals during tornadoes and hurricanes.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Loving Spring. Or Is It Summer?

Lots of digging in the garden awaits this week. That's not a chore -- I really enjoy the clean smell of fresh dirt, and the hens are thrilled with an earthworm snack now and then. It's a pleasure, knowing the fresh veggies that will soon be coming.
     We seem to have gone straight from spring into early summer, here in Colorado. The trees are suddenly bursting into leaf, when a week ago, they still looked like brown sticks. Sadly, most of our spring blossoms were killed by record-setting low temperatures last month. Our peach trees, for example, won't be producing anything, for the second year in a row. But at least everything looks (sort of) healthy.
    I have a great job this afternoon, scrubbing down the back stairs. I'd planned on ripping up the old carpet and getting rid of it in the dumpster. (Delivered this morning for the roofing guys.) But the task became even more insistent after a Sam's Club-sized bottle of maple syrup fell off a shelf, bumped all the way down, and smashed at the bottom of the stairs. YUCK. 
    It is no fun to smell like maple syrup. Every bear in the county must be mentally checklisting our house for a future visit. Not to mention the ants. 
    While I'm scrubbing (sooo looking forward to it), you really should do something else -- like checking out these goodies from the Internet. 

Dyeing your own sandals. (Wow, these are pretty, R&R Workshop. Easy, too!)

What if your plane went down...and you were the only one who lived? What would it feel like? A new documentary out, "Sole Survivor," follows the lives of several people who had this happen to them.

Did you know that George Clooney's related to Abraham Lincoln? opens up its files on Honest Abe, including several unusual documents and correspondence. (Take a look.)

Our Martyred President- photo from Wikipedia
An easy app to check out current yard and estate sales in your neighborhood. The list starts with Craigslist, but you can add other sites. Not only does the 'Yard Sale Treasure Map' give you locations, but it plots them on a map for simpler driving. How easy can you get!

Free Redbox rentals, whenever you want. (Thanks, Andy at Tight Fisted Miser.)

Some great present-less parties to celebrate a kid's birthday. From Man vs. Debt. (two words: 'potluck' and 'byo.')

Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman have changed some of their favorite tunes.  Basic melody's the same, but there are definitely some new notes and variations. Is it a good change, though? Man vs. Debt also has a very interesting discussion on this.

Zombie debt. Yes I Am Cheap's approach to this subject.

What Wayne Brady has to say about Bill Maher's pronouncement of him (Brady) not really being black. In a silly way, this is amusing -- if you're not Wayne Brady, or someone else who takes pride in their culture. Maybe Maher's counting on that. (Not to mention the extra publicity for acting like the class idiot.)

And yours truly's posts elsewhere --

Investing in Gold and Silver (Retire by 40)
Five Ways to Hedge Your Bets -- financial and family ones, that is. (Midlife Finance)

And life goes on. Have a good week.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sunday Rest...and French Toast

We woke up to a cooler breeze and overcast skies...veered back and forth from sun to gray all day.

Got some reading done. 

Planted a raised garden bed, and put in a few pots of herbs. (The hens were checking them out within a few hours, but I was too quick for them -- the netting was on top!)

Got the deck area cleared out, so the roofing guys can start tomorrow. 

And spent some lovely time with the Brick.

He is very fond of waffles, pancakes and that favorite of leftovers everywhere, French Toast.

Did you know that the Brits call it Eggy Toast, or the Poor Knights of Windsor?
I'm guessing that the Poor Knights didn't have too much money, because this dish makes good use of basics: milk, eggs and bread. (Stale bread, if you've got it, is best.)


6-8 slices of bread
2-3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
olive oil and a pat of butter

Mix the eggs and milk while a tablespoon of olive oil and the butter are heating up in your frying pan (med-high). Dip the bread into the egg mixture, and quickly place in the pan -- you can usually get 3-4 slices in. Flip when browned (about 2 min.) and brown the other side, then sprinkle with cinnamon or nutmeg. 

Serve piled on a plate, drizzled with maple or blueberry syrup. Add a side of meat - we had sauteed pork chops this morning --and a bowl of mandarin orange sections besides. 

Things to make it even better --

*Use extra-thick bread, put in a greased baking dish and pour the eggs/milk over. Let sit for an hour, or even overnight, and bake at 375 degrees for 30 min.
 *Add a spoonful of sour cream to the egg/milk mix, or a puff of whipped cream on the finished dish.
*Sprinkle a handful of pecans on just before serving. 
*Fresh sliced fruit on top is also nice.

     We put away the last firewood and flotsam/jetsam in the rain, and came in to supper, hot tea and the movie The Artist. (An amazing flick, if you haven't seen it -- but you must concentrate. It's not a 'talkie,' after all.)

     What a nice way to end a weekend.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Act of Valor

     The Brick and I just saw this amazing 2012 movie.

The actors in Act of Valor are real military, and the incidents are based on real events. One particularly moved us -- that of Michael Mansoor. Mansoor, a Navy SEAL on duty in Iraq in 2006, threw himself on a grenade, protecting his fellow soldiers. He died 30 minutes later.

Mansoor was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by George W. Bush, who attended his funeral. From Wikipedia:
As the coffin was moving from the hearse to the grave site, Navy SEALs were lined up forming a column of twos on both sides of the pallbearers route, with the coffin moving up the center. As the coffin passed each SEAL, they slapped down the gold Trident each had removed from his own uniform and deeply embedded it into the wooden coffin. For nearly 30 minutes the slaps were audible from across the cemetery as nearly every SEAL on the west coast repeated the ceremony.[8]

Bush later said, "When it was all over, the simple wooden coffin had become a gold-plated memorial to a hero who will never be forgotten.” Mansoor's parents later accepted the award on their son's behalf.

Such bravery from these soldiers, who risk themselves every day on our behalf, deserves our grateful thanks, not only around Memorial Day...but every day.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Lace Wire Fence?

Yes, and it's beautiful. 

Check out these photos of the Hackney House in London.

Or go here for the whole shebang, photo-wise. 

More about the Hackney House here. 

Living Carefully

After a long period of working, some of it done while I struggled for weeks with flu, I feel like the sun's beginning to come out. 

It's not just spring, and the opportunity to get outside in the garden. (Though that's wonderful, too.) I'm beginning to see the results of trudging -- continuing to chip away at a large project. At first, it looks as if you're not getting anything accomplished. Why not just watch a movie, instead? But gradually, slowly and almost painfully, the job gets done.

I've still got plenty more to do, but more hope while doing it.

Here's my struggle now -- with more energy and optimism comes the urge to go hog-wild.

Our savings are pretty healthy right now -- why not go get that large flat-screen TV the Brick has looked wistfully at for ages? (Our friends enjoy teasing us about the small one we've used for decades.)
     We're headed to Ireland in August. Why not stay at 5-star hotels and it up right, and not worry about the cost for now?
     Why not? Because we don't roll that way. 

I look at the roofers, who are finally starting to repair the damage left by last year's hailstorm. Some of that healthy bank account balance is going to have to pay them. (We may be one of the last on the block to get our roof done -- but it will be done right, at a reasonable price.)
     *We still have half our property tax to pay for this year, and an emergency fund that won't have much in it after these costs are covered.
     *Still limping by with one car, with careful scheduling that gets the Brick to work, and me to gigs.
     *The freezer is slowly emptying, especially of meat. So are the shelves, of canned goods. (Granted, I stock a lot more in this department than some. Hedging my bets.)

    And every time we just spend money, without doing research or looking for good buys, we've regretted it.

     Thinking and planning for something is half the fun, especially for our upcoming trip to Ireland. I've really enjoyed learning more about the Pirate Queen (more on her in a future post), and planning for Dingle.
     Scotland is on our radar, as well. The Brick is also looking forward to visiting a castle or two held by his Campbell forebears. Not to mention a Cumings stronghold, for my side of the family. Those aren't quite as wealthy -- the Campbells knew enough to suck up to the English king, and prospered. The Cumingses, on the other hand, were fierce, brave - and invariably picked the wrong side to support. My best-known ancestor, Red Comyn, was actually killed by Robert the Bruce. (The stinker.)

If I can hold off on buying extra food, or clothes, or goodies, that means that we've got enough to pay bills and have extra for Ireland. (I've got my eye on getting an Aran sweater, while we're there. Maybe some tartan fabric, too.)
    Gotta hang in there, and continue to live carefully. So should you. Enjoy the sunshine, keep your pennies counted and save for the good stuff, instead!


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Could you do this?

Juggling...magic...and a striptease? 
    Well, sort of.

Clever, too!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Strange Discoveries

These are weird...

A diver, missing since 1999, is found more than two hundred feet down in Lake Michigan, his body still clad in a diving suit. (Sources say the water's so cold "it's like a refrigerator down there.")
    I would have thought this was an anomaly, but here's a video on a Lake Tahoe diver, found two decades after their disappearance. (Guess the fish weren't hungry.)

A Chicana author, Barbara Salinas-Norman, is found among the trash in her Santa Fe condo -- a year after her death. One of her relatives got worried because he hadn't heard from her in a while...

This isn't the first time something like this has happened. 

(Or this one - the poor woman was found in a large cupboard in her son's house!)

Shades of Richard the Third, indeed.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Plantin' and Readin'

Lovely, warm sun -- and the ground's had a good dampening. Our neighbor built the wood frame for two raised beds, which will help protect the vegetables as they come up. (Hopefully we'll have the chicken yard fenced in a few weeks, but this will give us some breathing room. Those darn chickens scratch up everything they can get their claws on.) 
     I opened up the little coop for the babies to run around -- they tore out, panicked and promptly rushed back into the coop! Now they'll come out, but won't stray too far. Silly chickies. 
     Things are looking tidier. I still have things to do, but don't have that sense of pressure I've been dealing with for weeks. Thankfully. Meanwhile, on the Internet:

Food on credit - my story. From Our New Life in the Country.

Taking photos featuring sparklers. Not only good news for photos on the Fourth -- but some good design ideas here. (From Cleverly Inspired.)

An easy bacon-mushroom quiche, also from Cleverly Inspired.

And in keeping with that recipe, an 105-year-old woman who attributes her longevity to bacon! (Hey, I'm all for it.)

Overwhelmed and eliminating it. A great series on figuring out what you really want, step by step. Take some time to read all of the posts. (From Daily Money Shot.)

The girls that were rescued after their years of imprisonment? A 'famous' psychic made a very public prediction about one of the girls...that turned out to be quite wrong. Turns out she's been doing this for decades, and hurting a lot of people in the process. Hmmm.

"I love bacon, I eat it everyday. 
I don't feel as old as I am, that's all I can say."
              Pearl Cantrell, celebrating her 105th birthday

I'm so glad spring finally seems to be here...out to dig in that wonderful dirt.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Raining...Plus An Update on Libby

     It's been stormy here the last few days. Why am I pointing this out? Because, other than brief showers, we rarely get moisture. When the skies are gray all day, people actually celebrate. Growing up in Michigan, I saw this day after day...not here in Colorado, though.
     The chickies don't seem to care. They've been goose-stepping through the puddles and snapping up unwary worms. The baby chicks are safe and warm behind their covering. (They'll be out in the yard by week's end.)
     I'm putting the final touches on the Crazy restoration (whew!) and cleaning up for the weekend's dating and restoration class. Soon the sun will begin shining again, and I can start putting in the garden. Meanwhile, we're all happy it's gray and bleary. Hooray for the rain!

P.S. Thank you for passing the word about Libby Lehman's stroke...her family is keeping her Facebook site updated with current news. So far, it's just a very slow progression toward her hopefully starting to wake. (The doctors have kept her heavily sedated, in hopes of preventing a second stroke. She's been having a lot of 'vascular spasms' which are precursers to it.) 
    Go here for Libby's Facebook site. And keep her and her family in your prayers.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Prayers Needed for Libby

...still working on the quilt restoration, but almost done. I must be doing it in my sleep, as well -- gave up and went to bed last night, and the Brick said I was thrashing around all night. I so want to get this job done. 

If you've hung around in the quilting world for any time at all, you've probably bumped into Libby Lehman -- teacher, judge and quilter extraordinaire.

A few weeks ago, Libby was working at the AQS show in Paducah, when she began to have severe headaches. She went to her doctor when she returned home to Houston -- and had an aneurysm while at his office.
    She was apparently getting better, though the doctors kept her sedated and in a coma. Within the past week, though, she had a stroke. That seems to have paralyzed her left side. Prognosis is uncertain at present.

Please take some time to pray for Libby and her family. Although I don't know her as well as I would wish, she is a dear, talented woman who has affected many people's lives positively -- quilters, as well as nonquilters. (For more on Libby and her work, go here.)
    If you'd like to send a card or encouraging note, here's her address:
                 Libby Lehman
                 617 Caroline
                 Houston, TX  77002

Libby, get well soon. I'm praying for you.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Sleep-Deprived

    Everything's wrapped in a soft gray haze -- too little sleep. Other than appraising at the Creative Needle, and a quick stop at church, I've been working on this crazy quilt restoration for a good chunk of last week. It's almost done; now on to binding it, and doing some final work fusing. Thank God. Where is the time I used to easily go on little or no sleep for days on end? Gone, gone.

Easy ways to keep your financial focus - simple, but effective. From One Frugal Girl.

Chetham's Library. Going strong since the 17th century, and still active. Wow, Andrew Carnegie must be jealous!

Tim Hetherington's portraits of war. What makes these especially poignant: Hetherington was killed during a mortar attack in Sierra Leone. Take a look.

A pallet clock?? This one really grows on you. (Thanks so much for sharing directions, Sugar Bee Crafts.)

Zimbabwe's central bank is getting ready to print 100 trillion Zimbabwean dollar notes. (About $300 in U.S. dollars.) Their inflation rates have skyrocketed, making 50, 20 and 10 trillion notes already small change. (Just one loaf of bread costs about 500 billion z-dollars. Ouch.)

An amusing obituary -- honest, too. I wish I'd known this lady; her kids and grandkids obviously loved her. 

25 Way-Too-Obvious Photos -- do you think anyone really believes them?

Warren Buffett's best tip for financial advice -- short and to the point. But meaty.

Have a good, sleep-filled week.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Thinking Back About Living Below The Line

Sorry I've been's been a long weekend.

Not only am I spending every spare waking moment on finishing up a quilt restoration, but I appraised all day at the Creative Needle in Littleton. (If you're looking for a quilt shop that covers about everything, including embroidery and sewing machines, you should stop by to talk to Marge and her staff. They're one of my favorite places to visit in Denver.)

Today was church -- and more restoration. My wrists are getting a little sore. But the top is nearly done.

Saturday morning finished up our commitment to Live Below the Line. What did I learn from living on $1.50 a day for food all week?

*I'm not that partial to beans. In fact, I lived for a couple of days on bread and butter, instead. (We lucked into some free bread at the local thrift shop, so technically I only spent for the butter those days.)

*I honestly think I could have done better -- and more varied -- meals by cutting out coffee (a BIG chunk of our budget), and going longer. Two weeks' worth of money lets you buy a little more.

*We are big protein eaters. That's not as hard, when Daughter #2 and her boyfriend got 3 animals this year, and are willing to share. (We got a lot of elk and venison for the freezer.) The chickie eggs help, too.

*Dairy helps keep the empty feeling away. A glass of milk in the afternoons made all the difference. Cheese helps, too -- and makes a tasty garnish for all sorts of dishes and breads. (Yes, including beans.)

We ended the week with at least a pound of rice, 1/2 pound of beans, and a few cups of milk left. Not bad, considering. But you can't live on just bread and butter forever.
    There were some tough moments -- like when Daughter #2 came for supper Tuesday night, and I broke out a bag of shrimp for her to have, along with the refried rice. I thought I was okay -- but I must have been staring at her chowing down the shrimp. "You sure you don't want some?" she said.
     Well...I did.

Our contribution is going to the Mennonite Central Committee -- MCC is one of the best, least-wasteful charities, and very involved in helping with world hunger.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Alexander Graham Bell Speaks

The people at the Smithsonian have done a fascinating thing -- actually managed to recapture Alexander Graham Bell's voice recording.
     Graham Bell, as well as others, was heavily experimenting with recording equipment and discs, as well as the telephone. The Smithsonian didn't know how to play these (see below), but managed to do an optical scan on the wax recordings. This one was dated 1885:

Sound recordings don't happen until the mid-1870s, and then only in fragmentary form. For one thing, a satisfactory material for recording wasn't found; they tried everything from wax to cardboard. (In fact, we still don't know for sure, according to the Smithsonian Magazine, how they even managed to play these cylinders.)

I wish we knew what some of our legendary figures really sounded like. What was Abraham Lincoln's voice like, reciting the Gettysburg Address? (Witnesses said it was "a little shriller, a little higher," but carried beautifully.) Was George Washington's voice low, to go with his stature? Charles Dickens was short by our standards (5'6"), but by all accounts, mesmerizing when he spoke. What did he really sound like? (All sorts of actors like to guess -- the results are usually a bit 'plummy,' or snobby British.)
      This one, at least, has finally been captured. 

AQS Paducah Best of Show -- and the other winners

Congratulations to Karen K. Buckley and Renee Haddadin for their 2013 Best of Show winner, Fiesta Mexico!

The American Quilter's Society show in Paducah is one of the oldest in the country -- and one of the most prestigious. What an honor. Other winners are here -- I see several friends and colleagues in the list. Congratulations to all of you!  (Go here for more info.)

Janome of America Best Of Show
303    Renae Haddadin and Karen Kay Buckley    Sandy, Utah    Fiesta Mexico
AQS Hand Workmanship Award
519    Keiko Minami    Kawanishi-shi, Japan    The Charm of Small Pink Roses
BERNINA of America Best Machine Workmanship Award
633    Susan Stewart    Pittsburg, Kansas    Tulip Fire
APQS Longarm Machine Quilting Award
716    Sue McCarty    Roy, Utah    Adventure Awaits
Moda Best Wall Award
1140    Janet Stone    Overland Park, Kansas    Charm School
Benartex Best Miniature Award
1508    Pat Holly    Ann Arbor, Michigan    Tiny Tigers 2
Coats & Clark Wall Hand Workmanship Award
1011    Suzanne Marshall    Clayton, Missouri    Echoing Spring
Brother International Corporation Wall Machine Workmanship Award
1107    Jennifer Day    Santa Fe, New Mexico    Larry
Handi Quilter Wall Longarm/Midarm Machine Quilting Award
1213    Monica Troy    Lemont, Illinois    Purple Iris
TinLizzie18 Judge’s Recognition Award – Kimberly Einmo
713    Janet Knapp    Fergus Falls, Minnesota    My Victory Garden
TinLizzie18 Judge’s Recognition Award – Libby Lehman
1115    Sheila Frampton-Cooper    Van Nuys, California    Fantasyland
TinLizzie18 Judge’s Recognition Award – Velda Newman
1303    Melinda Bula    El Dorado Hills, California    Monet in Pasadena
1. BED QUILTS: Hand Quilted sponsored by Superior Threads
1ST    113    Linda M. Roy    Knoxville, Tennessee    Jacobean Dream
2ND    109    Cathleen Miller    Albuquerque, New Mexico    Days of Wine and Roses
3RD       114    Betty Ekern Suiter    Racine, Wisconsin    Creation Springs Forth
Honorable Mention    107    Yumiko Mandai    Mastusaka, Mie, Japan    Duet
2. BED QUILTS: Home Sewing Machine Quilted sponsored by AccuQuilt
1ST    207    Jean Lohmar    Galesburg, Illinois    Tequila Sunrise
2ND    206    Molly Y. Hamilton-McNally and Cindy Seitz-Krug    Tehachapi, California    Everlasting Beauty
3RD       204    Marilyn R. Eparvier    Byron Center, Michigan    Knots of Flowers
Honorable Mention    205    Frances Gillesheimer and Carol Lauterbach    Whiting, New Jersey    Mary Mannakee Quilt 1850-1851
3. BED QUILTS: Longarm/Midarm Machine sponsored by Hobbs Bonded Fibers
1ST    312    Sharyl L. Schlieckau    Loganville, Wisconsin    Timeless Elegance
2ND    305    Jan Hutchison    Sedgwick, Kansas    Remembrance
3RD       313    Gail H. Smith and Donna Derstadt    Barrington, Illinois    Delft Garden
Honorable Mention    314    Carolyn H. Stine    Springfield, Illinois    My First Trip to Baltimore
4. BED QUILTS: 1st Entry in an AQS Paducah Contest sponsored by Morgan Quality Products
1ST    420    Karen Mommsen    Rice Lake, Wisconsin    Heartburst
2ND    407    Terry Engleman    Spokane, Washington    Terry’s Japanese Flower Garden
3RD       401    Jackie Aguilar    Grand Junction, Colorado    Jackie Got into Aunt Millie’s Garden
Honorable Mention    415    Sara L. Madson    Suffolk, Virginia    A Time Between Times
5. LARGE WALL QUILTS: Hand Quilted sponsored by Fairfield Processing Corporation
1ST    502    Junko Fujiwara    Narashino, Chiba, Japan    A Lot of Thanks
2ND    531    Akemi Soya    Toyko, Japan    Happy Life
3RD       523    Yaeko Noguchi    Saitama City, Japan    Summer Garden
Honorable Mention    530    Nancy Ann Sobel    Brooktondale, New York    Morning at Christam Gazebo
6. LARGE WALL QUILTS: Home Machine Quilted sponsored by Baby Lock USA
1ST    625    Lois Podolny    Tucson, Arizona    My Journey to Baltimore
2ND    614    Jaynette Huff    Conway, Arkansas    Celtic Summer Celebration
3RD       616    Liz Jones    Leominster, Herefordshire, United Kingdom    Love-in-a-Mist
Honorable Mention    631    Patricia Smith    Pinehurst, North Carolina    Caesar and Me: Roman Mosaic
7. LARGE WALL QUILTS: Longarm/Midarm Machine Quilted sponsored by Robert Kaufman Co., Inc.
1ST    726    Mark L. Sherman    Coral Springs, Florida    Poppy’s Rainbow
2ND    706    Terri Doyle    Gilbert, Arizona    Secret Garden
3RD       724    Leslie Rego    Sun Valley, Idaho    Four Seasons
Honorable Mention    728    Margaret Solomon Gunn    Gorham, Maine    Zen Garden
8. LARGE WALL QUILTS: Pictorial sponsored by Elna, Inc.
1ST    805    Denise Havlan    Plainfield, Illinois    The Peaceful Ones
2ND    814    Hiroko Miyama    Chofu City, Tokyo, Japan    Natsumi on Her Bike
3RD       816    Claudia Pfeil    Krefeld, Germany    Turtle Bay
Honorable Mention   813    Kathy McNeil    Tulalip, Washington    More Than a Memory
9. GROUP QUILTS: sponsored by Innova
1ST    905    Susan H. Garman, Cynthia Clark, Pat Cotter, Jerrianne Evans, Marsha Fuller, Georgann Wrinkle    Friendswood, Texas    Friends of Baltimore
2ND    914    Joyce Stewart and Ann Seely    Deweyville, Utah    Abundance
3RD       909    Milwaukee Art Quilters    Wauwatosa, Wisconsin    The Jennings Homestead
Honorable Mention    907    Illinois Quilters, Inc.    Green Oaks, Illinois    Delectable Mountain Garden
10. SMALL WALL QUILTS: Hand Quilted sponsored by Legacy by Pellon
1ST    1020    Frances Yoder    Whispering Pines, North Carolina    Baltimore Baskets
2ND    1012    Tina McCann    Depoe Bay, Oregon    Kells
3RD       1010    Diane Lane    Wichita, Kansas    Little Puzzling
Honorable Mention    1001    Mary Abbott Williams    Pinehurst, North Carolina    Opus Jacobus
11. SMALL WALL QUILTS: Home Machine Quilted sponsored by Koala Cabinets
1ST    1136    Ann L. Petersen    Surprise, Arizona    Grandma’s Stellar Array
2ND    1118    Shirley Gisi    Colorado Springs, Colorado    Indian Summer Sunset
3RD    1127    Pat LaPierre    Bass Harbor, Maine    Floribunda
Honorable Mention    1104    Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry    Paducah, Kentucky    Lepidopteran #3
12. SMALL WALL QUILTS: Longarm/Midarm Quilted sponsored by Hoffman California Fabrics
1ST    1211    Diana Tatro    Yuba City, California    Imperial Blooms
2ND    1212    Alice Tignor    Severna Park, Maryland    Northern Stars
3RD    1203    Peg Collins    Alamosa, Colorado    Bella Rosa
Honorable Mention    1202    Jo Carol Bird and Meri Pinner    Yukon, Oklahoma    Snowmen A to Zzzz
13. SMALL WALL QUILTS: Pictorial sponsored by Horn of America
1ST    1311    Cindy Garcia    Racine, Wisconsin    God’s Greatest Gift to Me Was Dad
2ND    1305    Jennifer Day    Santa Fe, New Mexico    Boy and His Best Friend
3RD       1322    Lea McComas    Superior, Colorado    Turkish Bread Boys
Honorable Mention    1306    Pat Durbin    Eureka, California    Megan’s Forest
14. SMALL WALL QUILTS: 1st Entry in an AQS Paducah Contest by YLI Corporation
1ST    1409    Cherrie Hampton    Oklahoma City, Oklahoma    Oklahoma Windsong
2ND    1420    Pam McIntyre    Gainesville, Florida    Sunshine
3RD       1410    Leona Harden    Lilburn, Georgia    Melon Melange
Honorable Mention    1431    Laura Trenbeath    Pavillion, Wyoming    Upper Body Workout
15. MINIATURE QUILTS: Miniature sponsored by JUKI America, Inc.
1ST    1507    Robin Gausebeck    Rockford, Illinois    In Flanders Fields
2ND    1510    Kaye Koler    Amherst, Ohio    Home at Last
3RD       1522    Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero    Fort Collins, Colorado    Flights of Fancy
Honorable Mention    1517    Lois Podolny    Tucson, Arizona    For the Love of the Garden Green
Honorable Mention    1505    Karen Eckmeier    Kent, Connecticut    Miniville

Living Below the Line - Day 4

The Brick and I continue our food experiment on Living Below the Line

It's not been too bad. (I do miss the meat. We eat a lot more meat than I'd realized.) Although I wouldn't enjoy eating like this for extended periods, we actually lived on a similar budget as poor college students. Our mainstays:

     *canned chicken noodle soup
     *ramen noodles (we bought Sapporo Ichiban by the case at the local Japanese market)
     *peanut butter and jam sandwiches on homemade bread. (The Brick still loves this. I'd rather have just plain bread and butter.)
     *Pig in the Blankets (recipe over in my foods blog soon)
     *pancakes and waffles (still the Brick's favorite on Saturday mornings)
     *carrots, onions and potatoes - still the cheapest veggies out there
     *any fresh fruit or veggies in season.
     *hamburger, with an occasional steak or beef stew (the latter served over rice)
     *roast chicken (with the bones and bits used for soup and casseroles)
     *pork chops or pork steak, sliced thin. Also bacon -- usually the 'bits and pieces' package -- and the occasional bratwurst.
     *smelt and whatever fish was cheapest - it was salmon, haddock and tilapia back then. (We switched to trout when we moved to Colorado, and salmon is now a luxury. Shrimp is the cheap indulgence, instead.)
     *rice and beans (heavily relied on for this week's challenge)
     *lots of soup, generally made from leftovers

Home-brewed coffee, an occasional beer or glass of wine, and brownies rounded out the essentials.
     Our diet was heavier on starches than it is now -- and I use more veggies and fruit. (Fewer apples, sadly - they used to be much cheaper in Michigan.) I use more Mexican ingredients, including tortillas and that blessed taste, green chilies. More cookies - especially chocolate chip - than we should have. (The Brick loves his "pogey bait.")
     Otherwise, though, we eat many of the same foods, prepared the same way. That's partly because it's easy. (I still don't have a leisurely schedule, though it was worse back then, working full-time.) Partly because it's healthier. (I bake, more than fry.)

     And partly because it's just plain good.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May 1? Really??

You could have fooled me -- it's snowing like crazy here. 

See for yourself. (This weather cam is up in northern Denver, but it's doing the same thing here in Castle Rock -- only harder.)

So much for May Day in Colorado.