Sunday, July 28, 2013

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Buying A Car

After months of jockeying schedules, doubling up on errands whenever possible, and doing what we can, there seems to be no doubt: we need a second car. 
     I'm starting into the busy season for gigs -- beginning with an PAAQT appraisers conference this coming week in Shipshewana, Indiana. With the Brick needing our Cherokee to get to work, there's nothing to do but rent a car. They're going for $40-50 a day in Denver right now, but the Brick found a $15/day car in Colorado Springs. (Whew) I'll use it to get to the conference, make a quick visit to Michigan to see family, and bring back the Mama to stay for August. Somehow, before I leave Tuesday morning, I've got to finish packing, clear away a big batch of appraisal work, and get the two guest bedrooms ready. Not only is the Mama coming back, but nephew Andrew is coming to visit soon after.
     We've been looking for the right vehicle, but so far, nothing fits. If you're looking to sell a 2010 or 2011 Subaru Outback in good condition, send me a quick message -- we might be interested! Meanwhile, on the Internet horizon:

A great "how I did it" video profile of Mr. Money Mustache, one of my favorite bloggers. (And a Coloradoan, to boot. He's also got an interesting post listing  50 jobs paying $50,000 or more...without a degree.

How hackers can disable your car's functions, including the brakes, by using their laptops. Are you as scared by the potential of this report as I am? (From Forbes)

Getting the most out of a garage sale. (From Get Rich Slowly)

Yours truly is still writing a lot for PF sites, especially Midlife Finance (my primary gig) and Penny Thots. A sampling:
    How much can you withdraw from your savings after retirement? (MLF)
    Five life lessons learned at a shooting range (PT - wonder how I got this idea?)
    Should you pay off your house? (MLF)
    Smoothies, iced coffee and other summer refreshments (PT)
    Twenty ways to play this summer...without spending a lot of extra money (MLF)
    Social Security, healthcare, and other things to obsess about (MLF)

Hitchhiking: frugal transportation or death wish? (Tight-Fisted Miser's title alone makes the post worth reading...

Dealing with people who who tear you up inside. But you still must, regardless. I Pick Up Pennies has the scoop, poor girl.

Donna Freedman, on the value of a stockpile.  If you ever get into trouble, this is one of your safeguards. Call it hedging your bets.

And for inspiration:

Have a peaceful week.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Animals, Doing What Comes Naturally

So, a bear walks into a bar, and...

    No, this is not a joke. A bear really did stroll into a Colorado bar! The customers up front must have been having a lot of fun, because no one saw him, except for a bystander who raced in and filmed the bear wandering around. He soon strolled out again.  (Maybe he wasn't thirsty.)

There's always something going on in Estes Park, home of Rocky Mountain National Park. Including bar-hopping bears.
    A few nights ago, a friend casually mentioned he'd seen a bear in their neighborhood -- in fact, he (the bear) had tipped over their garbage can. But did we see it? Or the other time bears decided to wander casually down the middle of our street?

      Nooo...we were out of town. On vacation.

Update: Thursday night, our next-door neighbors had their hummingbird feeders literally snapped right off the pole in their front yard. Usually that means Mr. Bear is around, but no visual sign of him yet. 

* * * * * * * *

And this video, of a cat who sees its owner after 6 months:

Though I suspect it was a setup -- the cat showed wayyy too much emotion.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Secondhand Rose Is Just As Sweet...Or Maybe Sweeter

Apartment Therapy's got a readers' list of amazing secondhand finds, including free designer coaches (from an estate sale) and Hermes scarves -- new ones -- for a couple of bucks each.

   One person talks about snagging an Eames lounger and ottoman for $80. Sigh. I love those beauties. Apparently the doctor who originally owned it died -- and his wife didn't like the style.

The price on this one? A cool $1199.

Reminds me of this weekend, at the Firehouse Quilters show. I was appraising when I saw a beautiful -- and unusual -- quilt the client found at a Goodwill in Parker. (Colorado, that is.) And she bought it only a few weeks ago.
     Jealousy reared its ugly little head. I said, "Wait a minute - I shop at that Goodwill. How come I missed it?!" Turns out 'her' Goodwill was actually some miles away from the Parker one I frequent, so felt better. (Silly, I know.)

Bargains I've found? 

*A Scottish-made (high end label) cashmere sweater in pale blue - $6. (This one came a few weeks ago from "Sally," the Salvation Army store in Boulder. High incomes, casual approach to stuff -- it's a perfect mix for finding good things. I've bought everything from paintings to mountain bikes there for pennies on the dollar.)

*A longer alpaca sweater - $3.

*handmade, original design Italian high heels, with a label that said they were runway samples - $4. (Daughter #2 snagged these; they fit her perfectly.)

*A first edition of Amelia Earhart's autobiography. Purchased for $2; sold for $50 and change on Amazon.

*Snug, down-stuffed paisley print lounging chair, with removable pillows - $40. High-end fabric, and it's worn like iron.

*Arts & Crafts iron-and-stained glass lamp - $20.

*Depression-Era Double Wedding Ring quilt top - $35. (The Mama quilted it for Daughter #1's birthday.)

*Swedish leather clogs - 2 pairs - $2 each.

*Chinese blue-and-white ceramic stool - $40. It's held up beautifully to weather, and currently holds a large potted pepper plant.

*12 place setting set of 1930s dishes -- only a few pieces missing -- for $29. Even platters and bowls were included. A beautiful red/yellow/blue floral on cream background. The only problem: they're gold-rimmed, so can't be used in the microwave.

More amazing finds from Apartment Therapy here -- but weirdly, the comments section seems to be the same as the later article.

And an apartment filled with secondhand finds that's intriguing.

I'm still looking for that Eames chair, though.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

'Bits and Pieces' Updates

William and Kate Update:  If you haven't seen photos of the new little royal guy, here they are -- and he's a cutie. Frankly, the parents look beat -- especially Kate. But having a kid is no picnic, as all you moms out there can attest.  (Did you know they almost didn't get married?)
   Update: He's got a name now -- George Alexander Louis. 
    (The Brick is groaning here -- being a staunch Republican, in the truest sense of the word, he has no interest in British royalty. I'm the opposite. Though they should be supporting themselves financially, instead of letting Great Britain foot the bill, I find them amusing, irritating and intriguing, all at the same time.)

The chickies update: The chickens have been molting for the past few weeks, which really cut down on the eggs. But they seem to be picking up -- this morning, I found a secret nest of eggs down by one of the garden beds. Not sure how old the eggs are, but they weren't there a few days ago. (We'll 'candle' them to find out.) The babies are rapidly growing...could they have been laying those eggs? (The Brick thinks not -- and it is still early for that.)
     Sadly, we are one less grown chicken. Mrs. Broody, our lone hen who insisted on trying to hatch each and every egg, finally outlived her welcome. She would attempt to peck at us, and push out any of the other hens who wanted to lay. (They all insist on using only one of the three available nesting boxes - go figure. I've seen them stacked three deep in there, all working on an egg.)
     We've been finding broken eggs every once in a while. I thought it was because of all the thrashing around in there until I caught Mrs. B. in the act one morning, yolk dripping from her beak. The little stinker was eating eggs.
      The only recourse to that is removing her from the flock, before she taught the others to do it. So we did.
      She was delicious. ate her? Actually, things are a lot more peaceful now in the coop. Poor Mrs. Broody.

Yours Truly Update:  After a scorching few weeks, we finally had a tiny bit of rain...blessedly, the air cleared. It's still hot, but not blistering.
    It's been a strange few weeks. I minded the store for friends who have an insurance agency, and simultaneously jammed in appraisals, including two days at the Firehouse Quilters' annual show. Thankfully, it was held at the fairgrounds in Castle Rock, so I could buzz over there, appraise for the day, then buzz back and do a stint at Castle Rock Insurance.
    But I got really, really tired after a while.

Yesterday was the last day at Castle Rock Insurance. Today, I did more appraising (of course!) with more coming by the end of the week. Then it's on to Shipshewana, Indiana for the annual meeting of PAAQT: 'Professional Association of Appraisers - Quilted Textiles.' Shipshe, as it's known, has a lot of Amish quilters and influences, but we'll also be studying art quilts, Michigan State University's collection, and several other subjects. I'll take the USPAP refresher course (still working toward that certification, though it's definitely getting closer), then bring The Mama back with me. She's agreed to spend the month with us, then house-sit while we're in Ireland.
     Hopefully a good time will be had by all.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Hanging in There

Another zany week down for the count...this one will be better, if I can only get through it. It's hot as blazes, and there are a million things to do before leaving next week -- I've got an appraisers conference to attend in Shipshewana, Indiana. The list is shorter this week, because I haven't had much time to wander around the Internet. It will beef up again...I promise.

A bed with storage underneath - made easy. Works for college students and anyone who needs storage in their bedroom. (Looks an awful lot like a very expensive bed from Pottery Barn, too.)

Fifty things you're going to have a tough time explaining on the Internet. Some weird stuff here. (Skip it if you don't feel like dealing with the sexy photos in the sidebars.)

From the "Whoa, Those are Quirky" Department: Cindy's "Vintage Twins" Pinterest page.  These photos are intriguing.

The couple who left strange requests for their hotel stay, just for fun...then forgot. See what was there waiting for them!

A subliminal message on the collar of Wendy's new logo girl? Some people think so.

There's a new heir to the British throne! Kate and William had a baby boy July 22...congratulations to them and their little darling. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

More on Libby Lehman...Including How You Can Help

The folks at American Quilter's Society are planning a fundraiser for our mutual friend, Libby Lehman.  On Aug. 16, they'll be sponsoring a benefit auction at the Grand Rapids, MI conference. Proceeds will be donated toward Libby's mounting medical bills.

When: Friday, August 16, 2013
Time: 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Where: Ballroom B – DeVos Place Convention Center
303 Monroe Ave NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

They're looking for quilt donations...can you help out?

• Donate items for the auction – quilt(s) and other quilt-related items.
• Ship items to arrive in Paducah by Monday, August 5, 2013, including a 3” x 5” card that lists a description of the item, its approximate value, and your name and address, to:
Attn: Libby Auction
5801 Kentucky Dam Rd.
Paducah, KY 42003

Go here for more information.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Protecting Your Home...and You

Ever wonder what people on the other side of the law are thinking?

Here are 15 'trade secrets' from a 'burglar,' including several suggestions on things you can do to protect yourself.

Even easier: watch this video of a career criminal's secrets from NBC. (The advice is similar, isn't it.) Or this Youtube selection from the "Secrets of A Thief" series. (You can access the others through this one.)

Actually, we're pretty careful about this. Our neighborhood is just off Colorado's main north-south highway, with easy access on and off. We get a ton of salesmen, especially kids who were obviously dropped off at the beginning of the development, and are just working their way door to door. Yours truly, being a writer, so often home during the day, generally gets to talk to every one of them.

I do it with the screen door closed, and two dogs (Charley and his 'pet,' Abby) nearby. When Buck, our Weimaraner, was still alive, one 'friendly' guy tried to open the screen and push his way in. Buck told him in no uncertain terms to back off and GET OUT.

    Charley, on the other hand, would probably have invited him in for a beer. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Another Viewpoint on the Zimmerman Trial

"De la Rionda [the chief prosecutor] also acknowledged, based on witness and forensic evidence, that both men “were scraping and rolling and fighting out there.” He pointed out that the wounds, blood evidence, and DNA didn’t match Zimmerman’s story of being thoroughly restrained and pummeled throughout the fight. But the evidence didn’t fit the portrait of Martin as a sweet-tempered child, either. And the notion that Zimmerman hunted down Martin to accost him made no sense. Zimmerman knew the police were on the way. They arrived only a minute or so after the gunshot. The fight happened in a public area surrounded by townhouses at close range. It was hardly the place or time to start shooting.
That doesn’t make Zimmerman a hero. It just makes him a reckless fool instead of a murderer. In a post-verdict press conference, his lawyer, Mark O’Mara, claimed that “the evidence supported that George Zimmerman did nothing wrong,” that “the jury decided that he acted properly in self-defense,” and that Zimmerman “was never guilty of anything except protecting himself in self-defense. I’m glad that the jury saw it that way.” That’s complete BS. The only thing the jury decided was that there was reasonable doubt as to whether Zimmerman had committed second-degree murder or manslaughter."

                         -- William Saletan, SLATE magazine

Go here for more of Saletan's post on the subject.

Life Goes Round

    Some of the surprising stories I've bumped into lately:

A 73-year-old wedding dress makes its way down the aisle again...worn by the 98-year-old bride who graced it the first time. Agnes Anderson looks just as lovely as she did in 1938. (She wore the dress for a bridal gown show in Muskegon, Michigan.)

On the other end of the spectrum, there's the man who posted 101 Uses For My Ex-Wife's Wedding Dress:

The "pregnant man," Thomas Beatie, has filed for divorce. (He has a new girlfriend, who looks surprisingly like his 'old' wife.) But in April, a judge denied it:

Want a new defensive weapon? Try holding a baby while you're punching...or at least that's what one of these women decided during a fight at a Long Island, NY Chuck E. Cheese:

(Missed it? Go to the 30-second spot in the video.)

Another candidate for the "Best Mom in the World" award was banned from a dollar store in Philly because the employees suspected her of shoplifting. She returned with a can of pepper spray and used it liberally on the employees. Then she handed the can to her 7-year-old daughter and urged her, "You know what to do, Baby. Spray it!"

A Chicago man cleans out the leftover lottery tickets in a cookie jar...and finds one worth $4.85 million. (Just in time, too -- the family was facing foreclosure.)

The CEO of Delta Airlines gives up his own seat, so a woman can make it home in time to pick up her daughter from summer diabetes camp. No one would have known, had she not posted an open letter on her Facebook page. (The Delta people even refused to comment, saying the story stands on its own.)

Us too, I'm afraid. After our trials with the fence-sitting babies, we put up netting and extra posts on the chainlink fence to keep them from roosting there. Then, just out of curiosity to see how they handled it, the Brick and I spent nearly two hours around sunset out on the deck. We talked some, but most of the time was spent watching "the 'chicken channel,'" as the Brick puts it.
      When the first hen tried it, we held our breaths. Would she succeed? (And now what...)
      She lasted 5 seconds up there, then went down in flames. Big sigh of relief. The second through fifth chicken tried it too, and failed. We cheered!
      One of the best shows I've seen in ages. Then again, the neighbors are used to weird stuff happening around here.

Who knows what happens next in this wacky world...

Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Zimmerman is Acquitted

Am I the only one who's suprised (and a little relieved) that George Zimmerman was acquitted? 

    Put aside Trayvon Martin's parents' grief. (I do feel for them.)
    Put aside the race of both men. (If Zimmerman had been 100% Caucasian, instead of half-Hispanic, God help him.)
    Put aside the pictures that the media chose to air. (Why always a little-kid-looking photo for Trayvon Martin, when he was 17...and quite tall?)
    Both had things to hide -- Zimmerman, for his temper and refusal to listen. Martin, for being suspended from school for marijuana. (Up to this point, his parents portrayed him as squeaky-clean. And true, he didn't have a criminal record.) It's still a tad foggy why Martin was there...and Zimmerman too, quite frankly.
    Think about the witness who testified at the trial, who saw the incident. And said that Zimmerman was on the bottom, getting beat up, when he shot Martin. He was adamant about it. Does this sound like the teenaged innocent Trayvon was claimed to be?

     Sure, I have reservations about the whole thing. Who wouldn't, when there are so many unanswered questions and holes about the incident. I'm not convinced that George Zimmerman was completely innocent.
    But then again, I'm not convinced that Trayvon was, either.

(Update:  Martin's autopsy results showed liver damage and a connection to DXM (codeine cough syrup), as well as damage consistent with marijuana use and "Lean," a street drug mix that combines cough syrup with a sweet drink and candy. (Yes, Skittles are one of the primary candies used.) Lo and behold, Martin's Facebook page (now magically removed) included several conversations with friends about drugs, including Lean. (Go here for more on this.
 Here, too.) 
    Our legal system argues that the person on trial is considered innocent before being proven guilty. Zimmerman was convicted in the media from the getgo, which probably messed up any chance to properly present the evidence, both pro- and anti-Zimmerman. Even President Obama got in on the publicity:

("I think all of us have to do some soul searching to figure out: How does something like this happen?" Obama said.
"And that means that we examine the laws and the context for what happened, as well as the specifics of the incident."  Agreed, Mr. President. But that's a tad different than the "son" addition, which shouts what you really think. Would you have said this if Martin had a juvenile record?)

When it comes to the bottom line, I'm guessing that the jury just wasn't certain. And that meant they weren't willing to condemn an innocent man. (If he was indeed innocent.) That would have been a travesty on top of everything else that's gone wrong in this far-too-public trial.
    You know very well that something like this will happen again. And again. And when it does, people will be sprinting to the scene, pulling out their "rascist" cards as they go. What will they say if a black man is attacked, and shoots, another black man?

     P.S. The protests about the verdict have been more peaceful than first feared. (The media sounds almost disappointed about it, too.)  

     The bottom line: only George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin know for sure what happened on that night.
     What a mess.

Other news in Internet-Land:

An easy way to get rid of pet stains, from Money Beagle. (I know, ironic -- he's actually got cats.)

Barbara Brackman, on asymmetry, 'mistakes' and hoo-doo blocks in quilts. There is an 'error' in this quilt...see it? (Read Barbara's second blogpost, referenced on the bottom of this one, for the answer.)

What are the most important money lessons parents should teach their children?  (from Get Rich Slowly)

A beautiful hanging mirror, made from wood shims! (Thanks, Ciburbanity...this is gorgeous.)

Dollar seats on Megabus? Save Outside the Box shows you more. (Daughter #2 and I have gotten these before -- it actually works.)

Buying 'bits of history' -- i.e., antiques. (From It's All Connected)

A Brazilian ref gets in a fight with a player, stabs him -- and ends up with his (the referee's) head on a pike in midfield. I'm not making this up -- the Brick noticed the article.  (We still tend to keep track of Brazillian news, ever since we went there some years ago.)

What if you woke up broke? Mr. Money Moustache ponders the question.

A Steampunk lamp that's amazing. Started out as a clock in the hands of Plum

Crappy timing in your life decisions? Punch Debt in the Face bemoans his fate, including having to pay a higher home interest rate, now rates are rising. (I'd say his timing may be a bit off -- but he's still got an awful lot of opportunities others don't.)

Quickie last-minute cleaning tips, from Apartment Therapy.

Yard sale flipping, by Money, Life and More.

An interesting travel blog - Quitting My Job and Living In Costa Rica.  She makes an excellent point that keeping track of your purchases -- and being careful about it -- lets you spend that money for far more interesting things. Like living somewhere wonderful, instead of just visiting it for a few weeks. (The Brick and I are hoping to do this a few years from now.)

From the Department of "Wow:"  Every week, the numbers of people looking for the latest "Monday Stuff" posts increase. I cannot tell you how honored I am.  I hope you'll also take a minute and sign up to 'follow' my blog, or at least get the posts via e-mail. You'd be very welcome to join me for the ride! 
    Thank you so much. And have a great week.

Chrysanthemums, the flowers of "hope," in the Language of Flowers. Hope that our messed-up world gets a whole lot better.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Chickie Chronicles

I haven't talked about our chickens lately, so thought you might appreciate an update.

Frankly, it's been a little weird in the Brick chicken world.

Our 'Production Red' girlies look like this...3 of them, 16 of the black Austrolorps
     The older girls are molting right now. They look ruffled and messy, and a big batch of neck feathers are falling out, giving them a naked look. That's bad enough, but this also means they've largely stopped laying eggs. One, two or three eggs every day, versus what we were getting before: 7, 8 or 9. Our regular customers are getting short shrift, and I feel like a lucky woman if I have enough for scrambled eggs for the Brick in the morning.
     The younger girls have a new and interesting hobby -- instead of gathering down in the coop at night, like they used to, they want to roost on top of the fence. The six-foot chain link fence. The one that's supposed to keep them safe, from foxes and hawks and such.
     This means that every night, the Brick goes outside the fence, I go inside...and between us, we scoop them off like a big bouquet and try to stuff them into the coop. They fly everywhere, whirring and clucking, and we chase them back in. This takes quite a while, and no doubt, provides plenty of entertainment for the neighbors.

     Saturday, we clipped their wings. That was a picnic in itself. We chased the babies under the netting by the coop (to keep them protected from hawks, if they'd bother to stay underneath), then plucked them out, one by one. The Brick clipped one wing deeply of each, the feathers falling away in showers.

That would be enough to keep them on the ground, right?

That evening, every single bird but one was on the fence, cooing sleepily. Happy as clams.

Tonight, I bought another roll of netting. We'll spread it up high, against the bushes that peek over the fence there. They won't be able to climb (or jump, or fly) up again. Hopefully that will solve the problem.

 The molting should end soon, and the eggs start up again. The babies will grow out of this 'wild thing' period soon, hopefully. (And start laying eggs themselves in September.) But meanwhile, I wonder: who's smarter, them or us?

I don't want to know the answer.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Another Great One Gone...And Your Help Needed

Mary Ellen Hopkins has joined the rank of quilting great ones who've moved on. She died July 9 in California.
   I loved her book "The It's Okay If You Sit On My Quilt Book," and greatly admired her enthusiastic manner. She was a great inspiration to many timid quilters.

Thoughts and sympathy cards for Mary Ellen Hopkins can be sent to her son
David Hopkins
946 Woodgrove Drive
Cardiff by the Sea, CA 92007

See her obituary here.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
 And your help is needed for survivors of the Black Forest fires in Colorado!

"Piecing Partners Quilt Guild and the Colorado Springs Quilt Guild are partnering to make, collect and distribute quilts to the Black Forest Fire victims, who lost a total of 486  homes.    We will be collecting items through July and August.     We might have to extend the date if we don't have enough quilts by then.

We need finished quilts,  (twin to queen size).  We were advised by those who helped with last year's Waldo Canyon fire that we would need more of the larger quilts than kid or crib size.     Also, we are looking for quilts suitable for teenagers.  Donations can be mailed to:

          Vickey Anderson (BFFQ)
          6465 Pahokee Dr.
          Colorado Springs, CO    80915-1711 

We appreciate any help we can get from other individuals and groups.   If you have any questions, please e-mail me at

Thank you,

Elaine Goodrum

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Free Slurpees at 7-11 on July 11!

Get a free Slurpee from 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Who knows...maybe it will inspire you to do the...

Or maybe not. But they do taste good on a hot summer day...

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Ten Ways to Get Someone to Listen

This is a tough one...particularly when they don't want to.

I'm struggling with this lately. So often, it seems, the person or people I'm trying to persuade, isn't (or aren't) interested in any kind of dialogue.

Here are ten approaches that have helped. They haven't totally solved the problem -- but they do give me hope.

1.  Cultivate your reputation for honesty. People should be able to rely on it -- whatever you say should be the truth. Don't lie, even if it would be temporarily easier (and make people happier in the short term). You'll regret it.

2.  Work at tactfulness. This is harder. Can you put aside your own personal prejudices and preferences, in order to consider what others think?

3.   Listen first. Let them tell you what they need to -- get it out of their system, so to speak. (They may also have some points you need to consider, before you make a decision.)

4.  Wait for them to stop shouting. DON'T shout back -- all this does is ramp up emotion on both sides. Wait. Give it even more time, if the atmosphere is still emotional. Overnight, preferably.  They'll calm down some...and so will you.

5.  Do not let yourself be denigrated, ridiculed or belittled. Do not allow others to be treated this way, either. It doesn't matter if you agree with their viewpoint. (See #7.)

6.  Say "Here's what I hear you saying." Repeat their points. First, this reminds them that you've been trying to listen to what they've had to say. Secondly, it may point out items you've misunderstood...or they didn't mean that way.

7.  R-E-S-P-E-C-T. This should be a given to those you're speaking with, even if they refuse to offer it in return. Do you have enough moral strength to know what's right, and continue on, even when the going gets difficult? That's what self-respect is all about -- and it's far more important than respect from others. (Although that's nice, too.) 

(Of course, there's...I know you're thinking of it, too.)

7.  Offer a compliment.  Insulting someone, then expecting them to do what you're asking, is laughable. Why would they? (Our teenagers learned this the hard way.)

8.  If need be, compromise. Often you can come to terms, if you try. At the very least, you can come up with a group of possibles for compromise in the future.

9.  Try to come to a useful conclusion. It may not solve many problems -- it may not take care of the most important one! But it should deal with at least some of the issues, for now. (Plan to work on the others later.)

10.  Thank them for their opinion. The point is not that you will always 100% agree with everyone -- because you won't. You listened to them -- so you understand better where they're coming from.
    Hopefully, they also listened to you.

Can this whole process be discouraging and frustrating? You bet. 
Can it change things, if only gradually? I believe it can. 
    Is it worth it? 
                Yes. Oh yes.

Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies...Less Than 5 Minutes!

Want a nice warm cookie...but don't feel like doing up a full batch?

Try this "Chocolate Chip Cookie in A Cup" recipe from No. 2 Pencil.

Warm, crunchy, and best of all -- it only takes about 2 min. to mix up and another minute to cook.

And you won't be hearing more cookies calling your name at midnight. (Ok, maybe you will, but you'll actually have to get up and cook them.)

The Brick has been wishing for chocolate chip cookies, but it's been too blinking hot to cook. He loves them warm out of the oven -- guess what he's getting for supper tonight?

(Keep moving down this link, and you'll find all sorts of great desserts in-a-cup, including peanut butter and sugar cookies, as well as brownies. Oh boy.)

Update: Doubled this recipe, using a full egg (instead of an egg yolk) and a handful of pecans, in addition to the chocolate chips. It took 1 1/2 minutes to microwave. Absolutely delicious...

Monday, July 8, 2013

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Relaxed July - For Now, Anyways

Last week was a welcome break -- I didn't have to go anywhere or meet with anyone. Instead, I worked on the computer, messed around with the garden (watered like crazy - it's been hot around here) and read more books than I should have. 
    It was great. 
    This week, back to some appraising, meet some deadlines, and get ready for the Firehouse Quilters show at the fairgrounds. (If you're in the Denver area next week, July 19-20, this is one of the best quilt shows in Colorado.) 
     Meanwhile, I saw these interesting items on the Internet:

Wallpapering...with gift wrap! A Thoughtful Place makes this look easy.

A hatful of weird facts about King Tut's mummy -- including the welcome news that his body was chopped up in pieces and scraped out of its golden coffin with hot knives. (Try to get that mental image out of your mind!)

Chocolate oatmeal cookie bars that are no-bake...and healthy, to boot? Gotta try 'em, Moneysaving Mom.

How a family of four lives on less than $14,000 a year. (From Business Insider)

Donna Freedman's poetic look at the end of summer. (In Alaska, it's not far around the bend.)

Five insanely cool courtyards -- especially if your house isn't very big, to begin with.

An unusual DIY yard art project, from Southern Hospitality.  I was surprised how much this 'grew' on me after a while...

40 crockpot meals, ready for the freezer in four hours. (No, I'm not making this up. It's called 'organizing.' (From Who Needs A Cape.) While I was wandering around her site, I came across the recipe for chicken tortilla soup that sounds a lot like Chili's version. (I love Chili's chicken enchilada soup!) Will try this soon.

NQA Annual Quilt Show winners.  No photos -- but you'll recognize many of these names.

The teacher who wore the same outfit to school pictures every year...for forty years. (He's back in style again, too!)

Easy biscuits...made with 7Up!   (From Money Beagle.)

JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound have been percolating in my mind, ever since I Am Trying to Break Your Heart. See what you think of this selection, "Sister Ray Charles." If you enjoy the blues, you're in for a treat. (Weird video, GREAT song!)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Literary Admiration - And Fistfights

I just enjoyed a slideshow wherein famous authors talk about other authors who've inspired them This is interesting enough...and gives plenty of suggestions for reading. But what I find most amusing: the same authors who are being cited for the inspiration they give are often the same ones that people hate, as well! This article, Literary takedowns, proves the point.

One of the funniest commentaries is Mark Twain's review of the "romantic fiction" of James Fenimore Cooper, author and creator of The Deerslayer, The Pioneers and The Last of the Mohicans. I never read these books, but knew his face well from the "Authors" card game.

Mr. Cooper, from a photograph by Matthew Brady. Looks tired, poor guy. (Wikipedia)
Cooper's characters were knee-deep in woodsmanship, creeping silently through the forest, or full of bravado, sailing on the ocean. Twain just thought it was all a bunch of hooey. Cooper's people did things that didn't make sense, considering their 'expertise.'  Case in point:
    "Another stage-property that he pulled out of his box pretty frequently was the broken twig. He prized his broken twig above all the rest of his effects, and worked it the hardest. It is a restful chapter in any book of his when somebody doesn't step on a dry twig and alarm all the reds and whites for two hundred yards around. Every time a Cooper person is in peril, and absolute silence is worth four dollars a minute, he is sure to step on a dry twig. There may be a hundred other handier things to step on, but that wouldn't satisfy Cooper. Cooper requires him to turn out and find a dry twig; and if he can't do it, go and borrow one."

Also, they tended to change radically through the book:
     “When a personage talks like an illustrated, gilt-edged, tree-calf, hand-tooled, seven-dollar Friendship’s Offering in the beginning of a paragraph, he shall not talk like a negro minstrel in the end of it. But this rule is flung down and danced upon in the 'Deerslayer' tale."

    Twain devised a long set of  "rules governing literary art in romantic fiction," and listed all the ways Cooper broke them, including this one:
    " They require that the author shall make the reader feel a deep interest in the personages of his tale and in their fate; and that he shall make the reader love the good people in the tale and hate the bad ones. But the reader of the 'Deerslayer' tale dislikes the good people in it, is indifferent to the others, and wishes they would all get drowned together."

His essay, "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses, is very funny. In fact, it makes me want to go read The Deerslayer, just to see what Twain is fussing about!

Didn't work, Mark. Nice try. (Wikipedia)
 I liked the movie Last of the Mohicans very much, in spite of the bloody parts - and there are many. I'm guessing, though, that had a lot to do with Daniel Day-Lewis and his skill in running uphill, carrying a rifle. Or two. (Yow.)

 But the name of the hero in Cooper's Leatherstocking Tales series, Natty Bumppo, has got to be one of the stupidest in literature.

Might make for good reading on a hot summer's day, though.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

An Odd Civil War Bit

Surely you must have noticed by now...I love the quirky stuff.

Found a chest years ago in my grandma's garage, filled with junk. No one else wanted it. I persuaded Dad to help me strip its paint away to the original finish; it now sits in our dining room.
    While cleaning it out, I found two patches of fabric -- one gray, one blue -- and a note that attributed them to cousins' Civil War uniforms. One Confederate, the other Union!
     My ancestors weren't the only ones to hold sympathizers from both sides, by any means.

Just ran across this in Ghosts of Williamsburg Vol. II by L.B. Taylor, Jr. He mentions the Battle of Malvern Hill, a Civil War event, and a reference from Nannette Morrison in her book, Warrior Poets and Warrior Saints:

"During the fighting a Union sergeant named Driscoll shot a Confederate officer. He later went to see if the man was dead. As the sergeant turned him over, the young man said, 'Father?' He then closed his eyes. He was dead. Driscoll had killed his own son, who had moved to the south before the Civil War started! Minutes later the sergeant's unit was ordered to charge. He was mortally wounded. Both father and son were buried in a single grave on the battlefield, marked only with a rough cross."

Happy Independence Day...

Another Great One Gone

Jeffrey Gutcheon died recently. 

He hasn't been on the quilt horizon in recent years, but this was one of the great pioneers, along with his then-wife Beth, of modern quiltmaking.

An amazing, multi-talented man who's better known in the world for his musical prowess. But we know him for his talent for variations and innovations on traditional quilt design. Oh yes, and those wonderful fabric lines.

He will be missed. You can go to this link to sign his guest book and leave your respects.

GUTCHEON--Jeffrey. Composer, arranger, songwriter, author, designer and architect, died in New York on June 23d following a long struggle with Lewy body dementia. Born in New York City in 1941, Jeffrey was Phi Beta Kappa at Amherst College, then earned a B. Arch from MIT. He played piano and organ in many styles (rock, country, gospel), and performed and recorded with, among others, Gladys Knight, Willie Nelson, Steve Goodman, Ringo Starr, Great Speckled Bird, and Geoff and Maria Muldaur. The album he released with his band Hungry Chuck (Bearsville records, 1972) has achieved cult status, the subject of numerous bootlegs and re-issues. He designed recording studios, most notably the Hit Factory on 48th St. He was one of the great stride piano players of his generation, and the original musical director of Ain't Misbehavin' the first hit non-book musical, which won the Tony award for Best Musical 1978. A polymath, he was also a force in the American art quilt movement, and authored or co-authored several iconic books on the subject. Jeffrey designed and distributed innovative fabric patterns for two decades through his company, Gutcheon Patchworks, and taught quilting and fabric arts to fans around the world. He served as president of the board of the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine and is a member of the Quilters' Hall of Fame. He recorded four albums with the Texas band Lost Country before declining health forced his retirement. He is survived by his son David Gutcheon, his sister Peppi Graves, Ed Graves and his niece Lucy Graves, and is mourned by extended family and friends from the many worlds in which he lived his life. A memorial will be held in New York in the fall, and donations may be made in his honor to The Jeffrey D. Gutcheon 1962 Music Fund by contacting the Amherst College Development Office.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

More Fire News (It's Never Good)

Why is so little being said about 19 firefighters who died recently?

They were members of the 20-member Granite Mountain Hotshots, based in Prescott, AZ, a unit known for its bravery on the front lines. The group had already fought fires in New Mexico and Arizona, and was deployed to fight a fire in Yarnell, AZ.

Apparently they were trapped as the fire curved around, and forced to deploy their fireproof shelters. But the shelters worked at lower temperatures (300 degrees versus 500 degrees), and only for a brief period.

The 20th member survived only because he was moving the unit's truck at the time.

These are brave people whose memory should be celebrated. God bless them, and rest in peace.

     Report's here. (And below)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Summertime Gardening

     We just got two days of longer rain than we've seen for months. A little hail, too, but the ground was too grateful to care. I planted a fresh batch of beans, pumpkins and squash -- the chickens dug up and ate the previous beans, in spite of that garden area being netted. 
     This time, I planted the beans in planting boxes, and positioned them on two sawhorses. (More beans are in a metal tank on top of a stool.) The pumpkins and squash have to live on the ground -- but I planted them in a raised-edge bed, and netted it so the chickens can't climb in.
     I'm hoping for crunchy green beans by the end of August. Two zucchini survived the chickens' ravages (the stinkers), and are getting ready to bloom. Encouraging. Meanwhile:

What would you do with a lifetime supply of  ---? (Hershey's cocoa and chocolate, in this case.)

15 films based on true stories...whose 'true life' characters didn't like the results

The truth about hustling for side jobs. Some real-life practical lessons from Budget Blonde.  (I plan to publish a post soon on my own experiences doing this.)

25 healthy cracker recipes, courtesy of Stacy Makes Cents. (Ummm, the cheez-its look especially tempting.)

The waist-slimming, moneysaving food item Mr. Money Mustache relies on. (Hint: we do too.)

Don't put off dealing with stupid mistakes, especially legal ones. They do not go away by themselves. (A hard lesson learned by Girl Meets Debt. At least she had the guts to admit it, and let us learn from her story.)

Supermoon photos. Incredible.

Seems a good time to bring this up, as well. (Bring up this blog in two windows, and listen to the music while you're looking at moon photos!)

The woman who sold her jacket at a garage sale for $20. So what, right? Unfortunately, she'd hidden a pair of $18,000 diamond earrings, $1500 in cash and other goodies in the jacket, just in case they were ever robbed. Ouch...

Are your teenagers not saving any money from their jobs...and wasting a good share of it on fast food? One columnist's take, via Get Rich Slowly. I disagree with one aspect -- that working at a hamburger place doesn't automatically mean your kid is going to go hogwild on burgers. Daughter #2 worked for years at Taco Bell, and was very careful on what she spent there.
     My other question: who's paying for their college?

Don't worry about how other people spend their money -- concentrate on yourself. (From Financial Samurai) He says, "Do what you think works for you until it doesn't." Interesting...and curious, considering the previous item!

Reader tips: how to shop for a great buy for practically anything. (From Apartment Therapy)

Easy, inexpensive lipped shelves anyone can build. (From Shanty2Chic)

How to paint diamonds on your wood floor. (Southern Hospitaltiy)

And off to the races again. Have a good week.