Monday, December 29, 2014

How Much Do You Really Know about Christmas Carols?

....and other holiday musicopia?

Now's the time to find out.

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Brrrr!

I don't know about your neck of the woods...but it's FREEZING here in Colorado. And snowing. That's good news for Daughter #2's partner Keith. (See him in the 'elf yourself' video below.) He has several snowplowing contracts in the Boulder area, and has been doing very well for himself. On the other hand, he hasn't gotten much sleep.

The dogs stay as close to heat sources as they can -- including Mom. The chickens make a dash for food and a drink first thing in the morning, then spend most of the day pecking and arguing in the coop. (I put in a halved pumpkin, so they've got something nice to occupy their time.) 

We were sick with the current crud pretty much all last week. We went to dinner with friends yesterday, but they (and the Brick) went on to a movie...and I came home. Just couldn't concentrate. 

Feeling better today -- but mostly because I've been parked on the sofa. I felt so ill last week that I didn't even read much. Now THAT'S sick!

Coming this week: a look back at our December cruises -- and some year-end musings. Meanwhile:

Don't miss out on the chance to 'elf yourself!'   It usually goes away early in January. (Here's the Brick family version...and a link to make your own.)

The two-present Christmas. This is an old post I wrote...I'm bringing it up again because we did a three-present Christmas this season, and it worked great. We spent a little more on individual presents (like a spritzer-maker for Daughter #1, binoculars for Keith and a waffle iron for Daughter #2), but we actually spent much less in the long run. And it was a heck of a lot of easier wrapping presents. You might want to try it in 2015, too.

The best DIY projects -- for under 50 bucks. (From Apartment Therapy) Like these cool concrete planters:

Five star chocolate chip cookies. Yes, they're that good.  (From Betty Crocker)

'Crack' potatoes. Because they're also that good. Think bacon, cheese and ranch dressing. (From Plain Chicken)

Bonus turkeys and other stock-ahead ideas. (From Donna Freedman) We just lucked out in this department -- one of my piano-student grandmas lucked into several frozen turkey breasts, and wanted to know if I could use two. Could I!

Don't pay your medical bills.  Really! (From yours truly via Midlife Finance)

Should you go to one of those all-inclusive resorts?  Tight-Fisted Miser did, in's his report.

Celebrity couples who live modestly.  Considering, that is. 


Have a great week...the last of the year!


Sunday, December 28, 2014

2015's Color of the Year

...and the Pantone company has chosen a vivid, rich shade, like last year's fuschia, right?


2015's choice is MARSALA, a shade best described as red-brown.  I guess. (It's the third one down in this photo.)

Pepper Cory explains that it's supposed to be gutsy; in fact, Pantone lauds it as "A naturally robust and earthy wine red, Marsala enriches our minds, bodies, and souls."  She's skeptical.

For that matter, so am I.

Here are previous years:

I still like 2014 best.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Merry After-Christmas

Now here's one of the more interesting holiday traditions I've seen along the years...

A pallet Christmas tree!

(You can make it next year, thanks to Redhead Can Decorate's tutorial on the subject.)

Our (live) Christmas tree was a Hollander's delight this year. Because we'd come home so late, we figured that trees were basically gone. Christmas Eve, I stopped by the local King Soopers, and noticed a sign: all the leftover trees were free. Woo hoo!

The girlies and Keith helped us decorate it. Which was a huge relief, because I've been fighting some kind of cold/flu I apparently picked up on the way home. I even gave the Brick some of it, too. We both trudged through our annual seven fish dish celebration on Christmas Eve, present-wrapping and Christmas dinner. Then a snowstorm hit Colorado...the kids packed up quickly, and headed for home. (Keith has snowplowing contracts in the Boulder area -- income, yes, but responsibilities, too.)

And we collapsed. 

We spent our 33rd anniversary yesterday snuggling on the couch by a crackling fire, watching 'Blue Bloods' episodes, movies, and eating leftover Christmas cookies. I slept a good part of the day, as well.
     Ordered a pizza for supper, and had a few slices with a glass of wine.
Slept in this morning. Other than some clothes washed and folded, and the dishwasher emptied and reloaded periodically, I've been resting today, as well

Feeling better because of it, too.

Now it's on to other Sunday church. (Where we have to sing and play. Again.) Library books. Errands.  A Broncos game.
    And work.

Life goes on, doesn't it...

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas!

We celebrate the birth of our Savior...our Hope. 

May you have a wonderful, restful and above all, meaningful day.

Elf Yourself Strikes Again!

Want a chance to amuse your friends and drive your children crazy?

Put them in an elf-dancing video like this one. (I'd put it straight online, if I could figure out a way to do so...) The figures you're seeing here are Daughters #1 and #2, dogs Charley and Abby, and Daughter #2's partner Keith. (Sorry, big guy -- you chose to hookup with this family!)

Or go straight to the Elf Yourself site, courtesy of Office Max/Office Depot, make your own video, and give your family and friends a thrill. (Don't tell them before you do it...just send it to them. Fast.)

Monday, December 22, 2014

What God Thinks About Our Problems

And He means it, too. I'm so grateful for that.

Monday Stuff on the Way to Other Stuff: Christmas is Coming?

Where have I been the past few weeks?

The Brick and I took two back-to-back Caribbean cruises on MSC, an Italian line, partly as a celebration for our upcoming anniversary this week, partly as Christmas presents to each other...and partly as a Christmas present to The Mama, whose health, since her open-heart surgery, has just not been doing well. She came with us, along with our cousin Joy (referred to as "Joybell" in our family)...and we really had a good time. It has been so push-and-shove for the past months that taking a break was not only welcome, but essential. We were so fortunate to have Daughter #1 willing to house-sit, Charley-and-Abby-sit, and chicken-sit. (No, I didn't say what you thought I said.) That gave us the chance to turn off the cellphones, leave e-mail for a few weeks...and just enjoy.
    The hard part, though, has been trying to figure out what the rest of the world was doing while we were visiting Cozumel, Jamaica and the Bahamas. We saw the Broncos clinch their spot in the playoffs -- strange, but doable. However, it's been very freaky to try and figure out what is going on with the Sydney hostage-taker, the whole Missouri situation, and the two policemen executed in New York City. Why, why, why?
    I am still waiting for Al Sharpton to explain why it's ok to shoot two cops in cold blood. (Update on this -- Sharpton refers to himself -- and others who have called for retribution and revenge -- as "peace-loving." Uh-huh. Sure. You bet. Oh, and he's had threats on his life, too. I keep thinking of the phrase "Be careful what you ask for -- because you may get it." Go here for more comments on the whole sorry mess.) 

As for Christmas, the cruise ship didn't even mention it until last week Saturday, when trees and decorations suddenly blossomed onboard. Christmas music was the stock item on the intercom...but it still seemed strange. We were on vacation -- how could Christmas still be coming, as usual?
    I need to find out -- because the tree's not up, food made or presents wrapped. 

Dirt Farmer Fudge. As a fudge junkie, whose best fudge-making friend is currently in Vietnam teaching for a year...I'm out of luck. I'll definitely have to make some of this for Christmas. And try hard not to eat it all myself. (From Mike McGroarty)

What will the stock market do in 2015? Yours truly weighs in via Midlife Finance.
    You might also enjoy my articles on:
      Choosing the perfect gift

      Celebrating the holidays - with food traditions
     (Incidentally, the Christmas food and holiday food blogs should start up again with new entries, now I'm back. Just give me a couple of days.)

      Seven essentials for your winter wardrobe -- whether you live in cold or warm climates.

      More weird advice that works.

The mystery of Chopin's death...what did the examination of his (pickled in cognac) heart show? Creepy, but interesting.

A group of orcas who got a little too close. Killer whales, that is.

The Kansas City cop who took care of two lost dogs -- even though he didn't have to. The policeman refused to be interviewed about his kind act, saying it was just part of his job. Gutsy.

And to celebrate the season -- Jimmy Kimmel got pranked by the guy he got last year. Serves him right.

Have a great, hopefully restful week.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Here's Hoping...

...That your holidays are progressing nicely.

I know it's early to say it, but --

Merry Christmas!

Missing Painting A 'Stuart Little' Movie

Here's one for your 'Gotta Be Made Up' files.

A Hungarian art historian is watching 'Stuart Little' with his daughter. (You know, the mouse movie.)

He notices a painting over the hearth of the Little family's fireplace -- and realizes it's a treasure that's been missing since the Twenties.

Turns out that it was picked up by an assistant set designer in a shop -- for $500.

Now it's going on the auction block, for considerably more. Like hundreds of thousands of dollars more.

Here's the full story. Or, if you like:

Thursday, December 4, 2014

A New Coffee-Cart Idea!

Funky Junk Interiors took a large wire basket, wheels, and some beat-up boards, and turned them into this...

This would make a nice craft station. Or a side table. Or a...

Go here for full instructions.

Family x 3

Although I've mentioned the Great White Huntress and Nephew's Big Score, I didn't have a photo of the guy who started it all this hunting season --

here he is.

Keith, the Huntress' boyfriend, got a doe with a beautiful shot -- from bow and arrow. (Yes, I know...some people will say, 'gross.' But animals die, so we can eat. He -- and we -- take that responsibility seriously. We don't waste it.)

Now that's talent! 

Here he is, as well, with 'his' doe, plus a few others gotten by friends on the same trip. (Not with bow & arrow, though...) We've already had some of the venison, converted to a curry sausage (which I liked a lot) and also to Italian sausage (which the Brick preferred).  Delicious.

Great job, Keith! 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Let This Jumpstart Your Christmas!

...otherwise known as the Christmas Jumpers...

Now THAT'S how you celebrate!

Another Stolen Valor Incident - This One Caught on Tape

Boy, this really frosts my shorts.

Yet ANOTHER man has been caught wearing a uniform and awards that he didn't earn in the military. 'Stolen valor,' it's called. This guy, saying he was an Army Ranger, was apparently doing it partly to get discounts on Black Friday in the Philly area. Fortunately, he was targeted by a true veteran, Ryan Berk, who taped the conversation.

What's especially interesting -- Mr. Yetman pled guilty in 2003 to impersonating a police officer. Equal Opportunity offender, I guess.

Charges are being considered.

The Brick spent 6 years in the Navy. His father was career Navy; his brothers career Navy and career Air Force.
    My dad did his stint in Germany in the Army. And we both have uncles and cousins who were also in the military.
    It is not an easy job...and leaves marks on you. These people earn every bit of respect for their hard work and sacrifices.

Shame on Mr. Yetman, whose girlfriend is now boo-hooing about how he's lost his job, had a nervous breakdown and is Really Depressed, etc etc. Thank God there are people willing to shut these fakes down. 

Sadly, this fakery has happened before. And it will happen again. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Still Here...Sort Of

Boy, has it been a strange week.
    It wasn't just the Hamster Wheel of Thanksgiving. (You know...figure out where the stuff is [on sale], buy the stuff, defrost the stuff, cook the stuff and serve it, then clean up the stuff, after packaging up leftover stuff...)
    Not long after I posted last week's posts, my laptop decided it wouldn't boot back up. 
    It just hesitated -- for hours on end. 
   The Brick (my wonderful IT man) tried everything. He's been looking up info and trying solutions for the past week now. NOTHING has helped. Finally, he copied everything on a backup...and when he has time, he'll wipe my laptop's hard drive clean, and start over.
    Talk about scary. 
    Any time I would normally be working on 'my' laptop has been taken up with copying, trying various approaches, etc on 'his' laptop. Day after day. That's why you've heard nothing from me all week.
 Add to that a sink that would insist on backing up into the OTHER sink, plus some other assorted emergencies, and it's been a little scary around here. 
    I am so grateful for a partner who stays calm, is brilliant in all sorts of DIY solutions (computers included), and reminds me that:
    This too will pass.
    Meanwhile, we are getting ready for a long trip. The Brickworks offices will be open while we're gone; December is pretty quiet around here, anyways. 
    So...if you don't see many posts for the coming weeks, don't despair. I'll be baaaccck...

Some ways to deal with Thanksgiving leftovers  We're having turkey and fresh salsa burritos tonight, so I can relate. (From the Simple Dollar)

 White trash Christmas mix. Hey, I didn't name it! (From Who Needs A Cape)

A Christmas branch...instead of a tree? This lovely piece from H20Bungalow.

Four apartments under 100 feet -- that work. Including one amazing entry at 78 FEET. Yow. (From Apartment Therapy)

A glass block shower? We've been trying to find an easy way to visually expand our teeny-tiny master bath. Hmmm... (From Interior Design Served -- and a flat in Barcelona, Spain. They use a lot of glass block in this place.)

Gluten-free Christmas sugar cookies? Yup, thanks to Betty Crocker.

Why radical frugality isn't the point -- it's something else. (From Mr. Money Mustache.)

Seven reasons why I love my tiny kitchen. (From Red and Honey)

Seven essentials for a winter wardrobe. And it's not just cold weather wearing, either -- these apply to warm-weather climates, too. (From yours truly via Midlife Finance)

Have a great week.  Christmas is coming!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Making Progress!

I am happy to announce...
     bated breath and drumroll....
that I am almost caught up! 

Okay, maybe an awful lot of boxes, bags and stacks of quilts have to be hauled downstairs and put back into inventory. And maybe it's a big mess down there, too. But thanks to only a threesome quickie and a single (sounds sexy, doesn't it?), the appraisal work should be completely done by noon tomorrow. 
     My staffers won't be in until later in the week; they're not staying long anyways, due to the Thanksgiving holiday. At least I can put some hours into Cleaning Up. (I'm surprised at how pleasurable that sounds.) Meanwhile:

Brining your turkey is supposed to make it moist and tender. I'm going to try it this year, thanks to Panera's recipe, for it and chestnut-mushroom stuffing.  I'll let you know if it works.

Ten things you can do about your debt right now -- even if you can't afford to pay much on it. (From one of my heroes, The Simple Dollar)

30,000 e-mails said to be "lost" suddenly are found. E-mails about the IRS investigating conservative groups, by a former IRS official. Who had 'no idea' when asked about this by Congress. How con-VEEN-yent.

A gawky blue desk becomes a standout.  From this:

To this! (Thanks from The Painted Drawer)


Starting a successful blog -- and keeping it going. An interview with Crystal Paine, the author of that ever-so-versatile Moneysaving Mom. (From ProBlogger)

A very cool idea -- making a wedding bouquet of vintage brooches! (Thanks, Melissa's Antiques, for the idea. She's looking for some, by the way, if you've got 'em.)

A beautiful malachite-look tray...for less than $10 (How-tos from Rain on A Tin Roof)

A very strange interview from Will Smith's kids. Sounds like they need to start jobs, and Get A Life. A couple of shifts at Little Caesar's, and Willow will know exactly what time is!

Salted tea? If you enjoy this, Bigelow's new product should make you very happy. (I have to be careful of this sort of thing: I'm allergic to sea salt. Too much of it -- and it's trendy right now, sadly -- and my throat starts swelling shut.)

Buying a car...or not? From yours truly, via Midlife Finance -- you may also enjoy 20 Ways to Help Your Parents (or Other Older People).

Have a great week. Happy Thanksgiving!

Humph...easy for you to say!

Live Near Colorado Springs? Free Saturday movies in December...

Free Movies at Focus on the Family Welcome Center on Saturdays

The Focus on the Family Welcome Center will be showing free Christmas movies in the theatre on Saturdays during the month of December:
  • November 29th: Muppet Christmas Carol (1hr 26mins) at 10:00 AM and 12:45 PM
  • December 6th: VeggieTales: Saint Nicholas (50mins) and Buck Denver Asks…Why Do We Call It Christmas? (60mins) 10:00 AM only
  • December 13th: Polar Express (1hr 40mins) 10:00 AM and 12:45 PM
  • December 20th: The Nativity Story (1hr 41mins) 10:00AM and 12:45 PM
  • December 27th: Frozen (2hrs 24mins) 10:00 AM and 12:45 PM
Free popcorn and drinks will be served.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Antique Heroes

Superheroes, posed as if they were in 16th century paintings?

Yup...and boy, are they interesting. (Except Ironman here looks like he's wearing a dress, instead of pantaloons. Ewww.)

The full deal here. Hopefully, you want to see more.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

How Are the Chickens?

I'm sure some of you are wondering. 

Well, they're just fine -- in fact, they don't seem to be bothered by the increasing cold at all.

Mostly Black Austrolorps...but here are the bully Rhode Island Reds, getting their share

Although the freezing ground does interfere with all those refreshing dust baths.

They do seem to be easing back on the eggs, which is sad.

Notice the clever feeder-hanger-upper. The Brick came up with that, with leftovers from our roofing pipe.
    We do have a heater in the water, so they can have refreshing sips with their refreshing dustbaths. (This do-it-yourself heater would work, if we didn't have one already.)

We also keep a lightbulb going -- they need at least 12 hours of light to be stimulated to lay regularly -- and a heating bulb.

Now if they'd only kick out some more eggs. C'mon chickies, you can do it!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What We Did in Redwork Class Saturday...

...well, sort of.  

Actually, we did more than this -- but I was so fascinated with what one of my students, Janet Mohler, came up with. She converted the freebie skeleton and silk roses into this little guy --

He was shy, but behaved himself while we were working at redwork.

The rose was stitched right on his collarbone. What an interesting idea for a 'Day of the Dead' piece!

This was also Janet's contribution. It resembles her dog, I'm told. Love this little puppy!

 (It was done in stabstitch, rather than the more usual outline stitch -- very effective.)

Thanks, Janet, for sharing.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: It Can't Be Thanksgiving Yet...

Less than two weeks away. 

How can Thanksgiving be so close? Too much work, too little time. Guess that's life...I really need to get the sleeping bags repaired and hunting gear put away, though, before we have the pitter-patter of little (doggie) feet under the holiday table. (Daughter #1 is a dogsitter, and brings her charges along to join our Charley and Abby.)

Want to own a castle? An 18th century one is up for sale in East Germany. Price: $445,000!

Six creepy still-unexplained phone calls. Also:

Twenty-four weird discoveries. (These are pretty much unexplained, too.)

Long-lived Hollywood marriages. Gives you hope, doesn't it - except sadly, some of these (e.g., Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman) have already broken up.

A shoe store, closed for fifty years. Stock intact. The family who inherited this dusty bonanza is showing it to the public. (Commentators are marveling how the old shoes actually look quite 'modern.' Considering how often trends repeat themselves -- I'm not!)

Dave Brandon, the University of Michigan's athletic director, is no more. And here's why. (They've been terrible in football lately, by the way.)

A letter from the teacher about THAT kid. You know, the one who's 'bad.'

25 hacks to get you through winter more easily. (From Apartment Therapy)

Give thanks in glitter! A Thanksgiving garland that could be adapted for many other occasions. (From Brendid)

24 days of holiday cookies...sign up quick, and you'll have one recipe a day. (Courtesy of Betty Crocker)

A stripped-down Christmas.  (From Donna Freedman)

Have a good week...get out there, and get that turkey!

All in the Family

Six inches of snow and a lot of cold later, we're still here. It's bound to stay chilly for a while. 

Got a photo from sister Lori -- our nephew Kevin got a nice-looking buck!

You go, big guy. 

We're proud of you. So is the Great White Huntress.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Brrr....And Learn A Bit About Scrap Quilts

Boy, it's cold.

Denver broke a record set back in 1916 -- I think they hit 6 degrees. We did worse -- or better, depending on how you look at these things. The Brick noticed the big 0 about midnight, and I'm sure it went colder than that.

The chickens are unimpressed. They have the heatlamp, and their feathers are excellent insulation. Charley Bear's similarly unbothered -- that fur coat of his is really thick.

But for us (and Abby the dog, for that matter)... brrr.

I am speaking tonight at the Colorado Springs Quilt Guild's shindig -- the subject is The Great American Scrap Quilt. They really are the essence of American style. For more, including history and LOTS of examples, come on by to the Colorado Springs Senior Center, at 1514 N. Hancock in the Springs. People start wandering in about 6 p.m., and I should be speaking around 7 p.m. This link will not only take you to the guild's website, but has a map and directions, as well.
    (P.S. I'm also teaching a half-day class on Redwork Saturday morning at Ruth's Stitchery in the Springs. Spots are still open -- just e-mail me here, or contact the guild.) 

Hope to see you there, chilliness or not!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Hey, we here at Brickworks take our position as Passer-Onners of Weird Stuff very seriously.

Enough to mention a recent article about 7 ordinary people who became famous, including this gent -- who turned dancing with a raccoon into an art form. Okay...and I love this Aretha Franklin song, too.  (The 'hillbilly' now has his own Youtube channel. Go figure.)

Now go cut your own rug...

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Let's Remember on Veterans Day...

...all those who've served, both past and present --


If you've been in the military, or are currently serving, t's not too late to take advantage of the many Veteran's Day specials out there -- especiallly for restaurants. Go here for more. The Brick (who put in six years in the Navy) and I went out for a Bloomin' Onion and beer at Outback for lunch this afternoon, and are headed to Red Robin for supper.

An Ode to Stephen King

I confess it...I love Stephen King.

Ok, maybe not luuuv. (No worries for the Brick, who is firmly stitched into my heart of hearts.) But ever since I wandered into The Stand decades ago, I have been in awe of this man, who can scare the bejeebers out of you one moment, and make you want to laugh or weep the next.

King spent some time in Colorado at one point -- which The Stand and his book Misery reflect. I began reading Misery at the time Daughter #1 was born, without realizing that Annie Wilkes, the killer nurse, was killing babies at Boulder Community Hospital.
   In Boulder.
   Where Daughter #1 drew her first breath.


King went through a lot of hard times as a kid, something covered unflinchingly in his sterling book On Writing. (One of the most honest and realistic 'how to write well' books I've ever read, by the way.) He talks a lot about being an unpublished and rejected writer too, something that gives his fellow writers added resolve. (Including submitting a story that was rejected before he became well-known...retooling it slightly...and having it magically - and quickly- accepted!)

Some of his books end far too quickly - as if the maximum pages are looming, and the editor just cuts the flow off. And he tends to enjoy being a potty mouth a bit too much for my taste. (After a while, the word 'fuck' and its endless variations lose all shock value, and just tend to be obnoxious.) 

   But his characters -- oh my. They live in my imagination as strongly as King himself.

    My favorite books:

Danse Macabre  (especially good if you want to know why King does what he does)
The Stand  (I went back and reread this after the Ebola scare became national news)
The Dead Zone
Misery (especially good, if you are also a writer -- Hemingway would have loved this one)
Needful Things (a lot about whether getting what you want is really that good for you)
Four Past Midnight (gives you a whole new approach to airports and libraries)
The Long Walk (try not to think of this while you're watching the Hunger Games movies)
The Dome (until its incredibly stupid ending)
11/22/63  (also not thrilled with its ending, but up til then...)
On Writing (if you want to know how he does it...and how its connected to his past)

His short story collections are interesting, if somewhat uneven. Some are memorable -- some seemingly calculated on the schlock factor. Kind of like the little boy whose great aim in life is to gross everyone out.

You'll find his full library here...make your choice!

Movies based on his books are also all over the place, quality-wise. And opinions vary.  I was intrigued by The Mist (wonderful, until its ridiculous ending) and The Stand (the one with Gary Sinise). Ed Harris was perfect as the sheriff in Needful Things -- though I thought the movie was generally too frantic. And The Shining? In spite of the hype, it doesn't have anything to do with Colorado. (Really.) Some interesting ideas...but all the whining! (And not just by Shelley Duvall, either.)
     I actually liked Secret Window, too, though many think it one of Johnny Depp's sillier movies. And the Shawshank Redemption? One of my favorites...but not typical of a King horror flick. (Unless you have bad dreams about crawling through a sewer during a thunderstorm.) It was a box office flop, but has since gained a lot of respect.

It's fun to spot King in movies made on his books. He has a habit of appearing in bit parts, a la Alfred Hitchcock - his hick goofus in Creepshow was actually quite funny. But most of the time, I shy away from watching a movie based on his work...I was far too terrified by Misery to take a chance on watching the movie!

    One warning: Run screaming from any any of the Children of the Corn flicks, and not because of the terror factor. You'll regret it. The original Corn (in more ways than one) was one of the few movies I was actually rooting for the hero and heroine to get mowed down/chewed up. Anyone that irritating deserves to die. In Movieland, at least.

King is up to some new stuff, including a musical (???) with John Mellencamp. He has a tendency to show up in movies and miniseries based on his books - I wonder if he insisted on being in the musical, as well? (He does play in a band called The Remainders, made up of authors who are Famous for Something Else, including Amy Tan and Dave Barry.)

Find out more about him here, too.  
Plus an interview where he explains the inspiration for Cujo...and other books.

   May you keep writing for a long time to come. 

"I’ve always thought that the sort of book that I do—and I’ve got enough ego to think that every novelist should do this—should be a kind of personal assault. It ought to be somebody lunging right across the table and grabbing you and messing you up. It should get in your face...I mean, if I get a letter from somebody saying, I couldn’t eat my dinner, my attitude is, Terrific! "
                              -- Stephen King 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Brrrr

The sky is gray, the air (sort of) warm...and strangely quiet. We've got a big storm and incredibly low temps right on the horizon -- and we're not the only ones.

The first bitcoin securities fraud case is starting trial... for a Texas man. Why is this important? Take a look at an article yours truly wrote back in July for Midlife Finance.

A cool quarter-million, for Hemingway's typewriter. (Guess Angelina Jolie's got money to burn, when it comes to her hubby Brad...)

201 frugal birthday gift ideas. These could come in handy for the upcoming holidays, too. (From One Cent At A Time)

Amazing appetizers. A whole range, from deviled eggs to eggrolls. Another something that might just come in handy for the holidays. (From Who Needs A Cape. I know -- I've been profiling her a lot lately, but she has Good Stuff.)

How to make a full-time income by blogging.  (From the Humbled Homemaker)

The power of the coin jar. An old post, but helpful, nonetheless. (From Get Rich Slowly)

Fifty intriguing places to see in Great Britain. Someday...

Whole wheat sourdough tortillas. These are easier to make than you would think -- and the recipe lets you know exactly what you're putting in them (and in your belly, incidentally. From Prairie Homestead)

Another goodie for your Bigfoot files -- a BF that doesn't like gunfire or helicopters! This one was caught totally unaware by the camera. So was the family who 'captured' it, to their mutual surprise. Watch the snowfield to the right, in the background...and look for movement.

A Halloween party - in photos. This looks like it was such fun. (From Chicken Blog)

Lessons learned from the recent election. From yours truly, via Midlife Finance.  I'm really glad the election is over for another year, though I miss my partner Rhonda. (Hope you're feeling better, friend.)

Have a great week.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

It's Official...

Our town, Castle Rock, Colorado, is now one of the best places to live in the U.S., according to Money Magazine's 2014 poll!

It's not the top one -- that's been awarded to McKinney, Texas --
but Castle Rock's #4. Here's what Money says:

Castle Rock, c.1900...
Castle Rock has come a long way from its quarry-town roots. The city is growing at a rapid clip, with a population that has more than tripled in the past 15 years...

Perhaps the biggest recent addition is the Castle Rock Adventist Hospital, which opened a year ago, bringing specialists and nearly 500 jobs to town. This fall the city will unveil a new indoor athletic complex, taking some pressure off the lone recreation center. And there’s more to come, with plans underway for a new mixed-use development. All the building has created congestion, but residents hope that a new two-mile road and freeway on-ramp will ease traffic when it’s finished in 2016.
There are some aspects of Castle Rock that haven’t changed. The downtown remains the heart of the city, lined with locally owned restaurants and spe­cialty stores. The area also hosts community events, including a holiday Starlighting festival, when a giant star is lit on the town’s namesake rock formation.  (That's coming up soon, after Thanksgiving. Learn more about the Star here.)

See the star? It seems to float in the sky at & blue bulbs when the Broncos are in the Superbowl

The school district here is one of the best in the state [cool to hear them say this -- the Brick works for Douglas County Schools!], and the two charter schools garner rave reviews from parents. Residents are also pleased by the home prices; a three-bedroom starts around $250,000.

Then there’s Colorado’s big selling point: the great outdoors. Castle Rock has 5,000-plus acres of open space, and the Rockies are nearby...

Go here for the full skinny. (More here, too.)But don't plan to move, ok? The same urge that brought people in is also the reason why we live on a hill above Home Depot now.
   (When we moved here some 12-plus years ago, it was a horse pasture. I miss the horses, not the hardware.)

See Castle Rock via live cam here.

Friday, November 7, 2014

How Did We Make It This Far?

I saw a recent reference to this essay on Punch Debt in the Face's blog. I'm not sure I agree with all of it -- there's still a fair amount of whining on some of these items, this writer likes to admit it or not. But it does give you something to think about.

It's been making the rounds of the Internet. Pass it on, if you want...

Somehow we survived!!!
Looking back, it's hard to believe that we have lived as long as we have...
As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags. Riding in the back of a pickup truck on a warm day was always a special treat.
Our baby cribs were covered with bright colored lead-based paint.
We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors, or cabinets, and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets. (Not to mention hitchhiking to town as a young kid!)
We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle. Horrors.
We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then rode down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into
the bushes a few times we learned to solve the problem.

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. No one was able to reach us all day.
No cell phones. Unthinkable.
We played dodgeball and sometimes the ball would really hurt. We got cut and broke bones and broke teeth and there were no law suits from these
accidents. They were accidents. No one was to blame but us. Remember accidents?

We had fights and punched each other and got black and blue and learned to get over it.
We ate cupcakes, bread and butter, and drank sugar soda but we were never overweight ... we were always outside playing.
We shared one grape soda with four friends, from one bottle and no one died from this?
We did not have Playstations, Nintendo 64, X Boxes, video games at all, 99 channels on cable, video tape movies, surround sound, personal cellular phones, Personal Computers, internet chat rooms, ... we had friends. We went outside and found them.
We rode bikes or walked to a friend's home and knocked on the door, or rung the bell or just walked in and talked to them.
Imagine such a thing. Without asking a parent! By ourselves! Out there in the cold cruel world! Without a guardian. How did we do it?
We made up games with sticks and tennis balls and ate worms and although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes, nor did
the worms live inside us forever.

We ate penny candy, swallowed bubblegum -and our intestines did not stick together because of it.
Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment.
Some students weren't as smart as others so they failed a grade and were held back to repeat the same grade ... Horrors. Tests were not adjusted
for any reason.

Our actions were our own. Consequences were expected. No one to hide behind. The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke a law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law, imagine that!
This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers and problem solvers and inventors, ever. The past 50 years has been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.
We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility,! and we learned how to deal with it all. And you're one of them. Congratulations!
Please pass this on to others that have had the luck to grow up as kids, before lawyers and government regulated our lives. For our own good, right?