Friday, January 31, 2014

Beans, Beans, the Musical Fruit

This is a selection from the 'Bare Bones Meals' series from my other blog, Holiday Goodies. You'll find more ideas and recipes there for saving money this winter...

Any budgeteer will tell you how helpful beans are to a well-rounded diet. Not only are they low-fat and reasonably high in protein -- they're easy to store, cook, and blend well with a variety of foods, too.

A favorite here in Colorado: anasazi beans. These flavorful beans have a strange history. One story has them being found in Anasazi ruin sites by archeologists sometime in the 1950s; another says that they were growing wild near the ruins, and found by pioneer homesteaders. (Or both.)
     Whatever their origins, they have another positive: they're less apt to cause those gaseous emissions that bean-eating may (ahem) influence. (Other options are here.)

Anasazis -- from
 A wide variety of bean types are out there, and most can be used successfully in the following recipes. The only ones I wouldn't recommend -- black beans, which have their own genre of recipes.(We'll cover them later, anyways.)

I grew up with Michigan Northern beans -- and a very basic soup that the Mama still serves on snowy days.


1 pound (or 2 cups) northern beans, washed
1/2 cup chopped onion
at least 8 cups water (add more, if needed)

Cook at a low simmer, at least 5-8 hours. (Crockpots are perfect for this.) Salt and pepper to taste.

That's it! As a kid, I always ate this with a tablespoon or two of ketchup stirred in. It can take on any veggie you want to add, as well, including carrots, kale, tomatoes...or the items in the soup below. has a legislative version of Northern Bean soup -- it's been a favorite for decades in the U.S. Capitol Hill cafeteria. This one's great for using up leftover ham, as well -- just substitute a cup of chopped ham for the bone.


  • 1 pound dried navy beans or great northern beans, washed and drained
  • 1 meaty ham bone or 2 smoked ham hocks
  • 3 medium potatoes, cooked and mashed
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped celery
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper


Cover beans with water and bring to a boil; boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 1 to 2 hours. Drain bean liquid into a bowl; measure and add enough water or broth to make 5 quarts; pour back into beans. Bring beans to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 2 hours, or until beans are very tender. Add ham bone, potatoes, onions, celery, parsley, and garlic, and continue to simmer for another hour. Remove ham bone and cut up meat; return to soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Makes about 2 gallons of soup.

* * * * * * * * * * * *
Another bean option: Baked Beans! This dish has fed New Englanders for centuries. It was a special favorite for weekends -- the beanpot could be started in the banked ashes of Saturday night's fire, then finished off the next day for Sunday's noon meal. For housewives whose religion denoted "no cooking/i.e., 'work' on Sunday," it was a godsend.

This version of the traditional dish comes from Amy Dacyczyn's Tightwad Gazette, but is very similar to my own grandma's heirloom recipe. (Grandma's family, the Browns, originally hailed from Peterborough, NH.) Try it for Saturday night supper, with a slice of steamed brown bread.


2 pounds (4 cups) dried beans
     (Grandma used Northerns for this, but I substitute Anasazis. Amy uses Jacob's Cattle beans)
1 teaspoon soda
1 medium onion, quartered
1/2 pound bacon or salt pork, chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar (omit this if you don't care for a sweeter bean - Grandma did)
1/2 - 2/3 cup dark molasses
2  teaspoons dry mustard   (or a tablespoon of coarse-ground wet mustard)
1 teaspoon salt

Soak beans overnight in cold water; next morning, parboil them in water (soda added) until skin peels back when gently blowing on a bean.
     Put the onion and pork in a bean pot or casserole dish; mix in beans. 
     Mix the rest in a pint of water to make a sauce, then also mix into the beans.

Bake at 300 degrees for at least 6 hours -- or in the crockpot on low for 6-8 hours. Makes the equivalent of 6 large cans of baked beans, enough to serve 8-10 people.


Unless you're serving a regiment, you'll have baked bean leftovers. They're delicious reheated by themselves, mixed with hot dogs or sausage, or spooned hot and steaming over toast. Convert them into Sloppy Joes, or into this soup, which Amy Dacyczyn's mom served.


2 cups baked beans (or substitute a large can of pork & beans, if you don't feel much like cooking)
1 8 oz. can stewed or canned tomatoes
1 celery stalk with leaves
1 onion

Blenderize all ingredients, and simmer 20 min. (This is Amy's way, but I'd rather chop the celery and onion, then serve it chunky-style.) Serve with crusty bread for 'dunkin;' makes 4 servings.

Lebkuchen -- At A Bargain!

I don't know if I want to tell you this or not...but Lebkuchen gift boxes are going for insanely low price right now.

Schmidt, by far the best maker of this mildly spicy, gingerbread-like goodie, has a 'Large Festive' box that they normally sell on Amazon for $80 -- for $25! Even with the shipping, you're getting a steal of a deal on these -- nearly 7 pounds of real traditional German cookies and confections -- 13 packages worth.

The 'Pure' box is nothing but Lebkuchen...also a terrific buy, for $20. (The 'Crunch' box is an even better buy -- down to $15.95.) You can even get a pretty little tin box (red, for Valentine's Day) for less than $10. Zowie.

Quantities are limited, so if you're interested, don't hesitate. I've been a big fan of these soft, slightly crunchy cookies ever since I had one, standing up at a Nuremberg coffee cafe, back in college days. Bliss.

Maybe passing the word will help keep me from buying more. I've been ordering a package here, a package there as the prices have gone down -- for Valentine's Day, for upcoming birthdays and special events, for general munching...the Brick and I can't get enough of these wonderful cookies.

You'll feel the same way, too.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Cleaning Out the Pantry

One of January's prime traditions has been the Pantry Challenge.

Simply put, you try hard to cook only from the food you have on hand, either in the pantry, or in the refrigerator and freezer. There are limited exceptions: mostly in the dairy/eggs department.

I can't figure out for certain who began this  -- but the blogger at Life with Mom and Good Cheap Eats seems to be the main instigator at present. (Though others, including yours truly, have done it in past years.)  She just got done with two weeks worth of living on the bare minimum.

I haven't been as passionate about following it as I usually do, thanks to taking care of Daughter #1 while her shoulder mends. But I have:

*Resolved to USE UP leftovers, rather than just slinging them to the chickens. (Unless the food wasn't that good the first time around -- then I 'donate' it with a clear conscience.)

*Scrubbed out both the vegetable and meat/cheese drawers, thrown the spoiled stuff to the chickies, and reapportioned things we can still use. 

*Made a big batch of applesauce from the apples in the crisper, then chopped the surviving vegetables into strips or chunks, for stirfry and relish trays. Some went into Creole-style jambalya, too. (Recipe's coming soon.)

*Put the remaining Christmas candy bars and cookies in the freezer, promising myself we'll only take them out a few at a time.  (Our bulging waistlines say we've had enough sweets for a while.)

*Stacked and put away canned goods and dry stuff -- after I double-checked what were in the back rows, or needed to be used up.

*Checked and pulled packages of meat and fish from the freezer at the beginning of the week, so I plan better what to use during the week. This has worked especially well. The meat thaws slowly in the refrigerator -- and it's ready whenever needed, as long as I remember to use it. (Put it toward the front!) It's started creating bare spaces in the freezer, too.

There have been two other motivators:

*A friend at church told us about not realizing that the power cord to his freezer had gone bad. Result: nearly $5000 of food spoiled, by the time he checked. What would I do, if our freezer followed suit?

*We've had a few snowstorms, with more scheduled. (Not as many as you in the East...but enough.) It's not unusual for power to go out -- then [see above].

*That same weather has made it tough to shop. (Plus I just don't feel much like it right now. The effects from flu are still draining off what strength I've got.)

 Not to mention knowing that property taxes, and some unexpected bills, are coming due soon...

I HATE wasting food. Every time I scooped out a mushy pepper from the crisper, or scraped out some celery, I felt like I'd dumped a handful of change in the trash. Hopefully having everything clean and visible will solve this nicely.
    It helps to also have inspirations like this suggestion -- plus this one -- on dishes to cook just from pantry shelf items. Posting foods for the Bare Bones Meal series on Holiday Goodies has been an inspiration, too.(If you go there tonight, you'll find the latest -- on using up leftovers. Visit in coming days, and you'll see even more suggestions. Like a favorite from my backpacking days:


3 tablespoons (or a small packet) of onion soup mix
1 small can turkey breast
1 can green beans
1 small can mushrooms

Dump everything in a pot, along with 6 cups of water. Bring to a simmer, let cook for 10 minutes. Add more water, if soup is too salty. Serve with crackers or bread and cheese.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


What...other things are important in your life right now?

Not for Coloradoans -- we're waiting for the Broncos to show their stuff at the Super Bowl!

Denver's City and County Building is stylin' in orange and blue...other places, too. (See them here, as well.) 
    They're calling it "Orange Up!" Which is pretty silly...but hey, if it gets you in the Orange Crush-in spirit, who am I to argue...

And so is Castle Rock's star. Usually it's just in white lights for Christmas, and turned off right after the Stock Show. We get a good view of the's just across the valley from our house.

And in honor of it all, the latest NFL More Bad Lip Readings Video:

Go Broncos!!!

Monday (Er, Tuesday) Stuff on the Way to Other Stuff: I'm Still Here

After hearing all about the rest of the country's white stuff, we finally got some of our own. Not a lot -- maybe eight inches or so -- but it gets so dry around here in Colorado that every bit of moisture is welcome. 
    It's probably part of the fallout from hovering over Daughter #1 as she recovers from shoulder surgery...but I am a day late and dollar behind everything, feels like. Some things need to get finished today, as well -- but first, I need to pick her up from class and take her to a doctor's appointment. What am I griping about...she's the one who has to do everything one-armed.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis won a Grammy (Best Rap Song) for their "Thrift Shop" video! Sure, it's vulgar. But it's also funny, and fits right in with the 'trolling for bargains' viewpoint. Go see:

Why it's okay NOT to be Superwoman. (From Money Saving Mom)

When bad things happen -- do you have enough in your emergency fund to cover it? (From My Money Design)

If these literary masterpieces/collections had only survived. (Or perhaps existed in the first place...I'm not so sure some ever did.) From

Could Vermeer have used a camera obscura to help construct his famous paintings? 

A 20-year-old code mystery is solved...a grandmother's secret messages are finally revealed.

Money lessons learned....we all need them. (From Get Rich Slowly)

Twenty crimes caught on Google Street View. (I knew that app was up to no good!)

Could you thrive in 295 sq. ft of living space? Evan does it...beautifully.

 (Thanks, Apartment Therapy.) While you're there, check on an intriguing way to put in a pegboard shelving system:  
    A how-to-make-it tutorial's included, too.

And from yours truly:  Index funds, the plodding moneymaker (Midlife Finance); the value of coffee with friends (Penny Thots)...and the easiest and most effective investment rule you'll ever need (also from Penny Thots).

I agree with John Hartford:  I may not be the brightest bulb on the post, but at least...

Have a good week.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Bones, bones, bones

It's been quiet here at the Brick house. Daughter's shoulder surgery was Monday, and she's spent the rest of the week sleeping upright (try doing that, and getting quality sleep, if you're not used to it!), reading a lot, and doing everything very slowly. Poor girlie.
     Which means I also do everything slowly. Including posting, washing dishes, and schlepping Daughter about. She went to class Friday morning, and it practically cleared her out -- she was exhausted this morning. Tired down to the bones...
     Me too. I still am not completely over the effects of this flu.

Speaking of bones:

Did you realize that soldiers' bones from long-past wars are still turning up today? Civil War military bones (identified primarily by the musket balls and period buttons found with the skeletons) have turned up especially around the edges of Gettysburg. (Which was a much larger battle than I ever realized -- the actual park is a good deal smaller than the actual battlefield.) Go here for a very interesting report.
    (Did you realize that the last living Civil War widow died not that long ago, in 2004? Alberta  married William Martin when he was 81, and she was 21. After five years of marriage and a son, he died -- and she married his grandson, who was much closer to her age. That marriage lasted for 50-some years.
     'Miz Alberta' died at age 97 or 94, depending on which news source you ask.) 

Italian military bodies from WWI have been turning up in glaciers, as well, as they melted back in recent years. Fascinating -- it's easy to forget that we live on the topmost layer of history, and occasionally it peels back.

Thursday, January 23, 2014


Want to win up to five free Snickers bars?

Mars has a new contest up to celebrate the Superbowl. (Which I will actually watch this year, since the best team in the world -- the Broncos -- are playing.)

Go here for more info.   Other than typing info, that's about it. (Took me maybe 20 seconds. And I won a single!) You can even enter every day for a while...

Happy 'Bounty' Day!

Know what today is?

If you lived on Pitcairn Island, you would.

It's the annual celebration of the day Fletcher Christian and his fellow mutineers, along with their Tahitian male and female companions, torched their ship, after salvaging everything they could, then let her sink.

Yep, that Fletcher Christian of "Mutiny on the Bounty."

We don't know for sure what he looked like -- no drawings, after all. But he was described as being dark with darker skin. (And, on a romantic note, with very sweaty hands, according to his former boss, William Bligh.)

     But probably not like Clark Gable.

The mutiny happened on April 28, 1789 on the English royal warship HMS Bounty. Why did it happen? Well, it depends on which source you go with. According to the commander, William Bligh, it was South Seas indolence, laissez faire and S-E-X. According to the mutineers, it was because Bligh treated everyone so badly.

     My guess: it was both.

At any rate, the mutineers were successful -- and forced Bligh and his men (some had to be left behind, for lack of room) into a small 23-foot boat. Amazingly, they reached land 47 long, tortuous days later.

Bligh doesn't lookt too thrilled about it, either

After returning to Tahiti, and trying to settle (unsuccessfully) on other islands, Fletcher Christian, along with eight sailors, 6 Tahitian men and 18 women, plus a baby, found Pitcairn Island on Jan. 15, 1790. They burned the boat on the 23rd. Even today, some of the Bounty's fittings (particularly its ballast stones) are visible through the clear water of the island.

Christian didn't hang around too long. Some accounts have him murdered in an island slugfest for power in 1793; others say he took the ship's extra boat (a launch) and made it to England. (One of his old friends swore he saw Christian on a city street there decades later -- though Christian took to his heels when recognized.) At any rate, he, as well as all but one of the mutineers, was gone by the time the Topaz pulled into Pitcairn's harbor in 1808. (The sailors who stayed on Haiti didn't do as well -- they were picked up in 1790 by the search ship Pandora, sent for just that purpose, and brought back to England for trial.)

For the full report, visit here.  

Fletcher Christian still has descendants on the island -- in fact, one of his umpteen-great-grandsons, Tom Christian, just died in 2013.

Thanks to Wikipedia for these photos and drawings

So... Happy 'Bounty' Day! Feel free to sink a ship or two to celebrate.

A replica of the Bounty - and a nice one, at that

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Struck by Lightning

The statue of Jesus on a hill overlooking Rio de Janeiro --
     it got struck by lightning.

This happens a fair amount -- but hardly ever when someone is there to capture the event in photos.


The statue lost a finger, but that will soon be repaired.

Others have been struck by lightning, including some famous people -- and this guy, who received a lightning bolt SEVEN TIMES. It's more common than you think -- about 75 people die each year from lightning, according to, with another 400 or so surviving the hit. Handy tip: Do NOT talk on your cellphone out in the open while a storm's brewing. In fact, don't hang out in the open at all...unless you want to be on the next 'I survived' list. 

    If you're lucky, that is.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Embroidered and Embellished

Something amazing just happened to me. 

     When you're a writer, and write about traditional materials and methods (like my Hanky Panky book), it's easy to copy -- or be copied. After all, others were writing about handkerchiefs and embroidery and quilting -- and certainly stitching them into quilts and embroidered projects -- decades before you were born.

     I've even seen the exact Hanky Panky method copied by another writer -- who then marketed it as hers. (Who knows - she may have come up with it separately. I know there are methods in my upcoming sequel, Hanky Panky with A Flourish, that I thought I'd invented -- until I saw them mentioned in someone else's work.)  

Why am I yammering on about this?

Because Christen Brown, another writer and quilting teacher, published a wonderful book on the needlearts called Embroidered and Embellished.

   It's full of detailed stitch diagrams, plus helpful ways to combine these with vintage materials (including handkerchiefs!) in interesting ways.
    A beautiful book -- beautifully handled.

Christen will be teaching for the Road to California conference soon...and her class is called Hanky Panky.

     Here's where I come in.

Not only did she buy my book (to make sure she wasn't plagiarizing me), but she apologized for using 'my' name. Which isn't -- 'hanky panky' has been used for decades way before I came along, including a 1912  musical. (And a later movie.) Lots of songs, including this sheet music on Ebay:

What a classy, classy thing to do.

Take a look at Christen's book through the link -- and if you're headed to Road to California, think about taking her class. It looks wonderful.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Monday Stuff on the Way to Other Stuff: Go Broncos!

Hard to believe. Our beloved Broncos, actually headed for the Super Bowl?!?
     It's true.
Coloradoans are wandering around in a daze.

Meanwhile, I've spent the past few hours sitting in the waiting room while Daughter #1 has shoulder surgery. Ever since she was little, she's had trouble with her shoulders dislocating. Turns out she has what the doctor calls "loose joints." He said it was hereditary -- then I remembered that I have trouble sometimes with my ankles going out. My guess -- she got it from me, not the Brick. 
     It's considered easy surgery now -- even out-patient. Nonetheless, she'll be spending the week with us, so we can keep an eye on her while I do Mom Stuff: chicken noodle soup, snuggling, reading aloud to her. It's a rare opportunity, now that she's 27 and very much has her own life. 

Ron Burgundy interviews Peyton Manning. (Who, if your life doesn't revolve around Colorado football, you may not know is the Broncos number-one quarterback.)  I read this in print in the ESPN magazine, and it's very, very funny. (In fact, I was snorting out loud in the waiting room. Embarrassing...shame on you, Ron, for making me do it!)

Ten Odd Things Found From WWII. (And some of these were discovered quite recently, too.) Case in point: barrels of... lard??

Other unexpected discoveries, by people who were (more or less) doing something else at the time.

How frugal are you...really? Take the Frugal Test, and find out.

Sideways moves to earn more money at your regular job. From a guest poster at Make Money Your Way.

The easiest (and most effective) investment rule you'll ever need. From yours truly, via Penny Thots. 

French Bread Pizza - quick, easy and delicious. it's a great budget meal, too!  (From Who Needs A Cape)

Tenacity vs. talent - which is going to get you further? (From More Than Money)

The top ten improvised movie scenes. Some memorable ones here.

Immunity Soup -- when you're coming down with a cold, or just need a jolt. (From 101 Cookbooks)

Home remodeling -- when you don't want to (or can't afford to. From a staffer at Get Rich Slowly.

A simple homemade tub and tile cleaner -- that WORKS. (From Money Saving Mom)

The Blessings of Poverty -- an interesting new book on frugal living and wise choices, written by a cousin, Diane Boone. (From yours truly, via Penny Thots.)

Wonder what happened to the Chinese Noah who sold everything, and built an ark for himself and his family? (He was convinced the world would be flooded when it all ended in Dec. 2012.) Anyone got an update on this? 

Getting the best price on a cruise. Also from yours truly via Midlife Finance. And if you're thinking about traveling:

A new twist on the B&B idea -- renovate trailers, and park them in your backyard! If you're headed to California anytime soon, these rent REALLY cheap - $50-60/day.

 Don't forget about my Bare Bones meal series, running on another blog, Holiday Goodies.These ideas should have you save some bucks to pay off those holiday bills.

Have a great week.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Feeling Broke?

My other food blog, Holiday Goodies, is starting a series on Bare Bones Meals: a good way to use up what you've got, and save a few bucks for January bills, as well.

You might enjoy our series, some time back, on Flat Broke Foods, as well, while this new one's getting started.

Now go forth and cook...

Thursday, January 16, 2014

It's Back...

I just love the flu. 

It's not as bad as last week...but I don't have enough stamina to swing a cat. Or a dog. Or a chicken.

Guess that means that the house continues to fairly messy condition, until I get some strength up. This MUST be dealt with -- Daughter #1 is having shoulder surgery on Monday, and she needs a place to stay (and a mom to take care of her) all next week.

I need to be feeling better, so I can do this.

Speaking of moms, this one came through -- if you're a fan of the Bohemian Rhapsody, plus all the things we moms are required to do, say and schlep -- well, you can relate. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

No Dog Better Mess With Me!

And while you're in the mood, 52 very funny "animal fails." One of them is friend Ami Simms' dog Scooter, who doesn't bother to get up -- for anything. Here he is, by himself...

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Giant Squid - Yow!

Did you hear about the giant squid (more than 13 feet long!) a Japanese fisherman recently hauled up in his net? 

What a surprise -- the poor guy was actually fishing for yellowtails, so it must have been quite a shock. Unlike the Rick Dyer Fairytale Hour, this one actually seems to be for real.

Woke up to snow and clouds...but it fits the day. I finally got the Christmas tree dragged out to the garden. (Memo to self: don't do this next year in your robe, because the neighbors WILL show up. Or you'll fall down. Or both.) 
     More cleaning, picking up and ironing to do -- and appraisal work. Then I will give myself permission to SEW.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Monday Stuff on the Way to Other Stuff: Go Broncos!

      To our happy surprise, the Broncos actually beat the San Diego Chargers last night! On to next week...and the Patriots. Who will not be pushovers, I'm sure. Memo to the commentators, who spent yesterday's game praising the Chargers (and grudgingly admitting, at finish, that the Broncos had actually won): Pay attention, guys. The Broncos might actually win the game against the Patriots, too! 

Frigid scenes from Chicago. (Plus a news story on a peacock who escaped from the petting zoo...and froze to death. Poor guy.)

Ice boulders are washing up on the shores of the Great Lakes. (Which are actually freezing over -- this doesn't happen often, but it's not unheard-of.)

Six treasures found by amateurs.  One was discovered because the guys were searching for a lost hammer! I especially liked this site for the up-close photos. For more inspiration, go to this list of the Top Ten Incredible Treasure Troves. (Haven't heard of some of these before.) And along the same track...

A man goes for a walk in Great Britain -- and finds more than $100,000 swirling on top of the river he and his dog are strolling by. Yow. Don't stop there, though. Take a look at the 'Unearthed' slideshow on the same page for more incredible finds. including a WWII carrier pigeon (with message still attached to a skeletal leg) found in a chimney; a Vietnam soldier's letters finally delivered; gold coins; a Really Early Viking tunic unearthed in a glacier; and much more.

Frugal Babe finds her own treasure - at the local thrift store. A high-end sweater for $6? That's the kind of math I like. 

California Barley Bowl...doesn't this look crisp and refreshing. (Although I'd probably use couscous, instead -- had too many servings of Campbell's beef and vegetable soup (with barley) as a kid, to be a big fan. (Thanks, 101 Cookbooks)

Donna Freedman feels like a (sorta) poor relation. Just temporary...we all go through this.

Lucy the beagle who swiped chicken nuggets -- don't show this to your dogs!

The carcass(es?) of two conjoined whales -- found in Mexico. The first...

Remember that small Renoir painting, found at a swap meet? The judge ordered it returned to the museum it was stolen from.

Dancing to Pharrell Williams...while you're stationed in Afghanistan.
     Get down!... and have a great week.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Bigfoot News - Is There Finally A Body?

Rick Dyer says he shot Bigfoot. 

Uh-huh. And this, according to Dyer, is what he looks like...

(If you're thinking some weird character from Lord of the Rings, you're in good company.)

According to Dyer, he got Mr. Sasquatch during a camping trip. This blurry, jerky video is supposed to prove it:

Dyer says that DNA and other tests are being processed right now on the body...and he'll show it to the world in mid-April.
    (One of my quilting students said, "That gives him time to hide it in ice." (A la the Minnesota Iceman,, no doubt.)

     Bear in mind: this isn't the first time Dyer's claimed to have a Bigfoot body on hand. Back in 2008, he and a friend just happened to 'find' a BF carcass, he said. They showed photos, but wouldn't let people see the actual body. Samples submitted came back as part opossum and part human -- at which point, the men promptly announced the samples had been contaminated.
     They were supposed to announce results of the autopsy on the body...but I could find nothing online that suggested that info ever happened. (They later admitted the whole thing was a hoax, "because everyone knows Bigfoot don't exist." That's a direct quote from Rick himself.)

     Double uh-huh.

I triple dog-dare ya, Rick. Don't wait until April -- show us now what ya got!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Visiting Ruby McKim...And An Unexpected Visitor

I had a great time this past Wednesday night at the Common Threads Quilt Club in Parker, CO...thanks, friends!

First, though, I spent the afternoon appraising at High Prairie Quilts in Parker. Jeanie, the owner, has a wide array of bolts, tools and patterns, including everything from calicoes to vintage looks to batiks. (Yes, of course I bought some fabric! I am a quilter, after all...)
     The shop is full of ideas, including quilt samples (for classes and kits) ranging around the shop's perimeter, hung high on the wall. Some real beauties, too.

What's your pleasure,'ll find it here!
We'd finished up the appraising, and Judi, who was assisting me, left. I stepped to the cash register to talk to Gina and pay for my stuff. Then an older lady decided to visit the shop --

      Through the front door.

      In her pickup truck.


My first thought was that an earthquake had struck. The next was that the roof fell in. We rushed out to find the lady, sitting perfectly still, in her truck with the motor still running. The doors to the classroom -- the same room I and Judi had been in, barely 20 min. before -- were gone. Shoot, the FRAME to the doors was gone. A huge gaping hole took their place.
     All I could think was, "Thank God." If we had been in there, Judi would definitely have been hit. (Me too, probably.) If the lady had gone through the other pair of glass doors instead, she would have taken out three customers who were leaving...and another couple who were just coming in.

I had to meet guild members, so didn't find out what had happened. (I'd guess some sort of blackout. Poor lady.) When I drove past an hour later, plywood had been put up, and the Fire Department was gone.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * *** * *** * **  * ** * ** *** ** * * * * * * * * *

At night, the Common Threads girls and I had a long talk about Ruby...

     Ruby McKim, an extraordinary quilt designer whose work ranged from 1916 to just before her death in 1976.

     She not only designed and marketed all sorts of quilt series, from the Quaddy Quiltie (Thornton Burgess characters) to Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan, but she also designed for the Kansas City Star, as well as McKim Studios, the company she owned with her husband. The McKims also sold American-made and imported dolls, as well as quilt kits and patterns through their catalog, "Designs Worth Doing."
     (Ironically, she died in July of that year, in Independence, MO -- I will always wonder what she would have come up with to celebrate the Bicentennial.) 

     Want to learn more about this fascinating person, and her work?

A good starting point is Ruby's profile on the Quilter's Hall of Fame site. (She was inducted in the early 2000s.) But you'll want to spend the most time on Karen Alexander's fascinating (and thorough) coverage of the "Ruby McKim Revival," on the QHF blog.

Another McKim scholar, Jill Sutton Filo, took a long and loving look at McKim in her Roly-Poly Circus Quilt book. (These are selling at high prices on Amazon and Ebay, but we actually have two copies at more reasonable prices. Ask, and I'll pass on more information.)

     For  various versions of Ruby's Flower Garden and state flower quilts, see Tim Latimer's blog. (Boy, this guy has got it bad.)

And a long and loving look at various McKim series , interpreted mostly in quilt form, from Lynn's Quilts - Vintage and Antique blog.

You can always contact us at Brickworks for more info on Ruby, as well -- just write me:

And finally, there's Ruby's famous book, 101 Patchwork Patterns. This has been in print for many decades, and is easy to find. (Warning: Not all the pattern pieces work! You may have to do some drafting...Ruby did understand the basics of quiltmaking, and made quilts herself. Maybe she was in a hurry. Regardless, this is an inspirational pattern book.)

     Ruby's granddaughter Merrily has resurrected McKim Studios, and is promoting Ruby's work. Stop by for a visit, and find out more.  McKim Studios also sells a variety of Ruby's patterns, and gives a rich view of "Grammy" and her family's love for her.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Rude, Rude, Rude...

Cousin Jack sent this -- hey, he's related, I have to listen!

Today my wife said. "Honey, fix that gutter downspout!"
Well, as you all know, I'm retired. I invited some of my buddies over.
One brought his welder.
Took us about 4 hours, and 30 beers, but we got the downspout fixed and my welder buddy gave it an artistic flair.
Wife is speechless... 

Yeah, well, so am I, Cuz!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

All They Wanted for Christmas...They Got

Here's a new twist...passengers on two flights to Calgary via  WestJet had a Santa appear when they scanned in their boarding passes. The jolly saint asked what they wanted for Christmas.

After the passengers answered (with everything from a large-screen TV to "flights home for the holidays," even socks and underwear!), airline staff worked like Santa's elves to collect and wrap the presents in time for their arrival.

Here's the report...and the video:

What a nice thing for an airline to do!
      (Shoot, all I ever get are peanuts and stale cookies...if I'm lucky.)

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Whatchoo Lookin' At?

Yes, it's Tuesday...I guess that's a sign that we had a good time on our anniversary trip. Just got back. We had a great time, but got a surprise present from the City of Denver: a $25 parking ticket neither of us thinks we deserve. I plan to protest...
     It's chilly here, but nowhere near the Polar Vortex we're hearing so much about lately. (Doesn't that sound better than "Gee, it's cold!") It's been so cold that the Chicago Zoo had to bring their polar bears and penguins inside, to keep them from frostbite. Go figure.
 I'm not sure if it's putting more people online or what, but readership of this blog has been steadily rising -- nearly 5500 a month! Thank you; I'm honored. 
     A busy week -- appraisals and a gig tomorrow for the Common Threads Quilt Club in Parker, CO. (On Ruby McKim -- stop by for the talk!). If you're curious, one of Ruby's quilts is here.
     Then more appraisals on Friday. Next week will be more peaceful. 

Pigeons, dog poop, and $60,000...what would make you more happy? A blogpost from my Retire By 40 boss, Joe Udo, on what's really important in life.

Foods NOT to cook when your house is on the market. From the experienced realtor at Love Now Sell Later. (Popcorn? Really?)

Pepper Steak Slow Cooker Soup. Boy, this sounds delicious. (From Who Needs A Cape)

Ten insider tips for saving on grocery costs. (From Bankrate.)

Eighty cops and firemen are being charged with filing fake disabilities, so they can benefit from the generous 9/11 fund. Boy, this is sickening.

J.P. Morgan has agreed to cough up $1.7 BILLION to pay victims defrauded by Bernie Madoff. Wow! If that includes you, sign

Can you really afford it?  A post on how to make sure -- from yours truly via Midlife Finance.

Have a good week -- and stay warm.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Another Post-Mortem Photo...with quilt

Post-mortem photos (known as "dead baby" photos in the Brick house, thanks to Daughter #2) were often the only souvenir of a child's life. Most photos show the child by itself, poor little eyes rolled back in its head. Or the bereaved parent is shown, holding the small body gently.

Rarely do you see both. But now you can, thanks to Ebay!

This listing has two 19th century daguerrotypes. One has Mom holding the baby:

She looks exhausted, doesn't she...poor girl.
     And the other shows the baby, tenderly tucked into bed:

Note the simple patchwork quilt.

Sad, yes -- but a typical expression of mourning in our culture. These photos are rare, but valued. (The price on this listing? A hefty $6,000.)

For more on post-mortem photos, go here.

Using Up Christmas Leftovers

Pretty Hungry, a new blog I've started reading, has an interesting idea:

Take all those tired bits of holiday candy, chop 'em up, and put in a "pillow-y" soft cookie.  (Think chocolate chip cookies -- but with extra stuff.)

Recipe's here. (The secret to the soft dough? A spoonful of vanilla pudding mix.)

I've been cleaning up all sorts of leftovers lately -- a chunk of salmon here (from the 7 Fish Dishes), a small container of oysters (forgotten during same...but perfect for oyster stew), and a hambone there. (Used in Hoppin John, so we get the black-eyed peas needed for good luck in the new year.) The refrigerator shelves are showing up again...but I am getting very tired of trying to use up all these bits and pieces before they go green. Or blue. Or black.

Hoppin John - from Wikipedia. It may use leftovers...but it sure tastes good

Having stomach flu probably doesn't help. It showed up suddenly -- and right on the eve of going away for a few days, to celebrate our anniversary. (32 years - can you believe it!)
     We may just spend the next few days watching football and sleeping in, instead of racing around Denver. The hotel has these lovely floor-length windows in the lounge area -- you can watch passersby shivering their way down the street, while you're snug and drinking coffee by the fire inside. Bliss.

And NO leftovers.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Celebrate A Birthday Star

A quilt -- a real beauty -- made by Debra Geissler for her 60th birthday. (It was finished just in time for the party.) Deb used a Judy Niemeyer pattern, and chose her own fabrics for the top. The quilting motifs are her own, too, carefully arranged.

Look at the amazing quilted details on this piece. Not surprising, since Deb's special forte is quilting. She does a lot of pieces, including custom work, for clients. (You'll find her website, Designs by Deb, here.)

I love the contrast of the feather quilting with that jaggedy outer border. 

Happy belated birthday, Deb -- and keep up the great work. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Cleaning Up, Putting Up

Jack, why doesn't Mom want to crunch on those tasty little balls??

Well, them's that.

After a reasonably peaceful New Year's day, the Brick trotted off to work this morning...and I got to work, as well. Piles of stuff are EVERYWHERE. Fortunately, they're small piles...and an hour or so of folding and putting-away should take care of most of them.

Muse Marian has a seven-item checklist of things to take care of after the holiday season. Some don't apply to us, so much -- I never had enough champagne flutes to match anything, for example, thanks to girlies with a prediliction for dropping/spilling glasses. And we didn't throw any parties this year, so I don't need to check in with my friends for a 'postmortem.'

 I've got my own list:

*Get the balls and lights off the Christmas tree. Drag it outside...dogs view this as a new game, and try to play tag while I'm yanking it out the front door. Needles fly everywhere. (Oops, missed a ball or two.) Throw over the fence -- chickens immediately rush over to investigate. Here's my chance to check for eggs while they do -- one of the Rhode Island Reds is crabby right now, and tries to peck me, if she's in the nesting box. The chickens are laying well. (Of course, they literally stack on top of each other in the one or two nesting boxes they favor, even though the third one's empty.) The cold doesn't seem to bother them, thanks to sheer pigheadedness -- and the heatlamp.

*Wash clothes. Wash more clothes. Get them on the line before it gets too cold out. (Fold clothes already in the basket, so I can use it.) Iron shirts. Heave a big sigh.

*Scrub the oil off the stove. (We had fried eggrolls last night. What a mess.) Scrub more oil off the counter. Clear the dishwasher. Scrub and put away pots and pans. Tell Charley to quit licking places. (Not to mention munching on chicken poop, which he views as a delectable snack.)

*Haul out leftovers from fridge. Look at them  -- and decide on chicken enchiladas for supper, instead.

And when that's done:  9 articles to write, and some appraisal work to send out. Exciting, huh?

Must get on with it.

Some people just don't appreciate the finer things in life.