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 Cancun...here'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?

Hmmm.

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 things...like 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. 
     Meanwhile:

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 Found...in 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!



Happy Weekend

      Making progress...finally! Still behind -- but not as much. As usual, life at Chez Brick is anything but simple:      *Son #1 is ban...