Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Which Came First, The Peep or the Egg?

Betty Crocker has a new cupcake recipe out that makes great use of Peep brand marshmallow chickens...
    You not only get the chicken -- but the eggs and sprinkles are inside!

I'm still not sure whether to be thrilled or weirded out. (Too much contact with our chickens, I guess.)

But you could use this idea to make other cupcakes-with-goodies-inside, including Reese's pieces, chocolate chips, chopped-up Almond Roca... Ooh, getting ideas now.

Here they are, if you want to make them.


This post also included on the Holiday Goodies blog.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: March, Make Up Your Mind!

Spring is doing its usual weird number. This past week alone, we've had rain, very thick and messy snow, and 70s shorts-and-sunshine temperatures. I don't know whether to go out and plant, or shovel the sidewalk.  
     Finally starting to feel a little better...but I get so tired quickly. Sang in choir for Palm Sunday -- sang on Worship Team -- fell into bed exhausted, for a nap. Did some chores, then went to American Sniper. An amazing, amazing movie. 
    This week is bound to be just as strange -- not just the weather, but most probably two choir practices, plus Worship Team and Good Friday. Which means going out on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to sing...when I've currently got about an 8-note range. (Sigh.) Meanwhile:

Five ways to decorate those bare walls. (From Apartment Therapy)

Dealing with eczema -- frugally and naturally. A dear friend has suffered from this for decades...and the Mama had her share over the past year, as well. It's incredibly itchy and painful.  (From Penniless Parenting)

Witnesses with unusual information who died rather conveniently. (From our buddies at Listverse)

Weird texts -- not that I find these amusing or anything. (!!!)

How to get hired -- even if you're 'too old,' overqualified, or don't really need the money. (From Financial Samurai.)

Seed crackers - homemade. (From Penniless Parenting)

From this...

To this! For how-to's, go here.   (Thanks, Fyne Designs)

Weird Stuff I Have Sold. And made a lot of money on.  (From The Queen of Auctions)

Cutting your power bill by 80%. (From Mr. Money Mustache)

And from yours truly, via Midlife Finance:
      Saving on your 2014 taxes.
      Lessons learned from the Irish.

And don't forget... Easter's coming! Have a great week.

Bad Dogs, Bad Dogs (Whatcha Gonna Do...)

Dogs who should be ashamed of themselves. Like these two:

Go here for the lowdown. Bad dogs!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Feeling A Little Sheep-ish?

A handful of Cheerios and a few pretzel sticks will make these cuties for Easter.

(The black sheep need chocolate Cheerios.)

Go here for specifics.

Thank you, Betty Crocker!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Home Dec -- and Life -- Discoveries

Just finished a post over at Apartment Therapy about living alone...and liking it that way.

And it got me thinking.

The Brick and I are in the throes of planning for the future. Technically, he could retire now, if he really wanted to... but he likes what he's doing (most of the time) and plans to stay for a while.

What is clear to both of us: our time here in the house is going to come to an end, sometime in the next two years or so. We're not sure where we're heading next...but we need to pare down. Big-time.

Ironically, while sorting through books, papers, etc., and making decorating decisions, I've discovered some things. Surprisingly, they apply to life, as well as home dec. 

*Cleaning off a counter or tabletop is like an archeological dig. We (okay, mostly me) stack important mail, coupons, memos, etc. to "put away later." Then the next batch of Important Things goes on top. If I can put things away NOW, and keep doing it that way, the cleared area stays clean.
(I know this, because counters I cleared away for the Brick's birthday have stayed that way. Getting sick keeps you home, and generally away from paperwork.)

*I don't need to 'collect' like I used to. Fifty-plus years of picking up favorite dish styles (like Flow Blue or Blue Willow) has meant a stuffed cupboard. I only buy cups, plates or such if they're really distinctive, really old, and/or at a steal of a price. (Or I feel I can resell them easily. You'd be surprised what this category contains, including, of all things, Starbucks mugs!)

*Larger scale is better. Not only does a larger painting fill a blank space better -- it lets you say goodbye to all those smaller tsochkes that seemed like such a good deal.

*Blank space is okay. (See above about the countertop.)

*Giving myself permission to buy flowers or a higher-end item is also okay. You're talking to a girl who grew up on a farm, in a Hollander household that valued a bargain -- mostly because that was the only way we could afford things. Otherwise, we grew, prepared or made everything we needed, from Sunday breakfast (with bacon from the pigs we butchered) to bathroom shelves.

             Buying flowers? Pick 'em from the 'back forty.'

 Nicer furniture? Check a yardsale -- after all, a chair's a chair.

     It's easy to let this viewpoint rule my life. (And it can be very valuable, at times.)
But I generally win the struggle by:
         *buying the item on sale
         *in the flowers' case, buying a plant or blooms that will last longer. Carnations, for example, look great for up to two or three weeks.)
         *using money that's "extra," like Amazon gift cards earned by using Swagbucks. (A great deal -- I'll tell you more about this later this week.)
         *refusing to buy until it is a quality piece (even if it's marked down at the thrift shop!)
         *getting rid of the lesser stuff, to make room for the better ones
         *donating from the "get-rid-of" pile, to help out our local thrift shop, and get the tax benefit

I still enjoy eclectic clutter, like this girl's (note the blank wallspaces!), but am resolving to admire it more -- and emulate it less.

     The Brick is thrilled with the clean(er) spots, and promises to help keep clearing away things, as well as work on projects we've been planning for years. (Tile the living room, put in a new shower, etc etc.) After all, it will be less stuff to move, fewer DIY jobs to improve the place, and more freedom, once we do decide what we want to do.
     Sounds wonderful to me, too.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Most Essential Tools in Your Toolbox

The Brick is an engineer by training. I'm sure he'd agree.

Red Green definitely would! (After all, duct tape is "the handyman's secret weapon...")

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Will This Ever End?

The flu, that is. 

I haven't had a reliable voice for more than a week. It sticks around for a little -- then disappears, or goes into squeakiness at inappropriate moments. 
    The fever does the same thing -- it was back twice today. I am dragging myself around just to get critical things done, like meals, reports and clean underwear. 
    At least the cough is better.

I have no time for this. The house has piles everywhere, I have things to finish...and appraisals to do. It would be fun to do a little digging outside, as well, while the weather's still good. (We're supposed to get snow and low temps again on Thursday.) Meanwhile: 

How to accidentally save money. (From Punch Debt in the Face)

Coke Zero Cherry Slush. I'd prefer regular Coke, but... (from Who Needs A Cape)

17 IKEA hacks to make your homespace work harder. (Some great ideas here. You don't need those specific products, either.) Twelve more IKEA hacks are here, to get you thinking.

Matthew McConaughey's customized Airstream. A movie star's favorite digs are a 28-foot trailer? Wow.

Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwiches... a traditional favorite, especially for the Kentucky Derby. Being a nawthunuh by birth, I didn't know about these -- but they sound delicious. The Brick, who was raised in North Carolina, may be more familiar with them...but he's not a horseman. (From Cleverly Inspired, who IS a Kentuck filly.)

 A guy marches out in a crabby mood, fools around with his metal detector...and discovers a 2.7K gold nugget.  Value: more than $130,000.

Someone keeps photocopying their cat -- in the University of Wisconsin's library.
         No, I am not making this up. You do wonder, though, how the cat feels about it...

10 clever uses for chalkboard paint. (From Cleverly Inspired) 

How long can DNA really last? Or, in other words, is this whole Jurassic Park thing really feasible?

A chocolate cake for a birthday feast. (From Pretty/Hungry)

A really unusual crystal -- found in a meteorite.

Have a great, healthy week!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Some Very VERY Old Fabric

How often do you get to see an authentic pre-Viking textile?


This greenish-brown woolen tunic (sized for a person about 5' 9") was found in 2011 near a thawing glacier in southern Norway. Carbon dating put its origin about the year 300.

   "It's worrying that glaciers are melting, but exciting for us archaeologists," said Lars Piloe, a Danish archaeologist. More than 1600 artifacts have been found in recent years, including a Viking mitten (year 800), a Bronze Age leather shoe, old wood bows and arrowheads.

I first read about this in a Huffington Post article. Don't miss out on the 'Recently Unearthed' section at the bottom of this post -- lots and lots of archeological and other treasure-related discoveries.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

    Not that I feel much like celebrating... flu is back again. (Ergh) Most people, ourselves included, would have corned beef and cabbage for supper, but I  blanched at the price this year. (Three bucks a pound for corned beef?!?)

We'll have some Irish bangers (sausages) and a plate of Colcannon, instead.   


4-6 potatoes
1 1/2 cups chopped cabbage
1/2 chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped bacon
4 tablespoons butter

Peel potatoes, gently boil them with cabbage and onion until potatoes are fork-tender. Mash, then add butter. Sprinkle bacon over; serves two hearty appetites.

    (A fancier dish may be made by boiling the potatoes and cabbage/onion mix separately. Arrange mashed potatoes in a ring, then pile the cabbage/onions in the center. Sprinkle all with bacon and butter.)

A lot can be learned from our Irish ancestors.

More Gaelic stuff -- and recipes -- here. 

Erin Go Bragh! God bless Ireland, one of the Bricks' ancestral homes. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Figuring and Schlepping

The weekend's almost over -- and I spent it with a scratchy, gone-and-back voice, and a running nose. Oh joy. Monday, I'm off to do a long appraising job, so thought I'd better get this on the Internet tonight. This week is more of the usual:  appraising, then putting boxes and books away. We just got a huge batch of Crazy books in, at a stunning discount -- and we'll eventually be passing that savings on to you!
     We have little gritty piles of snow left, but mostly dirt, which Charley loves to dig in. (He's currently working on a hole deep enough to communicate with his Chinese brothers very soon.) The daffodil greens are up, and buds are bursting -- but not quite in bloom yet. 

Growing tomatoes from seed -- the easy way. (From  Mike's Backyard Nursery)

An amazing way to expand your closet space, using bifold doors. (From Ana White)

Five ways to have oversized wall art for less. Plus an excellent look at one of the options: oversized engineering prints. (both from Apartment Therapy)

A cowhide-and-chrome beauty, from a throwaway. (From the Heathered Nest) 

"Nope, I just used my personal e-mail for convenience." Hilary Clinton's take on the story. (I'd be quicker to believe her if  there weren't some pretty big gaps in e-mail released for certain critical time periods.)

Tattoed seniors. Whoa. (Daughter #2, are you reading this?)

Classy decorator letters -- the how-to's.  (From That's My Letter)

The cheapest bid isn't always the best one. The real question: is it the best-informed one? (From I Pick Up Pennies)

Financial lessons learned from Destiny's Child. (From Marriage and Money)

Seafood enchiladas. The secret ingredient? A touch of nutmeg! (From Frugal Upstate)

Have a great, blooming week.

Friday, March 13, 2015

More on "Blurred Lines"

Remember the Marvin Gaye judgment I mentioned a few days ago?

Here's the Thicke/Williams video to go with the song. (Yes, it's weird, but they admitted they were rude on purpose.)

 Now you'll be able to appreciate the level of humor Jimmy Kimmel put into this parody:

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Musical Travesty

So here's a weird one.

Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams have to pay $7.4 million dollars to the estate of Marvin Gaye.


Because their song, "Blurred Lines:"
    (warning: this gets nasty)

is said to have ripped off Gaye's song "Got to Give It Up:"

Did you listen to them both?

Do they sound like each other...except for maybe a tiny part of the beat? (They were calling it "the groove" in the lawsuit.)

I've heard some blatant music riffs stolen -- but this sure isn't one of them. In fact, if I'd been on the jury, Gaye's family wouldn't have gotten the award.

Gaye's daughter says that Thicke and Williams started all this fuss -- so they got what they deserved -- and she is 'free from their chains.'  (Gaye isn't around to comment...he was murdered decades ago by his own father. Very sad.)

"Blurred Lines" is a catchy tune, one of 2013's big hits, and made its writers more than $16 million. So they're still emerging with a profit. And according to Pharrell, they came up with the basic outline in one hour. Inspired tunes can happen like that. (These, too.) Thicke has been acting like a jerk in his personal life  -- but that doesn't make this judicial decision right.

     If lawsuits like this keep happening, who else is going to get sued? Sesame Street..Handel...Beethoven?

Are they going after Al Yankovic next?

Sic 'em, Al!

Why Are You Making (And Saving) Money?

Is it for the right reasons?

(noticed on MoneySaving Mom, a great site for saving and spending wisely.)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Karen Combs' Stolen Quilts - Update

Some people are visiting back on a post I wrote in March 2012, about Karen Combs' missing quilts. Karen had a big batch of quilts stolen from her car while teaching in Texas. (Go here for that painful description.) 

I started to  wonder...did those quilts ever turn up?

According to Karen --"Nope, not a trace."

"Since the quilts were all for classes, I remade the quilts and many other samples to take the place of the ones stolen. I still hope something turns up at some point, but I realize that is not realistic."

The insurance company paid her claim, because she had appraisals done on the missing quilts. Yes, being an appraiser, I have a personal interest in this -- but appraisals really DO count when the quilts are damaged, stolen or disappear during shipping. Honest. (Ask Karen.)

Life goes on, fortunately. Karen's continued to teach and sell patterns and books, using the replacement quilts. Her book, Celtic Pieced Illusions, is especially wonderful. (You can learn more about Karen and her work at her website -- go here for more.) In fact, she's going to be teaching during a intriguing Bali batiks cruise in January next year.

"Thanks for checking and for everyone's concern," Karen writes. "I appreciate it so much!"

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: March Mud

Welcome to the newly-minted world here in Colorado. We still have chilly temps, especially at night, but also sprigs of grass, daffodil buds popping up, snow melting...and a sea of mud. Charley loves racing around in it, and is currently sporting a permanent streak of brown on his nose, from rooting up things. The chickens love it, too, and are already staking out corners of their yard for dustbaths. When the ground dries more, that is.
    It's going to be a reasonably-quiet week again. I've had work to do, including appraisals and piano lessons, but am loving this chance to get ahead a little. Yay for Spring!

A bald eagle in Pennsylvania has been staying on her egg-filled nest, in spite of being covered up to the neck with snow, at times. Now that's dedication! Click on the link to see the live cam version. Speaking of birds:

A collection of gifts brought to a young girl --by the crows she's been feeding. (I hear that Bigfoot will do this, as well, but am too creeped out to explore the idea much.)

The American History quilt sold for $19,200.  Including buyer's premium.

"I was piggy. But I'm not that person anymore." Dennis Kozlowski's off parole now, after serving seven years for stealing $150-million-plus.  How much of that has he paid back? (Are you listening, Bernie?) In keeping with this thread:

Famous people who led double lives.

Facts John Lennon would rather not have admitted about himself. (I'm not a huge fan of wife Yoko, either. though I like the Beatles' -- and some of John's -- music.)

Random acts of kindness. Hopefully these will inspire you to add to the mix.

18 very cute tea infusers. (Hey, only classics on this blog. We're actually going to start carrying the 'little man' version on Brickworks, as well as an upcoming Etsy store, as part of a gift basket.)

A guy who ships snow. For $89 a box. Before you start laughing... he's made more than $13,000, so far. (From the Penny Hoarder)

A baby woolly rhino discovered in Siberia. First of its kind, according to scientists.

Sugar skulls. If you're a dia de muertos fan, you'll appreciate these. (From Chicken Blog)

A beautiful little moss-covered basket. This version is for Easter, but it would be a good fit for St. Patrick's Day, too. (From 3 Little Greenwoods)

A lioness captures a baby monkey...and does something totally out of character.  

A Warsaw, Poland home that truly fits the moniker 'tiny.' Think being able to touch each wall just by standing up. (Its owner loves it.)

Have a great week.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Smartest Person in the Room - Ten Ways to Do It

Thank you, Huffington Post, for passing this on!   The Brick, a former engineer (and still one at heart) laughed about the little engineer digs. I'd laugh harder if I hadn't seen some of these tricks ( #3, 4, 7, 8, 9, etc.) used.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Jonathan Sweangen: Window Art Made Meaningful

I wanted to introduce you to a most unusual artist -- his specialty is 'repurposed' art. 

Jonathan Sweangen is a window artist, by trade -- in fact, that's how I met him first. He and his son replaced our old, crappy windows with energy-efficient ones. (Did a good job, too.)

Jonathan has been doing this as a business for decades. But he admired the look and architectural detail of the vintage and antique frames he took out of older homes. Normally they were discarded. Couldn't they be used for another purpose?

Note the arrowheads in the corners. Jonathan's distinctive signature -- a braided rope link -- is at bottom right.

An inveterate packrat, he'd collected file drawers full of vintage and antique ephemera, including postcards, photos, newspaper articles, sheet music, postage stamps and stickers, etc.. Couldn't those be used in a collage that literally frames itself?

     They could...and he did.

This is the backside of the Indian piece shown above
He enjoys doing two-sided pieces, as well as more conventional (if you can call it that) one-sided ones, like the advertising piece shown below. (This one caused a real buzz at a fundraiser I attended recently.)

Crave Magazine recently did an interview with Jonathan. Find out more about his unique approach there. I've now seen dozens of Jonathan's pieces; all have a graphic cultural connection that is fascinating. How often can you enjoy art with a historical connection, as well...

Jonathan's work reminds me of the collage boxes done by Joseph Cornell. ('Assemblage,' some call it.) They have that sense of mystery, layers of meaning that gradually peel themselves back, the more you look. These window art pieces also have a strong textural feel, in part to carefully preserving the finish and sash pieces of the original windows.

They're quirky but brilliant, rich in color and wonderful to study. I now own two of Jonathan's pieces -- one of them the Indian piece in this post. One is in our hallway, the other displayed in a window. I seem to notice something new in them every day.

Here are two of his newest pieces: In Tepee Land --

Yes, that's Jonathan -- at a jobsite. (I'd stopped by.)

And my personal favorite: a riff centered on autumn, sailing... and the Titanic.

If you'd like to know more, you can contact Jonathan at sjonathan3210@yahoo.com.
                 He's working on a website to offer his work.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Cellphone Sillies

See if you can read these real text messages, and NOT laugh.

(Well, I was wondering on these...)

The Brick can relate to this one. His daughters -- and wife-- are always asking him to come kill/dispose of various Creepy Things: mice, spiders, etc.

That's right. Blame the weird stuff you end up saying on the cellphone...

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Bigfoot Lives (Or At Least Gets Dressed)

From the "Now I've Seen Everything" department:

Bigfoot dress-up paper dolls!

No more running naked around the forest, parts hanging out. Now you can costume your BF friend for the holidays, including the upcoming St. Patrick's Day festivities. (Just don't let him drink too much green beer.)

Don't believe me?

Not that I would actually TRY to dress the big Guy. After all, he might not like it.

But if you do, go here.

He must be...

Bad Kitty

...and 14 more. (Prepare to laugh. Not that they deserve it.)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: March Is Roaring In

Well, we're up to our hips in snow around here in Colorado. Fortunately, the chickens and Charley have worn their own paths through the white. More snow's coming this week -- guess that it means by March "roaring in like a lion." Does that mean we have a fighting chance to see it go out like a lamb?
    This week will hopefully be my catch-up week: a lot of things to fold and put away, more to inventory. And a book I've been editing for years, a legacy for my uncle. 
     I want to get these DONE. Meanwhile:

A very expensive pearl dress worn to the Oscars -- then stolen. Here's the weird part: it was returned by the thief, who alleged the pearls were fake. Turns out he was right! (Now the designers are backpedaling: 'We never said it was real...') 

All you ever wanted to know about marble countertops. (From Apartment Therapy)

DIYs on painting concrete flooring. (From My Thrift Store Addiction)

Steady 10%-plus interest on an investment? Financial Samurai got it with P2P Lending. 

Ten strange still-unsolved mysteries from around the world. 

A 905-FOOT tunnel, found under an Arizona home and extending (where else) across into the Mexican border.  This may be the longest one yet. For smuggling, of course. 

Ten historic sites gone forever...due to stupid actions and decisions.

A stolen Picasso portrait turns up -- marked as a Christmas present.


Head transplants -- in less than two years?? Am I the only one wincing here?

A NINE-FOOT-LONG catfish? Yes, caught by twin brothers in Italy. (They're saying this photo isn't doctored, either.)

A woman found frozen to the ground, after two days. (She survived...amazing.)

Beautiful striped picture framesGold tape does it! (From Honey & Fitz)

A new Bigfoot Colorado report. This one's about an hour's drive from us.

And in honor of all the snow we've been getting --

Cat: An Immovable Force