Monday, August 31, 2015

Did You Buy Starkist Tuna Between 2009 and 2014?

If so, you're eligible for a refund! 

Starkist just admitted that it underfilled its cans during these years...and if you purchased tunafish during that time, you can be part of a class-action lawsuit that Starkist is settling with.

'Big deal,' you say. 'What's it going to get me?'

Fill out a brief submission form:

$25 cash
$50 worth of vouchers for Starkist products

Isn't that worth a few minutes of your time? 

Go here to learn more.

Monday Stuff on the Way to Other Stuff: All's Quiet on the Western Front far, at least.
      We've made some decisions that helped. (More about these soon.) It's still hot in Colorado, but there's a slight tinge of coolness in the air. Or maybe it's the calendar pointing that this is the last day of August.
     No matter -- I love fall.
Last week should have been called Dead Things Celebration-- I found a bunch. First, one of our oldest chickens died. Then I found a fat brown mouse on the back stairs -- by almost stepping on it. (The appraisal client who was here can tell you how loud I yelled!) Then Charley decided to 'play' with a snake. (He slings it around like a coil of rope until it stops moving. What a party pooper, that snake.) 
    Last night, to top things off, I almost stepped on yet another mouse -- this one silver-- out in the grass. (Apparently courtesy of Charley, too -- he has been showing great interest in a tarp nearby.) Every discovery like this prompts a frantic request to the Brick to Get Rid of It. 
Meanwhile, in the world of the Internet:

Ever wondered what I've written elsewhere? Found: this stash of old posts, all written by yours truly,  for the Penny Thots website some time ago.

The power of a ten-spot. (From Mr. Money Mustache)

Brunch decorating ideas. This was specifically for a bridal shower, but I could see its usefulness for other events, as well. Some nice tips on positioning food at different levels for visual interest -- and how to do it. (From Southern Hospitality)

The girl who sent more than 1,000 messages, encouraging and bullying her friend to commit suicide -- then was 'surprised' when he did. ("I'll never understand why this had to happen.") She's on trial now.

'Disturbing historical photos of all time.' They just get weirder and weirder, don't they...

Gimme that!

 A maintenance crew working underwater at a bridge on US 50 in Maryland found debris...and an 18th century shipwreck. It's thought to date back to Revolutionary War times.

Readers' favorites for personal finance apps and tools. (From the College Investor)

The connection between bullying and living with shame. This psychotherapist also has a number of different interesting posts, including several telling ones on narcissism...and how narcissists will 'project' their bad behavior on someone else, in order to mentally get rid of it. (Or live with it, I guess.)

Going to grad school-- for free. (From the Frugalwoods)

Eight surprising little secrets -- tucked into famous movies. You probably didn't notice these 'in' jokes before...but now you know.

Would a writer want a word-y rug? I would...but am not so sure about the Brick. The translation is in the comments, by the way -- it's a French fable that seems to parallel the grasshopper and the ant. (From Thrifty Decor Chick)

The value of "one sane space" that's tidy, well-ordered and comforting, even when the rest of your life is in chaos. (From The Nester)

Students who built tiny homes to save on dorm rent. Clever, clever.

Ten ways to reuse a t-shirt. (From Apartment Therapy)

A log cabin chicken to make. (From Sew Unique) To see these in action, read this post by Oh Sew Tempting.

A mother and daughter who needed (and got) lots of help -- only it was all a fake. Now the daughter's in jail for helping murder her mom.

DIY 'elephant knobs' -- you could use this idea for about anything. (From My Creative Days)  

Got a business? Six ways you can use summer (and fall, for that matter) to heat up your sales. (From

Twelve essential lessons about money and life. With big poster-y signs to remind you. (From Afford Anything)

A beach-style 'bulkhead light' hack, thanks to Home Depot, that would make any landlubber proud -- for less than $20. (From Salt Marsh Cottage Design)

Have a great week. Enjoy summer while you can...because it's nearly gone.  

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Silly Cat Photos

These were scattered all over the Internet before I collected them just for you... 

Not that we'd have any hidden plans...nope, not us.

Now if these were chickens, they would kick this cat's butt


What can I say...write appraisals for days on end, and you'd get a little weird, too...

Friday, August 28, 2015

What To Do, Now That The Stock Market Has Tanked... And a Few Updates

 You've watched the stock market do the equivalent of a kid's yo-yo this week: up, down, up, down so many times that if you were paying close attention (I hope you aren't), you'd be sick.

So what should you do about it?

According to Ron Lieber...


    This New York Times columnist argues that if you're into stocks, your best bet is to hold onto them. For the long run. Pretty much every time, the market has tanked, it's started to rebound soon after. Hang in patient.

And do what Warren Buffett subscribes to:   When everyone else is selling, buy. But buy quality. "Time is the friend of the wonderful company," he says. (I got some Wal-Mart stock this week at a price I haven't seen in years -- and it has a quarterly dividend, too.)

* * * * * * * * * * *LAW AND (DIS)ORDER

After yesterday's post on James Holmes' sentencing, I can hear people saying, 'Lighten up!' It's done and over with.'
    The problem is: it's not. 

We just had another verdict in a horrendous murder trial for Dexter Lewis. (It wasn't so bad this time -- instead of dozens, he only murdered five people. They were in a bar he and buddies were robbing...and wanted no witnesses. What's a few dozen stab wounds between friends?)
      In spite of long sob stories on how mean his mom was (including her choice in men), how mean his dad was... and boo hoo, he had such a hard life, Lewis was found guilty (whew). But once again, a juror or two voted for life imprisonment versus the death penalty. So that's what Lewis gets. (Something odd happened after the sentencing verdict -- it was greeted by screams from Lewis' family members. Were they screams of joy -- or horror? Perhaps both.)

      The Denver Post had a very silly editorial about the two trials. According to them, it's all good because Holmes is white and Lewis is black -- so it's only fair. And since a few people on a jury can keep the death penalty from happening...well, the death penalty must be unfair. And 'everybody' wants it that way.
      Yeah, right.

* * * * * * * * * *THE CHICKIES

I like to keep you posted on our crazy feathered friends. We lost one of the oldest chickens this week (heat stroke, maybe?), but the 'babies' are just starting to lay. They produce cute little brown eggs that are gradually getting bigger. The only struggle: out of 13 'babies' (who should each be laying by now) and approx. 15 other chickens, we're only getting between 7-8 eggs daily. Who's slacking!?!
     I cleaned out the freezer, and they've had a wonderful time munching on freezer-burned hamburger and chicken bits. (Yes, they're cannibals that way. Meat's meat.) Maybe I had to throw away those mushy pepper bits -- but at least the chickies will convert them to eggs.
       I hope. 

* * * * * * * * * * YES, WE HAVE LOTS OF TOMATOES

I know. For the rest of you, this weenie basketful is no big deal. (Especially in Michigan, the Land of Hot and Sticky Summer NIghts.) But for us, it's major exciting. Notice the basket of eggs nearby, too.

 No bananas, though. (Couldn't help myself.)

* * * * * * * * * *QUILTING

Perhaps, maybe I will get some time to sew this coming week! That's the hardest part about being a quilting teacher and lecturer -- you rarely have time to fool around, sewing-wise. Our friend Tommy has been moaning and griping about the quilt he was supposed to get years ago. Now friend Dan has started the clamor for HIS quilt. (He wants an eagle design. Tommy wants a hunting-themed quilt.) If I can get the tops done now, I might get them done by Christmas.
      That'll shut those two zany guys up.

And finally:

We're still here.

Still trying to figure some things out. Still working on reports. But hanging in there.
   Hopefully you are, too.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Goodbye to All That

James Holmes, the smirking, "Yep, I'm crazy, all right" perpetrator of the Colorado Theatre murder trial, has finally been sentenced.

12 life sentences.

Plus a bunch of years for all the people he wounded.

More than 3,000 years total.

Absolutely no possibility of parole. (Which wouldn't have happened if he'd been found insane.)

 The judge refused to look at him or use his name, and right after sentencing, said to the policeman, "Get this defendant out of my courtroom now."
    He's not the only person who's been sickened by all this.

The judge took a lot of time to mention to the crowd why, in spite of the verdict, he thought the trial was important. Two reasons were mentioned, over and over:  information (especially about the people Holmes murdered) and closure. 

    Some people have taken to arguing that Colorado should never hand out death sentences, since this guy didn't get one. They're also arguing that 'everyone' feels the death penalty should be abolished -- since ONE PERSON on the jury voted against it. (And in current Colorado law, that's good enough for it to be thrown out. The jury has to be unanimous.)

I'm not the only one in this grand state that disagrees with that. 

Fine. He's in jail now -- and staying. Cheering broke out after the hearing was finished, as the spectators realized (according to the reporter there) that the judge would not penalize them for expressing themselves.

It's been soooooo frustrating. I did not know any of the victims of this debacle, but it could just as easily been one of my daughters at that movie showing. Or the Brick and myself.

Rot in peace, James Holmes.


(Thanks, Mark Lipinski, for passing this on via Facebook)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Did you see this online?

A 12-year-old kid trips, while visiting a Taiwan museum, and punches his fist right through a 17th century Italian painting. Value $1.5 million.

Notice what his mom does? (I'm assuming that's his mom.) She tries to hustle him away... 'hopefully nobody was looking.'

Yeah, right.

The museum's insured, so the painting, from a private collection, is probably insured, too. And the painting can be restored, I'm guessing. Sort of. Kind of.  (A more detailed report is here.)

But who in the world let a 12-year-old wander around with a cup full of something in his hand, to begin with,  IN A MUSEUM?!?!   (The cup got smashed against the painting, too.)

He may be mowing yards for a very long time to pay for this one. 

Poor thing...

Get On Board

Is a Nazi ghost train finally pulling into the station? 

A train, loaded with Nazi stolen treasure, may have been found, deep in an abandoned tunnel not far from Walbrzeg, Poland.

Or so they say. 

Two men have filed a claim to the train, which they say was probably on its way to Ksiaz Castle, a popular collection spot by the Nazis in WWII. The train was stuck in the tunnel and abandoned there, then the entrance covered over.

If they're right, the train could be loaded with everything from gold to paintings. (Remember Monuments Men?)

And there are plenty of governmental entities willing to argue that they should have a healthy cut of whatever is found.  Does that mean they'll get a share of the bodies, too?

Now there's a further twist: another group claims it 'found' the train two years ago, using maps and ground studies. That info these men must have stolen it from them.

The treasure hunter in me:  Talk is cheap. Prove it.   

 (No evidence, so far. The train's still buried, according to all parties. But there's much more to this story than this report.

Shades of the Colorado 'Ghost Train' that disappeared off a bridge more than a century ago.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Keeping On Keeping On

Yes, last week was rough. One of the strangest we've both had for ages. But I've been lucky: good sleeping weather (even the hot days have a touch of coolness at night), a wonderful lecture (Thanks, friends at Smoky Hill Quilt Club!), and most of all...God's grace. 
    All the same, I wouldn't want to live last week over again. 
    A number of Friends Of The Blog have written in, offering loving support and kind words. They're all much appreciated. This is just one of those times in life when bad things happen -- and you must deal with it. Fortunately, we're not alone.  I am so grateful for people who care about us, as well as the Great Judge, who knew everything long before this all started happening. Meanwhile:

Ten mysteries that involve surveillance video. (From Listverse) While you're there, stop by:

Ten historical events that were much shorter than you'd think. Did you know that Julius Caesar was only Emperor for two years??

TV series finales -- some of the best, some of the worst.

Strangest rock deaths ever.  Everything from being hit by a taxi to choking on a ham sandwich (or was it a cocktail cherry?) to being creamed by a huge hay bale. (I am not making this up. Honest.)

Success = working to win. It's not luck -- it's patience and consistent, hard work. (From Funky Junk Interiors)

"How we avoid cable and watch tv -- free."  (From the Frugalwoods)

The secret to those la-dee-dah shining kitchen sinks: baby oil! (From Messy, Thrilling Life)

21 eensy, weensy mistakes and bobbles that had a huge impact on history.

A hobbit hole? Yes, this guy has been living in one for more than 15 years...

The fascinating story (rise, ruin and redemption) of the Psychic Temple of Long Beach, CA.
 Trust me on this one...if you're into architectural design at all, you'll love the details and photos on this post.

This is freaky...a Very Large Pothole closed Highway 93 in New Hampshire.

The can't-go-wrong color scheme that works for anyone. Not my words, but they've got a point. (From Apartment Therapy) They've also got a very cool article on:

Six ways to find more space on your cramped kitchen counters. Not that I -- ahem -- have any...

Working as a servant during medieval times? Boy, it was hellish, says Kirstey Alley (and a bunch of other celebrities).

Shaun King, spokesman of Black Lives Matter, and a recipient of an Oprah Winfrey scholarship given to black men...might not be. Why is this important? Because he has been a prominent voice in the shouting against police brutality to black men, arguing that it happened to him, too.
    Shades of Rachel Doelzal.

Cheese Zombies -- a much-loved school cafeteria food. Now you can make them at home. (My high school in Michigan didn't have these -- but we sure ate a lot of hamburger gravy and pig in the blankets.)

Jiu Jitsu 101 -- Hmmm!

Sound advice from Warren Buffett. (Thanks, My Frugal Miser)

Terrell Owens is "in hell." He's nearly broke and friendless, so he says, thanks in great part to blowing $80 million or so on bad investments and crappy decisions he likes to blame on others. (Although he admits, 'I should have known/checked/I'm not a good judge of character.') Oh, boo-hoo. He should be listening to:

Ryan Broyle, who makes gazillions in the NFL -- and lives quite comfortably on $60,000 a year.

What life would be like without a work-life balance. Surprisingly, she's advocating for it! Sort of. (From Penelope Trunk)

Eight skinny suppers. Less than 300 calories each per serving, according to ol' Betty Crocker.

And finally:
A house on Cindy Street, selling in Brick, NJ. Guess what keeps popping up during a search for my name? Weird...

Have a great week.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Whale Photobomb

What happens, when you spend a bunch of time moaning about how scarce whales are, you can't find them, blah blah blah...

And a whale's blowing behind you, while you're talking about it?

Scientist Mark Carwadine got that interesting privilege...see how he reacts. 

Pearls (er, Pieces) of Wisdom from Aunty Acid

Have you met her?

 Aunty Acid is a tart-tongued older lady who doesn't take s--- from anyone. Her offkey wisdom has been a delight and amusement lately, especially considering the days I've had. Here are some items to get you started -- try NOT to laugh!

Remember: What happens tonight goes on Facebook tomorrow.

People who say 'Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels,' have obviously never had bacon.

Unfortunately, my daydreams about being skinny are often cut short by the sounds of me chewing a cookie. 

'Be Yourself' is about the worst piece of advice you could give some people.

Be nice to nurses. They keep doctors from killing you.

I'm up. If you're expecting bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, go catch a freakin' squirrel. 
    (This one's for friends Jo and Chris, who enjoy a crack-of-dawn cup of coffee.
                  And dragging bleary-eyed me along with them.)

Some days, it is just not worth putting on a bra.  (Didn't say she wasn't rude! In keeping with that:)

Friends are like boobs. You've got big ones, small ones, real ones and fake ones.
     (I have some friends who are boobs.)

I've forgotten some of the men in my life...but I remember all the cats. 

My husband thinks I am crazy -- but he's the one who married me. 

And for the Brick: 

And my favorite:

Sometimes you have to burn a few bridges to keep the Crazies from following. 

I especially love her comments on friendship:

 If you have crazy friends, then you have everything. 

A real friend is someone who knows how totally crazy you are,
    but is still willing to be seen out with you in public.

We'll be friends 'til we're old and senile...
   and then we'll be new friends all over again.

There's plenty more here to laugh (and groan) at.

Tell it like it is, Aunty!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Lecture Tonight!

I'll be busy tonight. 

Want to come hear a writer, teacher and appraiser yammer on about why appraising your quilt is VERY important?
     (Because it is.)

I'll be at tonight's meeting of the Smoky Hill Quilt Club. It's not hard to find, if you're in the Denver area:

             7:30 p.m. August 20  (tonight)
       Smoky Hill United Methodist Church
       19491 E. Smoky Hill Rd.
       Centennial, CO  80015

I'll also be talking about how an appraisal's done, what you learn from it...
     And, oh yes...
         showing some wonderful quilts.

Come join us!

Some of My Best Friends Are Teachers

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Great Comfort

     Yesterday was one of the worst days I have ever had. In my life.

Remember the long and difficult situation I've referred to (sideways, kinda) --and endured for months?

I thought it was resolved. 

Yesterday, it blew up in my face. The firestorm blazed out, only somewhat hosed down by hours of phone calls, responses and reports. Hours I didn't have to give...but had no choice.

The Brick came home for lunch. "I've had one of the worst mornings," I said, almost gaily, to him.

"Me too," said he. 

Turns out he'd been written up at work, for a situation he had no control over, by a boss who was not interested in his explanation.
    This is the first time ever that he has been written up. And for something he didn't even do! He was embarrassed and angry.

We had a friend over for supper, and told him our combined tales of woe. He knows hard times, too. His darling wife has been out of work for weeks, and just got a job -- but it pays less than her previous miniscule salary. And no benefits.

Oh boy. Benefits -- that's right. What if the Brick does decide to retire from this difficult situation? How will we pay for insurance? What will we do? 

I slept well -- until 2 a.m. Woke up to the Brick padding around restlessly. "Guess I'm going to read for a while," he said. He dozed off soon after; I went and worked on e-mail until 5 a.m. I've had so little uninterrupted sleep for weeks now, that it's starting to feel like last summer.

Every morning I pray, "Dear Lord, help me to do the best I can today. Show me what to do, and especially what to say."   Ask for wisdom, James 1:5 says. Ask God, who gives generously...and He will give it to you.

We're not the only ones who have struggled over the years. We know that -- but it's not making life any easier right now. "God? That wisdom You've promised? What's next?" my selfish voice whines. "Why are we going through this?"

It makes me grateful for comforts, large and small:  a warm Charley snuggled up to my leg. The smell of hot coffee, drifting through the house in the morning. The Brick's smile, even though his eyes are tired. An encouraging word. (Friends, you know who you are. Thank you.) A bouquet of Queen Anne's Lace and mint.
     Brin, who blogs at My Messy Thrilling Life , has also been a comfort. Today, she's happily married, gardening, and decorating a new house. But back in 2009, she had been unemployed for four months, lost her beloved Freeman House, had her bakery close (due to someone who went out of their way to write 'KILL' on the front window, burglarized the place, then filed a formal complaint), lost her beloved grandfather, dealt with poor health, uncertainty and depression. Yet she kept on.
    In a January 2009 post, 'Thoughts on My New Year,' she says,

For the first time, I realized that God is not all about our happiness. Our wealth. Our whims. That God is not in the business of making His children successful or rich or happy. Rather, God is the business of fathering His children to maturity. He's more interested in seeing us conform our lives and ourselves into His image. Into the image of His Son. And like any good father who's trying to teach a willful, obstinate child, His lessons sometimes come at the expense of our comfort, our feelings, and our expectations...
     But now I see. Now I see! Now I see that it was during those terrible times He was the closest. Now I realize that during that time I had His hand - even if it was leading me through valleys I'd rather not venture into and waters I'd rather not wade through. But His hand held me. It held mine tightly. And we're emerging now from that awful valley, God still my patient, loving Father, but me a stronger, wiser, less selfish child. And we still have each other's hands.

"God? Are you talking to me again? You, the Master of the Universe, are speaking to this lowly child, who dared to throw an impatient temper tantrum?
     "And you're saying -- 'Be Patient. Count on Me. Trust Me.'"

     You are. You are. 

A New Way to Use Zucchini...Pie!

I could use a break. Both Monday and Tuesday were jammed tight with reports and e-mail...and NOT the Cheyenne appraisals I was supposed to be working on. (Sorry, ladies -- I will get them out today!)

Friend Sharon brought this unusual pie over for dinner recently. I was amazed at how much it tasted like apple pie. She bakes it with sugar substitute (Splenda) for her husband, who's diabetic. But it would be delicious with regular sugar, too.

And yes, it uses that scourge (or gift) of the summer: zucchini. 

Here's the recipe. Simple, huh?


Peel, core and slice 8 cups zucchini. Mix with 2/3 cup lemon juice, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 1/14 cups sugar or Splenda. Simmer till zucchini is tender. Mix in cornstarch with water to thicken.

Pour into a pastry pie crust, and top with a second crust. Bake 350 degrees 30-35 min., until lightly brown. Serves about 8.

Could you add other fruit, like rhubarb, with this? I'm betting you could. It might be worth experimenting.


(This also ran on my food-related blog, Holiday Goodies.)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Life On, Life Off

My, oh my, it's been another doozy of a week. 
    I spent most of it hanging out with the quilters of Cheyenne, WY -- but life had its share of drama, as well. The situation I thought resolved -- well, it is, sort of. And yet it isn't. Then it is -- and then it isn't. More sleepless nights are in the future, but at least one large part of it is done
    So it's on to finishing up a boatload of appraisals from Cheyenne, working on inventory for Brickworks...and doing some wash and dishes, as well as Picking Up Stuff.  Speaking of that...
    Amazing Announcement: I picked a basketful of ripe tomatoes! This is almost unheard-of, here at 6250 feet in Colorado; usually you have to pick them pink or green, then put on a windowsill and hope for the best. Certainly the extra rain early this summer helped; so did the greenhouse cover we wrapped around the raised bed, so the plants could stay warm at night. (This is one reason to envy you gardeners back East -- I still have fond memories of the dreamy bliss of biting into a sunwarmed, juicy tomato while still out in the patch. That's one thing Michigan, with its humid nights, does very well.)
    We had our first crunchy BLT of the season. Hopefully more are coming. Meanwhile:

New Anne Frank mementos found -- hidden in a cousin's attic. (New info also suggests that Anne and her sister Margot died earlier than thought in the concentration camp.)

Is it normal for stolen fine paintings to never be recovered? Yup. Which, of course, goes with this.

Ten weird stories about MIBs. (Men in Black, for you non-UFO enthusiasts.)

Junk food made into...something else. They say "culinary 5-star dishes," but really!?!
 Although I am a big fan of the "hot-dog-spaghetti ladies:"

Mothers of ISIS. (Actually, it should be Mothers Against ISIS.)

33 silly textbook mistakes. Guess the smart people aren't all that bright, after all.

Neither are these animals -- 15 of them -- trying to hide. Including this dog. (Looks like a Charley stunt.)

15 ways to shop better at Wal-Mart. (From Passionate Pennypincher)

King Tut may not have been alone. At least one researcher says there are two "ghost portals" that lead to other rooms in the King Tut complex. Could one be Nefertiri's tomb?

The 'Gidget:' a tiny camper that has the first world's pullout. Now you can pull a camper with a regular car. (Too bad it's not in the U.S. yet.)

The S.S. Georgia -- its Confederate crew sank this boat centuries ago. Now it's being raised -- in multi-ton chunks.

A whale that needed help -- so 'asked' fishermen to get a plastic bag out of its mouth.

Sunday was The Mama's birthday -- happy birthday to her, and many more! 
Have a great week, yourself.

When life gives you lemons, make...

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Keeping Up -- Moving On

Still working in Cheyenne...but it's getting better. Another long and difficult situation has been resolved...not in Cheyenne -- these people are wonderful. But in another part of my professional life. (Thank God -- and I mean that literally.) I didn't have much time to think about it today, though -- we were really hopping today with appraisals, and several extra people came in to ask about them
     Two more days for the Cheyenne Heritage Quilters show -- but only one more for me. Then home.

Looks like I'll be back here in January to do some more appraising. I'm glad to do it... but Wyoming, you need your own personal appraiser, too!

Just saw a fascinating interview with Jon Krakauer, the journalist who climbed (and nearly died) on Everest, then wrote a book about it: Into Thin Air. He has some advice for a kid who'd like to do the Seven Summits:  
       Don't do it. Don't climb Everest. "I wish I'd never gone," he says.

Go here for the live interview.

Krakauer was also in the news recently for a stinky mistake on Denali. It turns out that you are not allowed to leave your personal waste on the mountain, without bringing your own can, or cleaning it up with plastic bags, doggie-style.  If you don't -- that's a ticket.
    Poor guy. Can't anyone take a poop out in the boonies, without having someone watch you with binoculars?

Better that than dithering about potato seeds, I guess. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Still working in Cheyenne. 

Judging's done, quilts have been hung, and the show's about to open tomorrow morning.  (Go here for more.) 

A full day's appraising is done. Two more to go.

It's past midnight -- and I have at least two or three hours' work left. (sigh)

This sign was on the back door (which opens onto a grassy field) of the church where we were doing the judging:

Far be it from me to limit religious freedom!

(Thanks for the chuckle, Frontier United Methodist Church...)

Monday, August 10, 2015

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Headed for Cheyenne

Life doesn't look quite as discouraging right now. Some things haven't changed much -- but the weather has moderated some, and I am Blowing This Popsicle Stand (as one of my climbing buddies used to say) for Cheyenne and the Cheyenne Heritage Quilters show. It's bound to be a great one.
    It's going to be busy, appraisal spots are filled to the max, and people are still trying to get on the list. More about it in the next few days. 

Maybe I just need a dose of Pharrell. 

(Watched this, and felt better right away.) Meanwhile:

Eight wind turbines...and how to construct them. Even one made from a Pringles can! (From Instructables) Also:

An LED light jellyfish skirt to make! Yow.

Another dress style that glows in the dark...but you have to order this one from a designer. 
(Another check -- actually, you can make this one via Instructables, too.)


Pallets, and the tale of a summer garden. (From Scavenger Chic)

My buddette, Lindsay Lohan, is in trouble again, only a few months after she got off probation. Reportedly, she stiffed a restaurant in Greece on a $1300 bill. It was eventually paid by one of her friends...but Lindsay, in our neck of the woods, who gets stuck with the bill when the guests dine-and-dash? THE SERVER. Who makes a heck of a lot less than you. 'Nuff said.

The guy who invented Mr. Coffee just died. 

An intriguing interview with Serena Williams, who talks about the U.S. Open, her sister, and more. Plus racism: “I don’t think about it,” she says. “I don’t dwell in the past. If I do, I’ll be swallowed up by negativity. As Mandela once said, ‘I will be in a mental prison.’”

A dozen easy meals, when there's 'nothing' to eat. (From Good Cheap Eats)

Credit cards, dollar bills and other travel bugaboos. This is an old Midlife Finance post from yours truly, but especially applies, now that U.S. credit card companies are putting chips in American cards, too.

Ten money lessons learned the hard way. (The Simple Dollar)

15 dessert bar recipes. Easy to make, WAY too easy to eat. (From Betty Crocker) Including this luscious Key Lime cheesecake a brownie bar with bacon! 

A strange but effective remedy for strep throat. Wouldn't hurt to try it... (from Red and Honey)

Four people and a dog, living comfortably: in 267 sq. ft of space.  If you're curious about their everyday life, go to the blog here. (From Bless This Tiny House)

One of the finest -- if not the best -- opals ever found. Take a look at this beauty; those are natural colors you're seeing, by the way.

What your feet say about you. (According to this, I'm secretive. Oh yeah?) If you're tired of staring at your toes,
   Try your hands, instead. 

New info on the Isabelle Gardner Museum theft decades ago...and it's weird.

Random wannahaves that aren't critical...but nice. Sign me up for this clear plastic bubble anytime.

Have a great week. Stop by the quilt show in Cheyenne, if you get a chance! 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Odd Post #2

Remember last week's 'Odd Post?'

Well, here's another one. 

Things have gone better...and worse this week. 

One of my most difficult appraising jobs ever is finally in the home stretch. But there will be more screaming, yelling and fussing (not by me, incidentally) before it's done.

A pesky problem has been solved for Brickworks' sales tax collection.

The chickens are slowly starting to lay more. I hung a few ears of sweet corn, hooked on bungee cords, on the branches hanging over in their pen. They are loving this new jump-up-and-peck game.

And I have next week in Cheyenne to look forward to. The Cheyenne Heritage Quilters are having their annual show in Cheyenne, WY, August 13-15 -- stop in for a some beautiful quilts and a lot of fun!)

So why don't I feel more peaceful about it all?

Because I'm tired. And after a flush of relief earlier in the week...discouraged.

It's not fun having to deal with people who make it clear that not only do they not like you -- they don't respect you, either. (And they don't care who they tell that to.)

It's no fun to feel uncertain at times. (Although one can deal with it.)

I hate watching the Brick struggle and suffer and hurt more this week. (His job situation has not gotten any better -- if anything, it's worse.)

The Mama's health has not been that good lately. (Could well be the heat affecting her.)

James Holmes' theatre murder trial has finally ended -- and Holmes gets life without parole. He's shown mercy, even when he showed none. In Colorado (maybe everywhere?), every single member of the jury must vote for the death penalty, for the convicted murderer to be considered for it. (And they weren't unanimous. Even if they had been, the governor can come along later and pardon the person, instead. He's done it before.)
    Obviously someone felt sorry for the guy. Well, I don't. The only comfort in all this is that Holmes won't be able to skate early, like he might have if he'd been found insane.

The weather's hot, stuffy and humid...even though there's been a slight tinge in the air at night, hinting that autumn might, just might be moving in soon.

I applied for a great writing job -- thought I'd gotten it -- and this morning found out I didn't.

No energy. A counter full of dishes and piles everywhere.

Life could be a lot worse. Really. Gripe, moan, complain: mustn't grumble.

Maybe I just need go vacuum or something...and suck it up.

Weird Stuff that Works

I love weird advice. 

I've written about it a few times for Midlife Finance. Other places, too.

Over time, I've come across some unusual methods that don't seem to make sense. But at least in my experience...they work. Try these at your own risk, but I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Creamy scrambled eggs without the butter:  boil up a small pan of water. While it's heating, whisk up two or more eggs until scrambled. Then, while stirring the water in a circular motion, pour the eggs in. 
    Wait two minutes -- drain the water and enjoy.
Variation:  Pour the eggs into a plastic sandwich bag, seal and put in the boiling water 2-3 min. My cousins make omelets this way for Christmas morning breakfast, adding whatever meat, veggies and seasonings they like.

Clean a dirty painting (or non-colorfast surface) with spit. You'll need a q-tip and patience. Moisten the q-tip you-know-where, then gently stroke the surface, rolling the q-tip from side to side as you go. When it gets too dry (and mucky), then repeat with another q-tip.
    Your own spit will also take out your own (and sometimes relatives') bloodstains. Any good quilter has spent some time licking out blood, from accidentally pricking herself/himself.

Need an office? Got a closet? Even if it's got a water heater or boiler in it, building a false floor will give you the room (and privacy) you need. (From Instructables, that wonderful and wacky spot for all projects unusual.)

Does your dog keep digging (and re-digging) holes? Gather up a batch of his poop and put it in the hole. He won't dig it out again. This has worked for both Charley and his predecessors.


Got a headache? Try a drop or two of peppermint oil, gently rubbed into the sides of your temples. At the least, it will stop the pattern, and give your mind something else to focus on for a while.

In keeping with the subject, you'll find a bunch more 'kitchen myths,' thanks to Whisk Together. Some are suspect -- she suggests that milk in the carton can be left out up to a year, thanks to a 'super-homogenized process,' or something like that. Around here in Colorado, though, if you leave the carton out, the milk tastes 'dead' in a day, and starts going bad a few days after that.
    In other words... I wouldn't. 

Now, if you're talking eggs, that's a different story. During our trip to Ireland, we often saw eggs in cartons on regular shelving, even in gas stations. Turns out that eggs WILL keep out on the counter, provided you don't wash them (removes the protective 'bloom') or keep them in direct heat/light. Keeping them cold won't hurt them; it's just not critical.

Unless they're under the chicken, of course!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Diving Loss

Natalia Molchanova has disappeared. 

No, she didn't take a 'moonlight flit,' or didn't make it back home from the drugstore. Molchanova, 53, a Russian, holds 40 world records for free dives -- deep dives made while you're simply holding your breath. (It's part of the sports designation known as competitive apnea -- activities done on a single breath.)
    Last Sunday off the coast, near Ibiza, Spain, Molchanova and some friends were in the water. Nothing too exhausting or technical -- just a few dives for fun. Wearing a purple wetsuit she designed herself, Molchanova went over the side, took a few long exhales...

and vanished. 

Days later, no one has found her -- no body, no nothing. No one knows for sure what happened to this amazing woman, who held a world record for holding her breath (9 minutes, 2 seconds), as well as swimming a pool's length without taking a breath (about 778 feet -- about 378 meters, on one monofin).

Molchanova was the president of the Russian Freediving Association.

“She was a free-diving superstar, and we all thought nothing could harm her,” said Kimmo Lahtinen, the president of the global federation for free diving, known as AIDA. “Nothing could happen to her, but, you know, we are playing with the ocean, and when you play with the ocean, you know who is the strongest one.”

Sadly, this is not the only loss in recent years. In November 2013, A diver from Brooklyn, Nicholas Mevoli, dove at Dean's Blue Hole in the Bahamas, in an attempt to break the American record for free diving. 'Vertical Blue' was monitored by officials, and should have taken place without incident. Mevoli dove hundreds of feet, but had some noticeable problems -- instead of cancelling his effort, however, he only went deeper. Eventually he surfaced, attempted to give a thumbs-up (the accepted way to finish off and certify the dive), and collapsed. He died on the boat.
     Although a relative newcomer to the sport, 32-year-old Mevoli had already broken several records. His last dive: 3 minutes, 38 seconds.

     Mevoli is the only American to break the 100-meter barrier...something Molchanova accomplished, as the only woman diver, in 2013. In his "other" life, he was a prop technician for Gossip Girl and Comedy Central's Chappelle Show.

The search for Molchanova has been called off, and she's presumed dead. “It seems she’ll stay in the sea,” her son Alexey, also a free diving record-holder, said.
      “I think she would like that.”

To learn more about this incredible sport, go here. 

A free diver ascending -- note the monofin

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

How Fast Can You Pedal?

"Meals on Wheels."
    (from Humanity's Team via Facebook)

"New game! New game!"

A Very Good Egg

One of the strangest -- and most beautiful -- items to emerge from jeweler Peter Carl Faberge's workshop was the Easter Egg. These egg-shaped objects often opened to contain "surprises:" photos, objects, etc. And they were incredibly realistic.
    The Faberge Eggs are probably best-known for their association with Czar Nicholas II and Alexandra, the ill-fated heads of the Russia who were deposed and eventually murdered during the Russian Revolution in 1918. Like his father before him, Nicholas commissioned a new egg annually, as a present for his wife. Fortunate spacing, since the eggs often took up to a year to make.

     When the palaces were looted, the eggs, along with other treasures, were crated up and stored. (No doubt, for "safekeeping.") Some disappeared then, others were surreptiously taken when their owners escaped. A number were sold at bargain basement prices in the 1930s, when Stalin realized they could help fund the Bolshevik cause. One of the chief salesmen also became a major collector: Armand Hammer.
     The Faberge eggs continue to be sought-after...but now their worth has skyrocketed to millions (actually tens of millions) of dollars. Not only are they valuable in terms of materials -- they're made of gold and other precious materials, decorated with jewels, pearls and such -- but these tiny pieces retain a enigmatic link to their historical past.

Now another Faberge egg has turned up -- but in a strange way. Its owner bought the egg for the gold's scrap value -- about $500 then. The poor guy paid $14,000 for the piece, was sure he'd made a huge mistake, and was desperate to sell it. When he couldn't, he did some  research, and practically fainted when he realized what he had:

The third Imperial Faberge Easter Egg.

The egg was Tsar Alexander III’s 1887 Easter gift to his wife, Tsarina Maria Feodorovna. The 3.2-inch egg is on an elaborate gold stand supported by lion paw feet with three sapphires, with golden garlands surrounding it.

I'll buy it! I'll buy it!

  A diamond acts an opening mechanism to reveal the Vacheron Constantin watch inside.

The egg is seen here in a 1905 photo: focus on the boxed section.

Estimated value:  $33 million.  (Learn more about this fabulous piece here.)

Seven eggs still remain lost. A few have been glimpsed here and there in the recent past, mostly at locations in the U.S. Find one, and you could practically name your price: that's how rare these are.

Learn more about the existing Faberge eggs, so you know what to look for. Forty-two can be found in collections around the world. (At least 20 of those eggs belong to Russians. Go figure.) Two more are known of, but it's uncertain whether they still exist.

One of my favorites - the 1898 Lilies-of-the-Valley egg