Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Rembrandt Found?

A small oil painting of three people, one of them a fainting lady, went up for auction recently.

No big deal in art circles -- valued at $500-800.  (It had some damage, too.)




Only, after research, some believe it to be the missing "Sense of Smell" in a series based on the Five Senses, painted by a young Rembrandt c.1625.

It sold for $870,000 on Sept. 22 at Nye & Company's auction in New Jersey.


"The painting had been noticed by some in the trade... the pictures are considered to be the very first paintings made by the Old Master, possibly done while still a student in the studio of the Dutch painter Pieter Lastman." Three others in the series are owned by museums or collectors: "The Operation (Sense of Touch);" "Three Singers (Sense of Hearing);" and "The Spectacle Seller (Sense of Sight)."


More here, via the Appraiser Workshops site. Yow.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Mooning About

Colorado had a rarity Sunday night: a 'blood' moon combined with a partial eclipse. Very cool to watch...but unfortunately, we were busy listening to the Broncos kick Detroit's heinies (sorry, Michigan relatives) and forgot all about it. Here's what it looks like (the 2014 version, at least), if you're curious:


They even had a party at Boulder's Fiske planetarium to celebrate.
     Ironically, friend Constance, who is teaching at a school in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, tells me they've been celebrating their annual Moon Festival, with a moon maiden, dancing, singing and moon cakes
 
     We've got a busy week...a lot of things (like insurance) have to be resolved by the end of the month. The Brick got hit hard by an infection last week, but thankfully, the antibiotic, God's grace and a lot of rest seem to have brought him out of it. We want to go look at the fall leaves before they disappear, and are meeting the girlies for a delayed birthday supper. Meanwhile, we are having one of our warmest Septembers ever -- the temp's been averaging around 69 degrees, and much hotter in the afternoons. Considering we often get a snowstorm in September, this just seems plain weird. (Just read that Fairbanks, AK, in contrast, just got more than 6" of snow -- the most they've had in September. Go figure.)

What may be the smallest tiny house ever -- 60 sq ft!

 Are you smart enough to play dumb? (From Financial Samurai)

Troll power...what you can (and should) do about it. (From Our New Life in the Country)

A new spy tech goodie -- an electronic roach. (eewww)

'Catch the Con' quiz, hosted by Frank Abagnale. Do you know when you're being defrauded? Find out. (From AARP)

Hidden -- and brilliant -- storage solutions. Like this one, which has my vote. (From Apartment Therapy) 


Goes nicely with Apartment Therapy's seven ways to squeeze out extra space from hallways.

Challenge everything you have, and spend money on, for a year...and see what you save. (The Budgets Are Sexy guy banked more than $5000.)

Six terrible air accidents that people survived. Amazingly so. (From Cracked.com)

Pasta and sauce -- nine minutes. All in the same pan.

An Underground Railroad diary -- and you can read it online.

31 easy DIY updates that make your house look 'richer.' Including this quickie solution to making your window look bigger -- a curved shower rod!



Hopefully your fall colors are looking wonderful, too.

This is typical -- for the Western Slope, at least




Saturday, September 26, 2015

Secret Weapons That Keep the Money Coming In

...not to mention, getting ahead! 

I wrote some posts earlier this year, about staying out of debt -- and ways to get yourself out if you were.
    I promised myself that I'd share some of my secret weapons -- tricks I use over and over to keep our household budget balanced, with money stashed for the future. They're particularly important, now that my income has gone down some, and the Brick is officially retired. (Two weeks and running.)
    Our income took a nosedive when he retired, but I am not griping -- he is feeling and acting so much better already. But his body decided to give him one more smackdown first...earlier this week, he started feeling much like he had when his liver shut down, and he spent a week in the hospital. I was frightened...shoot, he was frightened. With God's grace and a dose of antibiotic, though, he is starting to come out of it.
     I am so grateful. 

The lower income is not terrifying -- we've lived on less before. But it does mean that we have to carefully consider any expenses -- and I must pay attention to how much I'm spending for food, decorating...and the business. And that's where the secret weapons come in:

*A small side job, preferably a regular one. For me, it's piano lessons. I've had anywhere from 1-6 students, each paying up to $15 weekly. (Yes, I know. That's cheap for lessons -- I don't do it to make a lot of money. I do it to hopefully pass on the music.) Even if they cancel, due to sickness or traveling (we take off August and December, too), that's $30-45 weekly. It helps fill in gaps, pays for some extras, and gives me money for guilt-free presents for the Brick.

    Even $10 extra every other week can add up. Possibilities:

    Mowing yards or shoveling sidewalks
    Babysitting (even if just filling in when the regular sitter is on vacation)
    Ironing (my mom used to do this for extra money)
    Selling meals or baked goods  (or swapping them for what's needed)
    Picking up/dropping off people from the airport  
    Dog-sitting or dogwalking (Daughter #1 pays for her college this way)
    Church nursery   (many churches are looking for people to fill, for MOPS especially)
    Selling items you've picked up cheaply at library sales, garage sales and the thrift shop 

    Once you get a regular customer and do a good job, they'll help spread the word. But there's also Craigslist and community clipboards.

We also sell eggs -- which pays for the chickies' feed and straw, plus some leftover.
     I am flirting with the idea of going to our local pizza joint, and offering to work one day a week, plus filling in for vacations and sick days. I've noticed they have a fairly high turnover, and could probably use the help. Plus I'm hoping for free leftover pizza! Call it silly, but I have always wanted to work in a pizza place. (And, knowing me, write about it...can't help myself.)
     Keep this money separate. Use part of it to help fund your savings, then stash the rest in a tin. (I use a sugarbowl, as a joke.) 'Found money' goes here, too. It will build up.



*Clearance sections. If you're not checking at the grocery store every time you stop in for milk, you're wasting prime opportunities to save. Grocery stores are not allowed to sell spoiled food -- if something tastes 'off,' then bring the label next time you stop in, and ask for your money back. My local King Soopers has marked-down areas in deli, meat, seafood, dairy...and canned/boxed foods plus produce. The local Safeway has a clearance area for freezer items, too.
     Don't forget the floral section, either. I just bought a dozen roses for a dear friend who lost her father: $3.00. (One rose had accidentally snapped off in the bunch.) Sprouts has especially good deals on flowers -- they'll mark plants and bouquets down to 99 cents.
     Best time to check: Wednesday night isn't bad, for 'old' sale items. I do best, though, late on Sunday evenings. More ideas here, too.

     There's also the discount outlet store. Ours is 45 min. drive away, though, and only open on Fridays and Saturdays. However, it's not far from the drive to see Daughter #2 in Boulder. Guess what days I often choose to go visit her?



*Going 'tomorrow.' This is a new weapon that's been surprisingly effective. If I need something, I'll put it off until 'tomorrow,' when I can get it for a better price...or make a trip with several errands, instead of just one. The one exception: when your coupon or the sale is about to expire. (If your freezer is full, and it's an especially good price, odds are excellent that the item will not be in stock on the last day. Get a raincheck, instead -- and let the store 'keep' your item until you're ready for it.)
     This also encourages you to adapt recipes (often with better results!) and see if you really need that item, after all. Often, you don't.
      
*Stocking up on things you use over and over...IF they're at a great price. Canned soup, chicken feed, toilet paper and frozen pizza all fall into this category. (This is where the extra money you earned from that occasional job comes into play.)

*Want to see the latest movie? Here's where 'tomorrow' plays in. Go to the discount show...or wait until it hits the dollar movie theater. (Or look for a good Groupon deal.) Watch it on video...borrowed from the library. Or if you really want  your own copy, buy it on Amazon, or at Wal-Mart's or Tar-jay's  Black Friday sales.



*Buy high quality only if you're going to use it regularly Otherwise, dollar store stuff works just fine. (I do buy classier items, like paper napkins, at discount places like Tuesday Morning.)
    This applies to clothing (especially sweaters and boots), tools, things like that. And, if possible:

*Buy your high quality items on sale...or used. If there's a good sale, that's great. (Especially after-season items...summer clothes and beach gear are on deep discount right now.) But if you buy high-end items used, odds are good that any potential problems have already been repaired. All you're out is the 'new car' smell -- and often you've saved a LOT. If you can use that item over a period of years, you'll save even more.
     Do your research. (We bought our Subaru Outback this way -- for such a steal that the local dealer kept trying to buy it from us.) Find the brands, makes and models with the best reputations, then look for them at:

*Thrift shops or Craigslist spots in high-income areas: one of your best weapons. These people have money to burn -- or spend like they do. Let them break in that cashmere sweater or portable sander...then you swoop in and generously take it off their hands. (If it's Craigslist, never pay first. ALWAYS dicker; you can pay full price later on, if you must.) I'm not the only one who feels this way, btw.

*Borrowing --and lending -- with people you can trust. Good friends and family members are tops on this list, but we also swap dog-sitting and checking-on-the-house duties with neighbors. Reciprocating is important here. So are sharing items you've gotten a bargain on -- like the boxes of peaches we just got on our trip to the Western Slope. (One of our neighbors never returns a dish without including cookies or a loaf of bread in it. Another just stopped by, with a bouquet of lilies and a "Happy Fall" note -- now, that's the kind of thank-you I like!)

*Do it yourself. Berries, deer meat, greens...all make regular appearances in our kitchen. No, we do not live on a country estate -- Home Depot's roof is just down the hill from our place. But we do have a backyard with a chicken coop in one corner, and a garden in the other. (If you live in the city, grow your spinach and rosemary in a pot on your windowsill.)
    Make your own repairs, sew on your own buttons...and if something is beyond your capability, swap with someone who knows how. (And loves cheesecake, or needs his dog walked.) If you don't know anyone like that, ask your friend at work...or your neighbor...or somebody at church. You'll find just the person you need --with not that much effort.

*Never miss a chance to research and plan ahead. Thinking about going to see your mom in the near future? You should be looking NOW for good plane tickets. (Frontier and others have had some interesting $29-plus offers lately.)
     Planning on turkey for Thanksgiving? Forecasters are saying that since turkey flocks have been hard-hit with sickness lately, turkey prices will be going up 20% -- or more. If you're getting one, you might want to buy it now. (Or think about serving ham, instead -- hogs are overstocked, according to the same forecasters.)
     You'll find the best vacation pricing this way -- the best sales on computers to cars -- and have what you need (and can afford) for gifts, home decorating and future plans -- IF you think ahead. (I kind of enjoy this, too...it's like seeing the floor already tiled or the living room painted, or taking a vacation even before you hop on the train.)

*Unclutter -- then repurpose. I have been cleaning off shelves lately...and finding everything from dozens of shipping envelopes (my staffer thought we were out) to a pair of heavy wool hunting socks, still in their original packaging. (Those will go in Keith's Christmas pile.) Extra items can be donated, and the cost taken off your taxes. Other items can be stripped down -- a high-end silk blouse, for example, often gives you a yard or so of fabric, plus quality buttons to reuse. In the Desperate Old Days, people would buy damaged wool sweaters, unravel them, and re-knit or crochet into gloves and scarves. If that mohair sweater is too small, why couldn't you, too?



And the best weapon of all?

*Be willing to adapt. Sometimes that change out of necessity ends up being the best thing that could happen to you.







   

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Alphabetical Confusion

...sadly, this is true.




Same goes for the 50 states -- I have to sing Fred Waring's song for that. 



Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Want to Work On Your Uptown Funky Walk?

Bruno Mars' Uptown Funk combined with 100 different dance scenes... amazing.
    Including the original Footloose, Singin' in the Rain and one of my favorite Charlie Chaplin movies, Gold Rush.

(Warning:  some swear words and inappropriate stuff here. Just want you to know, before you wade into it.) 

But funny -- and catchy -- nonetheless. Enjoy.




Why The Chiefs/Broncos Game Ended the Way It Did Last Weekend




...and now you know.

We here in Broncoland are further stunned by CU's win over CSU in overtime last week.
    Maybe the Force IS strong right now in Colorado!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Happy Birthday!

Get down and boogie...


Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: More of Same

It's one of the loveliest times in Colorado right now.
     Still hot (ergh) during the days, but the evenings are cooling off. And the light is the clearest and loveliest...it makes things, including our developing golden fall colors, just glow. I've read nature people who gush about "the air being just like wine." Well, in this case, they're right.
    I've been putting dozens of (unpaid) hours into a high-priority issue ever since May. It's taken away from work I should have been doing, instead, and sucked off a lot of my energy and resources. It's also made a substantial dent in my business. 
    Looks like it's going to be a quiet fall.  

At least this week's version of "Stuff" is bigger -- enjoy.



She's a lumber-er, Jill...and she's ok. A look at women in logging. Inspired by, of course:


Five surprising facts about Gilligan's Island. Surely I can't be the only person who can still rattle off the words to the theme song...

Ten archaeological 'discoveries' that were actually fakes. I always wondered about Drake's plate...

Keep on keeping on. (From Messy Thrilling Life)

The best bank savings account in 2015 -- at least according to Wiser Saver.

Seven hikers ignore a flash flood warning and get a permit for Zion National Park. Hours later, they're swept away by...you guessed it.

Natural homemade dishwasher detergent tablets. I want to try these. (From Five Little Homesteaders)

Slow-cooker... breakfasts?!?  Yep, from our buddette, Betty Crocker.

Tiny houses -- the legal aspects. (From Tiny House Blog)

Prefabs assembled in ten days or less.  (From Dwell) Including this LEAPfactory home:



People who were wrongfully accused of terrible crimes.  (From Listverse)

Getting yourself to think and act decisively. (From The Frugalwoods)

The winners from the American Quilter's Society Chattanooga show.  
      Plus a very cool free train pieced quilt pattern from AQS.

Why you shouldn't buy a vacation property. (From Financial Samurai -- who did)

A new job that pays great -- doing voiceovers.   (From Budgets Are Sexy).

Dogs and camping: an Instagram photo essay. 

I'd forgotten just how funny this "William and Kate" spoof of the royal wedding, courtesy of T-Mobile, could be.


Five very expensive payoffs from the stars of Pawn Stars. At least two ended up being stolen property.

Walking tacos: fast, easy, delicious. Great for groups, too. (From Picky Palate)

Hard times? "The purest ore is produced from the hottest furnace." (From Messy, Thrilling Life)

Ten famous people who were almost killed during 9/11. Mark Wahlberg was one of them. (From Listverse)
    Also from Listverse:

Ten incredibly brave actions, taken in wartime against all odds. (Read Is Paris Burning? for one of them.)

Best investing advice for beginners. Thirteen different experts weigh in on this. (From College Investor)


Have a great week.




Thursday, September 17, 2015

Think About It...



Life is full of ironies. The people who hurt you, hate you, despise you, look for faults in you now, are the ones who may need you later on.
                                                                     ----adapted from Ismail Menk





or....maybe not!    :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Engineer's Viewpoint






Being married for thirtysome years to the Brick, who practiced mechanical engineering (controls) for decades, and is still a registered P.E., has given me insight on this. (When I worked at Quilter's Newsletter magazine, we once took a poll. It turned out that all of us Editorial types were partnered with either engineers or computer people, with one exception -- and that person was an artist. Go figure.)

Want a shirt of your own...or for your favorite mechanical engineer? Go here for more.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Put A Little Rainbow in Your Life

...or at least on your Halloween costume.

The newest issue of Real Simple showed the cutest rainbow costume, made from strips of those 'pool noodles' you can find at the dollar store.

Then I found this version on that ever-useful site, Instructables:


How-tos are there, as well.

Or maybe a crocheted rainbow coin purse, if you're in a fiber mood, instead.




How-tos are here.  (Also from Instructables)

Quilters everywhere are using rainbow-colored pool noodles for another use:
       Storing and displaying rolled quilts! 

Here's how to do it.

Grab an armful of pool noodles in a variety of colors. Wrap them in muslin, wherever they would touch your quilt -- stitch muslin in place.
    Now carefully roll the quilt onto the noodle, patchwork side out. (Don't pull tight, just gently roll.)
    Tie loosely with a cloth tie.
Display vertically, along with your other quilted beauties, in a large basket, pot or can. Or stack them, like a piled version from Pop Sugar.  (Other uses for pool noodles are in this series, too.)

Everyone could use a rainbow in the chilly days ahead. 






For All Those in Education

The Brick just retired from the transportation department at Douglas County Schools. He laughed when he heard this answering machine message from a Queensland, Australia school...




Teachers, aides and bus drivers work incredibly hard. Let's give them a break!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Monday Stuff on the Way to Other Stuff: Resolved

I had a great time in Granby, CO last week with the Peaks n' Pines guild. After working so hard for months on end, just being with them was like returning to old friends. Thank you, ladies, for EVERYTHING.
     The Brick had his first day as a free man today, after retiring last Friday. He spent it watching movies, snoozing and working on the computer. He's already looking more relaxed.
     And me?  Another boatload of appraisals to get out...a quilt to finish binding, plus another restoration job...and some writing deadlines. I feel a bit drained, but determined to get everything done in good time, in spite of the hot days and regular chores. The Brick is headed to a men's retreat this weekend, which will give me more time to get stuff done. Meanwhile:


Eleven items under $25 you want for your home. I'll vote for the bed risers and One Really Good Cookbook anytime. (From Apartment Therapy

Nine things that everybody thinks exist...but don't. Pool dye that reveals the presence of urine? Nope. Cow tipping? Nada....through the brontosaurus, of all things, was on this list for a while. (Thankfully, it's back, as of April 2015.)

More weird stuff about James Holmes. He's by himself in a single cell, gets hundreds of pages of mail from besotted fans, etc etc.  One of the best parts of this article are the profiles of the people he murdered -- you can get to know them better.

Hollywood homes that go from star to star to star. Fascinating.

Clever (and unusual) ways to use door handles and hardware. Including this one, from IKEA.

Yes, this is a kitchen drawer pull


This gem from Handy Ma'am -- five surprising ways to clean your toilet!


I know -- the list is a little short this week. I'll do better next...have a good one. 




Wednesday, September 9, 2015

True, True

36 'beauty memes' found on the Internet, including this one:





They're probably talking to the socks.

Do You Live Near Granby, Colorado?

Come join me tomorrow night (Thursday) at the Peaks n' Pines Quilt Guild for a very unusual talk:

"Cheating, Stealing and Other Tricks of Quilt Restoration"

I'll be covering some unique ideas for getting exact matching fabric to restore your quilt --

    a spot cleaning method that works wonders --

And one of the best stitches for quilt restoration, the "Frankenstein stitch."

Sign-in's at 6 p.m.; the business meeting starts soon after. Yours truly will be on-stage after that.


St John the Baptist Episcopal Church
390 E. Garnet Ave. 
Granby, CO 80446



Go here for more. 





Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Working

Yes, it's Wednesday. I know. We've been on the Western Slope -- a fancy Colorado phrase for "up in the mountains past the Continental Divide." We camped on the Grand Mesa. It rained, but mostly at night (including a pelting hailstorm one morning). But the woods -- crisp pine and fresh air. Fishing, and campstove meals of bacon and eggs. (The latter from the chickies, of course.) We finished up the trip with a long soak at Glenwood Hot Springs. It was tremendously relaxing.
    Palisade, nearby on the Western Slope, is just finishing up its peach harvest. We brought home boxes and boxes, to process for the winter and pass on to friends and family. 
    We came home late last night, muddy and tired, with car smelling like a fruit stand. Colorado peaches just can't be beat, for sweetness and juicy texture.
     Now it's on to the Brick's last three days of work -- and a full week of work for me, as well. Had better get to it...

40 things that could be done for free (or nearly free). Some of these are on the Brick's personal horizon. (From The Simple Dollar)

A whole BUNCH of paintings stolen in 2009 have been recovered, thanks in part to a 50,000 pound reward posted.

Sweetheart pincushions -- a quick historical look, and visual exhibit. (From Barbara Brackman's blog)

19 successful people with REALLY weird habits. Like Steve Jobs, who ate carrots or apples only for weeks on end...and thought that meant he didn't have to bathe or use deodorant much. (According to co-workers, he needed to.)

Six big-time public failures by so-called psychics. Including our buddy and yours, Uri Geller.

Five 'reality' TV shows that are actually staged. I knew about 'Pawn Stars' after one of my appraisal clients mentioned her visit to Vegas. They stopped by the store, and while browsing, were asked if they wanted to be on the show. Turns out it's on a stage set nearby...though the store owners will grab people who come into the store, and use them on the show, instead.

Morning breakfasts that can be made ahead of time. (From Heavenly Homemakers)

You are who you are.  Simple...but profound. (From Moneysaving Mom)

Are these new photos and video of the Loch Ness Monster? Who knows...


Hopefully you had a chance to rest on Labor Day...and the rest of the week is equally peaceful. I'm eating peaches -- and thinking of you. 



Friday, September 4, 2015

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

Give your mind and heart some rest. The world will still keep turning on its axis...promise.





You can start up again next week.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Antero

Daughter #2 and Keith, her partner, have been prospecting on Mt. Antero again. If you've seen the tv series "Prospectors" on the Weather Channel...well, you've seen Mt. Antero, too. Rocks, rocks and more rocks...slippery as all getout, with lots of altitude thrown in.




These photos are almost as good as going there. (Note: used with Daughter's permission. If you want to use them too, you need to ask.)  The dog is Karma, one of Charley's favorite chewing buddies.


Yes, it really does look like this out there.

In Case You're Wondering...

    We're still here. 



I'm still doing my job -- in fact, I just sent out a boatload of appraisals today. More are on the schedule next week.

Some restoration work for a few clients...a collection committee meeting for the local museum...

    And then a trip to Granby to lecture and do some more appraising. That part of my life is very busy right now. I take this job --and my reputation -- seriously. I work hard at it.

Some writing is waiting -- but also a few days of blessed time to sew. Whatever I want, for hours if I want. Some curtains first, I think...yards of sheer silk overlaid with tasseled circles have been waiting. I can see them blowing gently in the breeze, the tassels swaying in the sunshine.

     The time's coming...I just have to hang in there a bit longer.

The Brick gave his notice at work. He has two more weeks before his new life begins. He came home from work today, and plopped down, a big smile on his face. "You have no idea how wonderful it is," he said, "to have a boss who no longer can touch you."

    Life goes on, doesn't it...and it is very much worth persevering for.






    

Spring? What Spring??

As of early Saturday afternoon, we have more than a foot of snow on the ground -- and it's still coming down. It literally happene...