Thursday, June 30, 2016

Cutting Your Summertime Food Costs

     Summer's a perfect time not only to save money on your food costs now -- but in the near future. A few easy ideas can help. (Special note: they're also healthy ones!)

*Grow a garden. But if you can't...

*Take advantage of easily available (and therefore often on sale) fruits and vegetables. Especially fruit. Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are often on June sale flyers in my neck of the woods. In Michigan, The Mama lives a mile from a huge pick-your-own strawberry farm that has even better prices. Stuff yourself with fresh fruit, then throw at least three or four bags in the freezer, as well. (Wash 'em, slice if needed, bung them in a ziploc bag. That's it.)
     Try this blueberry crostada now.  (See update note below.) Make two -- freeze one unbaked. Think how nice warm blueberry pie will sound one rainy autumn night, when you're cold, tired and hungry!

* don't have extra cash to be buying extra fruit? Can you:
        -- eat off what's already in your freezer or pantry, then use the cash saved?
        -- make a swap with the seller? (Offer to work at the farmer's market. Offer to babysit, bring by a hot supper, or help pack up at day's end. Most sellers are more than willing to dicker, or pay in vegetables, because then they don't have to haul them back home.)
        -- offer to go to a pick-your-own place for a friend or relative who's working? Suggest: "I'll pick the fruit, you pay for it and we'll split it."  Your friend will get fruit at a much better price than the supermarket. Fresher, too.
       -- glean fruit, from trees in your neighborhood, or throwaways from the ground?  (Ask first.) We don't have much wild fruit here -- it's too dry -- but we still have plums and chokecherries. Your area may be much more productive than that.

Note:  Our favorite discount market, the Friday/Saturday store, yielded 6 boxes of blueberries at 35 cents each -- enough for three large blueberry crostadas. The same trip got enough leeks (50 cents a pound, $2 total) for three quart-sized bags of sliced leeks, for future meals of vichyssoise. Yum.

*Follow the fruit season, for even better prices.  When the cantaloupe ('muskmelons') start coming up from Rocky Ford, about mid-August, I'll buy an extra one, chunk it, and put it in the freezer. Then for a special dinner, I'll buzz the chunks in the blender, along with a little water and sugar, for a 'fruit gelato' that's incredible.
      In Colorado, peaches start producing in late August - mid-September. We buy a bushel, give them to friends, and eat them like crazy; the taste of a fresh, ripe peach must be a little what heaven is like.
      Peaches are also easy to process: slice them in half and remove the pit, then into the bag for the freezer. Or just put them in, pit and all. You'll want to use these half-frozen, but they taste far better than commercially frozen fruit. And if you buy them on sale, from a farmer's market, or even better -- from the farmer him/herself -- you'll pay far less.

*Stock up on the basics. A large bag of onions keeps for weeks. Potatoes keep even longer -- we often buy 50 pounds, then store them downstairs in the basement, where it's cool and dark. Potatoes are on the list of 8 'superfoods' that cost less than a buck a serving. They're easy to fix, and if you go easy on butter and sour cream, they're also surprisingly low-calorie. There's even a  potatoes diet.
     Don't forget about other staples, like sweet potatoes, squash and pumpkin. They also store well. But buy them on sale.

*Watch for 'signature' food sales.  Turkey's not the only thing that magically goes on sale during the holidays! Hot dogs and steaks typically cost less around Memorial Day and the Fourth of July -- but so do all kinds of ice cream products. (Melons often follow this pattern, as well -- but I can't do as much with watermelon, because of the Brick. He grew up in North Carolina, eating melon until it literally ran out his ears...and refuses to touch it now. Ever try to eat a large melon by yourself?)

     Pork chops have also been especially well-priced this doubt because they grill so beautifully. Side items like barbecue sauce and baked beans are often on sale too. And they store very well.
     Sometimes you'll also find oddball sales. More than once, I've stocked up on canned soup, for example, because it's suddenly at a screaming price. Are the soup manufacturers desperate for money? Clearing out stock? I don't care -- it just means less spent for us.
     Seasonally-decorated items, like cakes and cookies, but also napkins and other paper products, are usually half-price (or more) when the holiday ends. All the better for the budget!

*Keep pantry items that do more than just season food. Vinegar preserves cucumbers, makes a mean salad dressing...but also, thinned with water, can be used as a rinse to keep your hair clean and shining.  Stock some baking soda, as well, and you've not only got the means to make biscuits, cakes and muffins -- combined, vinegar and baking soda are a very effective cleaner.

Take advantage of easy recipes that taste good. Leanne Brown's Good and Cheap cookbook was written originally to help food stamp recipients. But her recipes have become a great way to use summer's bounty, as well. Go here to buy a copy -- or download a free one. (She welcomes donations, too.)  Many of these, like the blueberry crostata above, also freeze well.

Plan right, and you save money all summer, using these tips. Plan even better, and you've got extra for the coming months, too.

UPDATE:  I made this for supper -- and it is one of the best blueberry pies I've ever done. I did adapt it somewhat. Half a recipe made one pie/tart enough for 5-6 servings, using two small containers of blueberries. (No lemon -- no sense diluting that rich berry flavor.) The water's needed for the crust, not the filling -- and grating the butter beforehand works surprisingly well. 
     It took longer to bake than the recipe says. (About 45 minutes.) And a lot of liquid came out of the berries. (I poured some out, and the remainder didn't seem to hurt the crust any.) The crust stayed crispy, in spite of it. (It didn't stick, either -- I didn't use any paper, but greased the pan beforehand.)
      REALLY good flavor. 
     I plan to make another blueberry crostada for the freezer, then use this recipe for the rest of the fruit that comes along. The raspberry version should be excellent...ummm.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

He Won!

We have a great admiration for Darryl Glenn, a candidate for the Republican senatorial spot for Colorado.

Turns out we weren't the only ones.

He won the Republican spot!  And did it handily by beating out several others (from the Machine, as the Brick noted) with more publicity, endorsements and  much heftier campaign funds.  Glenn's staff was all-volunteer, and his money much more modest.  (More here about that. I think that says a lot about him, to begin with.)


Finally -- a candidate I actually want to volunteer for.

If he did it yesterday, under great odds, it will be very interesting to see how he fares against our incumbent, Michael Bennett.

Go, Darryl. You can do it.

More Quilt Hunks

I have had so much fun with these, particularly the Ryan Gosling memes; that moony face rocks 'em so well. Thought you'd enjoy more.

(Feel the steam rising off that one?)

Hey girl. No I didn't fall asleep while you were describing your upcoming sewing and craft projects. I just closed my eyes to visualize them better. They look amazing.:

Hey girl, Of course I don't mind folding and organizing all of your fabric. And when I'm done - let's go shopping for more.:

Hey girl. ♥:

I couldn't help it, I added this one, too...

I found the perfect 'hey girl' meme @wackyeileen:


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Rules: What They're For, What They Aren't

This applies to you, crafting and quilting friends, more than you think. Many of the great teachers bumbled into their 'trademark' techniques -- sometimes because they made a 'mistake' that turned out to be better than the original! 
    So don't EVER feel you have to apologize and/or explain your work. You may just be a little ahead of your time.

Learn The rules...  » Design You Trust. Design, Culture & Society.:

Monday, June 27, 2016

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Primaries--and Darryl Glenn

Colorado's primary election is tomorrow.
     Surely I can't be the only person in America who is irritated when I'm told who the 'winners' are in American political races before I've even had the chance to vote. Because of the time difference, Western states go through this every national election. Winners sometimes give victory speeches even before the polls close here. (Californians and others, an hour behind us, have it even worse.)

     Several times, this was NOT the case. Like Truman's candid, after his presidential race:

Who was that Dewey guy, anyways?? (smirk)

     Perhaps Donald Trump won't be the Republican candidate for president. Perhaps Hillary Clinton won't be the Democratic candidate -- because she'll be indicted, and deservedly so. (Daughter #1 believes this is going to happen anyways, either before, during or after Hillary's flirtation with the White House.) 

     It would just be nice to have voting be an action that actually means something. Not just a foregone conclusion.

     The Brick actually saw this happen, when he was a member of Colorado's Republican state delegate meeting a few months ago. The accepted 'candidates' of The Machine had already made their speeches, flags and signs waving, when a single person walked to the podium and gave a speech. He wasn't surrounded by toadies, didn't have an expensive suit on, and didn't make airy promises -- he just talked. 

    According to the Brick, this man not only made sense, he made good sense. And although Dave had never heard of him before, he voted for him.
    So did the guy next to him.
    And, I'm assuming, the woman next to him. Because against all odds, this man is on the current ballot as the primary Republican candidate. (There are others listed -- but the Brick tells me these former darlings of The Machine are all write-ins.) 
    The candidate for Senator that I'm talking about? Yes, it's

Darryl Glenn.

He's given both the Brick and myself hope that there are still real people out there who care about our state and its future. If you're voting in Colorado's primary, I urge you to consider voting for this man.


Faithful dogs -- a long, wonderful list, including animals who kept waiting for their masters, and working dogs. Many good stories here.

It's all in the plating -- fast food arranged to look fahncy.

Looters get their just ancient Pompeii. A new discovery.

One word -- famous last words. (From Mental Floss)

The rest of the story -- from a number of famous recent news reports that just 'happened' to leave out some of the most important stuff. (From

A man lies about escaping from Auschwitz -- for decades -- and finally gets caught. Hmm...that's a new twist on stolen valor.

Pasta un Gobbola Tabola...I guess you're supposed to eat it for the Feast of St. Joseph (March 19) -- but it sounds like fun any day!

'Profound' quotes by celebrities. Be impressed by these highfalutin' comments. Uh huh. Sure. You betcha. (From Death and Taxes)

'America is full of high-earning poor people.' Do you agree?

Men in Black are pestering an area in Iowa?

When 'cheap' for a funeral actually means 'respectful.'

'Chekhov,' Anton Yelchin, in the latest Star Trek movies, killed by his own car. Weird.

45 feisty (and memorable) lines said in real life. (From

Would you return something after a decade of use...because the store has a 'lifetime guarantee?' (From Surviving and Thriving)

Have a great week. 

"If you grow up thinking that government, or the man, is keeping you down, then you're already putting up an artificial ceiling."
— Darryl Glenn

Friday, June 24, 2016

A Marked Woman

Mental Floss just did a 'retrobituary' (a short biography, really) on a very unusual girl: Olive Oatman.

Olive Oatman1.jpg

Unusual in that she was captured by Indians in her early teens.

     Treated as a slave.
     Purchased from the original Indian tribe by another tribe.
     Treated as a family member.  (And tattoed on the chin, so she'd remember who she was related to.)
Not willing to go back to her 'other' family, even though she had opportunities.

     She finally did -- reluctantly. She married a wealthy rancher and had a child, but doesn't seem to have been that happy.  (Here's her story on Wikipedia.)

Shades of Cynthia Parker -- the white captive who was the mother of one of the West's bravest and most notorious Comanche chiefs:  Quanah Parker.  

Cynthia Ann Parker.jpg
Here she is, with her daughter, Prairie Flower -- the nursing image was no doubt intended to shock.
He did not meet with her after she was recaptured and brought back to 'civilization.' But he never forgot her, either.  An intelligent, cunning and fascinating man.

Quanah Parker c1890.png
All images are antiques, pictured in Wikipedia

Both stories are interesting, and give you food for thought. What if they'd just been left alone, to live out their lives with their chosen tribe?
   But if I'd been the parent or sibling of either these 'captive' women, I wouldn't have felt that way...

Brexit...Is This An Opportunity?

I feel a little ashamed -- griping and moaning about a stupid tooth, when Europe's got a lot worse situation to think about. So do we as Americans, for that matter.

(The penicillin must be taking hold, because I'm finally starting to feel better. Thanks for your kind comments, by the way.)

If you haven't been paying attention to international events --

Great Britain just had a HUGE vote on whether to stay in the European Union (EU), or return to being independent.  BREXIT, they called it.

And the independents won. It wasn't a clearcut victory: nearly the same amount of voters thought the UK should 'remain.' (Unlike Scotland's recent un-vote for independence. Now loyalists there are agitating for another referendum.)

   David Cameron, the UK's Prime Minister, resigned. "This is how a political life ends: with a crash, not a whimper," said Scottish journalist Alex Massie. "David Cameron's place in history is now assured. He is the man who took the United Kingdom out of the European Union." Which is exactly what Cameron didn't want.
    (No news on whether Queen Elizabeth and her pack of royals will follow suit...but I doubt it.) 

What this all means --
     No one knows for certain.

But it certainly means instability, not only for other countries in the EU, but for financial markets there. Here, too.
    Lloyds Banking Group (LYG), one of Britain's primary banks, lost nearly 30% in stock value, at one point. (It's currently up a few percentages from that.)
    The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which has had a number of financial mishaps in recent years, lost more than 20%.
     The British pound took a hit: more than 12% down.

And the NYSE  plunged more than 400 points.   More here on the general situation.
    (More here, too.)

Ironically, all this brouhaha also means --

Remember what Warren Buffett said about this kind of atmosphere?

I won't be going hogwild until the market stabilizes somewhat, but I do think this is a perfect time to load up on some quality stocks that were unnecessarily affected.  (Check, check and recheck your research and numbers first. But you should be doing that, anyways.)

I bought some Lloyds stock today.
Hopefully, there will be a nice profit on it in the near future.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Keeping On Keeping On

My face aches. I have work to do. I ache.

Gotta keep running...

Chicken Updates

I would love to say that now the root canal's done, all is wonderful.
    But it's not. 

I must really have had a lot of infection in there, because once it was released, I went into full "going to have the flu" mode. And my jaw has ached so much that I've had little sleep all week.
     Fortunately, I have a pencillin prescription that's starting. And THAT, hopefully, will do the trick.

Those of you who follow the chronicles of our chicken flock need an update. 
     Nothing's happening.

Actually, half the flock has gone into "I'll lay an egg when I feel like it" mode, which is incredibly frustrating. They pig down the feed and extra goodies. (Protein really has made a difference in egg-eating tendencies. We give them freezer-burned meat and fish, peanuts and the occasional can of tuna or mackerel.) They clear away any weeds I throw in, and are drinking water like crazy.
     They're just not laying eggs consistently. 

I'll lay when I feel like it!

Some of the chickens are cooperating -- including one of the 'babies,' now 1 1/2 years old, which consistently lays white eggs. (The others lay brown eggs.) The rest of the flock are molting and making noisy pests of themselves. Kind of like this selection from the Punk Rock Homesteaders:

Perhaps they need to be reminded  of the alternatives.

We didn't get chicks this spring, because we're planning on moving sometime in the next twelve months. So we just have older chickens -- some of them 5 years old. Which is ancient for a chicken.

And I sure don't want them thinking about doing this:

So we toddle along, putting out feed and filling the waterer. Throwing in snacks. (Friends Jeff and Renee donated four mice they trapped in their backyard. Chicken frenzy ensued -- these little 'dinosaurs' LOVE fresh meat.)

And hoping they eventually get the message: MORE EGGS.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Twenty Ways to Sew A Pillowcase

Why should you care?

Because it's a great way to stitch a "just-for-you" gift quickly. Especially when it's too hot to make a quilt. (Or you haven't got time to.)

And with nearly two dozen ways to do it, there's bound to be a method you like.

Go here for specifics, thanks to Cami at Tidbits.

20 Ways to Sew a Pillowcase

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Charley's Car Rides

Sir Charles and his 'pet' Abby LOVE car rides.

It's so hot now, though, that I only take them if I'm stopping for a few minutes.

No matter -- they love it. Just like:

Monday (Ok, Tuesday) Stuff on the Way to Other Stuff: Root Canal

     "You've got an abcessed tooth," the doctor said. "Maybe two."  Why didn't you take care of this a year ago, he implied.
     A year ago, I was in the middle of the biggest professional challenge I've ever endured. Back then, dental problems were last on the list of things to worry about. Now that's in the past, thank God, but the abcessed tooth's gotten worse. Not only did I need a root canal (two of them on the same tooth, actually), but I've had some bone loss. 
     Fortunately, the damage was minor, compared to what the doctor initially thought. (Although I don't want to get smacked in the jaw on that side anymore...) After a morning's drilling and poking, I have an empty tooth filled with antibiotic, a painful jaw and the remnants of a headache from the anesthetic. Plus a future visit to look forward to. 
    Not to mention $250 or so in charges. (Thank God, again, for dental insurance.) 
    My dentist said, "Have you been feeling rundown these past months?" When I admitted I had, he said, "Once you get this infection out of your system, you'll be feeling a lot better." 
    I'm looking forward to it. 

Another foolish person steps off the trail...and falls into a hot spring at Yellowstone. Don't people ever learn?

A haunted connection with a lace trim factory. (From Seeks Ghosts)

Got debts? Just walk away...that's the thing to do, right?  (From The Simple Dollar) Apparently Tori Spelling thought she could get away with doing just that.

Double barn doors -- easier to make than you'd think, thanks to these plans. (From Infarrantly Creative)


The 'authentic' papyrus that "proves" Jesus was married is a fake. Go figure.

Ten important archeological discoveries that were pretty much accidental.  (From Listverse)

Two huge Texas sinkholes...are gradually turning into one.

Incredible old photos with fakes or CGI. (From

Six disasters whose real details are a lot creepier than you think. Including items from Pearl Harbor, the sinking of the Titanic, and the Challenger explosion.  (From Listverse)

Do you have a Ticketmaster account? They just lost a big class action lawsuit, and are giving out free tickets, as a result. Check your account. You may have some waiting.  (From Moneysaving Mom)

Have a great week.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Brother, Can You Spare A Double Eagle?

This 20-dollar gold piece from the New Orleans Mint is a beauty.

Technically, it's known as a 1856-O AU55 PCGS Secure Liberty Double Eagle

Liberty Double Eagles, 1856-O $20 AU55 PCGS Secure. Variety 1....

It was thought to be the rarest issue from the New Orleans Mint, but apparently its 1854-0 counterpart is right up there, too. Only 23 examples are thought to exist of this coin.

Want to own one? King Farouk did, back in 1943, for $135. Recently, though, this example sold for $364,250.
     And change.  

It was part of  nearly $14 million in coins, sold at Heritage Auctions' June 2016 Long Beach, CA Expo. 

Click here, or on the link above, for more. Yow.

Liberty Double Eagles, 1856-O $20 AU55 PCGS Secure. Variety 1....

Friday, June 17, 2016

Plugging Away

Back home from going Crazy with the Pine Needles Quilt Guild in Wrightwood, CA...I had a great time, friends! Hope you did, too.

Spent the day washing clothes, ironing and generally trying to catch up. More to go, but I keep reminding myself:

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Engineer's Guide to Cats: The Sequel

I've been meaning to show you this great followup to two of my favorite subjects: 
      Engineers and Cats.

(I've been living with an engineer for thirty-plus years now...cats, not quite so long.)
If you haven't seen the first one in the series, start here:

Otherwise, go straight to the sequel. May both types live long and 'paws'per!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

That's because, in this kind of weather, you get to sweat everything, instead. Boy, is it hot here. The exception are thunderstorms...which often arrive, accompanied by hail and tornadoes. 
     The Brick has the swamp cooler going full blast, which is a help. We drink a lot of iced tea, and have been watching the BBC "Raffles" series, about a British thief who's 'almost' ethical. (He tends to steal because England or cricketers have been insulted. I can't explain it -- you'll have to check it out for yourself.) Why does that make life cooler? Because it's often foggy or raining for Raffles. And that makes our living room seem a bit more bearable, at least. (So do the thunderstorms, for that matter.)
    The good news: I got a big chunk of weeding done, and a new section of the garden planted. (turnip greens, shallots, climbing purple beans, pumpkins and squash) The beans, cucumbers and more squash are already popping up! (It seemed a little silly to be shouting this to the Brick -- but there you go.)
    The chickens are unaffected by this muggy weather -- except their watering pan gets low more quickly than ever. They're starting to molt, though, which means they eat just as much -- and produce fewer eggs. The stinkers. Charley and Abs find a cool spot, and pant a lot.  
    And it's only June?!?
    Hopefully you'll enjoy these 'cool' links. 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * **  * * * * *
I'm headed to the Pine Needles Quilt Guild in Wrightwood, CA this week!  If you're in the neighborhood, I'd love it if you stopped by. The lecture (on Crazies) is Tuesday night, and the class (on how to make a Crazy -- several different ways) is Wednesday. Lots of history, trinkets...and great quilts.
     Go here for more info.  There are still some open spots in class, I'm told.

Detail of President's Quilt made for Lorrie Havens by guild members

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

An update on the weekend attack at a Florida gay bar. Horrendous.

Did you know that VISA cards have a concierge service? I didn't, either. Check out this guy's experience, asking for everything from "big tubs of cheese" to space travel. (From Four Hour Workweek)

A German grocery store chain with cat "shoppers." Very funny ones, too.

A trip to New York -- including a Broadway show, the Flower District and defeating the "scary subway." Which turned out not to be that bad, at all. (From Funky Junk Interiors)

What would you do, if $4.6 million was wrongly transferred to your bank account? Here's what Christine Jiaxin Lee did.  (And it looks like she may have gotten away with it, too, since it wasn't her mistake. We'll see.)

Adult cherry limeade. Yum. (From Who Needs A Cape?)

They come a'running... ours do, too. (From Chicken Blog) While you're at it, check out this:

Live hen cam. (Yes, I am easily amused.)

Rainbow Cauliflower Rice Bowl. (From 101 Cookbooks)

Rainbow Cauliflower Rice Bowl

Healthy General Tso's Chicken -- the recipe, plus a video if you need it. Sweet and salty, here I come!

Ten lower-calorie late night snacks.  Recipes, plus additional links.

Dr. Phil: "I've been homeless." Did you know that?

A no-news day. If you need a break, this is a great peaceful post to read. (From Our New Life in the Country)

Traveling with kids -- successes and failures. LOTS of good advice here. (Okay, some of it assumes you also have lots of money. But helpful, nonetheless. From Emily Henderson)

"I don't care about late-night tv." An interesting interview from David Letterman. (Apparently when that door closed, it CLOSED.)

23 weird things that washed up on a beach. (An easy way to watch slideshows like these -- don't click on 'next.' Instead, go up to the listing, click near the number, and change it to the next one. It's a lot faster, and you don't accidentally click on silly advertisements.)

What Leonardo diCaprio, Paris Hilton and other celebs were like in school.

And off to the races. Have a great week.

Friday, June 10, 2016

(Re)Visiting the Princess Bride

We have friends coming over tonight for a movie...I think it might be this one. 

You've got responsibilities, if you love the Princess Bride:

Sure sounds better than weeding the garden in the hot sun. Ah well -- at least I still have my glasses on.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Quilting Hunks

These have been showing up lately online...I never thought I'd see a sexy quilt hunk (except for the Brick), but here they are. I threw in a Crafting Hunk or two, as well. Enjoy.

Ryan Gosling, the Beer Guy and others are sweet. (You can even make a meme for yourself.)
    But the cutest Quilt Hunk of all is...

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

A New WWII Discovery

Every once in a while, something carefully hidden (or lost) during WWII reappears.

      Like underground gas chambers at Sobibor, covered up after the rebellion there.

      A sunken German sub off Norway (plus other fighting equipment).

      An RAF fighter, thought shot down in an airfight. (It was actually lost in the desert. More interesting items on this link, as well.)

      Even a Nebraska soldier's medal, hidden inside a tree in Vermont.

Now a gold ring and necklace have been found, hidden in the false bottom of an enamel cup -- from Auschwitz. Staff at the Auschwitz museum in Poland noticed after the canvas bottom eroded, and exposed the jewelry.
    The cup was one of the artifacts from the Nazi prison camp. Someone obviously planned to retrieve it...and never did.

Strange...and fascinating.

A Tale of Two Opals

Daughter #2 has an Etsy business selling beautiful rock specimens, called Phenomenal Gems.

The Brick and I share an interest in rocks, as well, and spent some time in Tucson, AZ with Daughter and her partner Keith. For those of you who don't understand that significance -- every year in Jan/Feb, Tucson has a citywide rock show. Hundreds of businesses open up in malls and hotel rooms around the city, offering all sorts of rocks and jewelry, as well as related tools, embellishments...even items like furniture and doors, all having something to do with ROCKS.
     It can be hot and tiring, but there's nothing like finding a beautiful piece at just the right price. I buy a lot of charms and beads there too, for Brickworks customers and students.

This year while wandering in Tucson, the Brick and I came across a vendor of semi-precious Ethiopian opals. These come in a variety of colors -- but I'm particularly caught by their golden shades. The stones are sold from a vat of water. Why? Because when wet, the opals tend to stay clear. If they dry, they may or may not remain that way.
     We bought two large stones: a golden one, and a chocolaty one. Here they are, still wet.

Opal #1:

The golden version is called a "Welco" opal. I love that color...

...and side two. Iridescent in places.
Opal #2:

The "Memezo" opal -- almost a caramel shade

Side two of the Memezo opal...that gunky stuff gradually is scraped off

We kept both opals in water for weeks, debating. Should we take them out...or not? Charley had his own wonderings about it all.

Gee, Mom and's just a ROCK. How about some pancakes?

The 'let it dry' argument won. At first, it seemed to be working:

But as the days went by, both rocks developed "crazing." (sigh)

Now, months later, both opals show even more crazing than these photos. Darn darn darn. I keep them on the windowsill  anyway, a reminder that even flawed things still have beauty.

Phenomenal Gems has some gorgeous opals, including Ethiopian, Australian, Mexican fire opals and grainy Andomooka opals. Take a look here.  (The Ethiopian golden opal at PG is a good one to compare to the Welco piece shown here. Only PG's gem doesn't have crazing -- lucky for it.)

You'll also enjoy this look at  Eight worlds inside an opal.