Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Frugal Hits and Misses: The August Report

I've committed to clocking up our successes (and misses) for you every month. Here goes for August.

Found some incredible fruit sales. Our peaches from the Palisade trip not only were fresh, but cheap -- about 65 cents a pound, versus the 'cheapest' price right now: about a buck a pound on sale in stores. (Normally, they're $2-4/lb.) We gave some to friends, and the girlies each got a box.  Now, nearly two weeks later, what's left is stashed in the refrigerator. I promised the Brick a peach pie, and want to make some peach dumplings, as well. As usual, I wish we'd bought one more box! This season just doesn't last long enough.
     Also, our local Safeway (Fred Meyer, to you East Coasters) has frozen blueberries on sale -- a 3/lb bag for $3.99. That's way cheaper than what I can get them fresh. Since I usually freeze some anyways, Safeway can do it for me this time. One bag's in the freezer -- at least two more are needed.

We did okay on groceries, too.  Fifty pounds of onions -- for $5. (Onions are normally a buck a pound around here.) Forty pounds of chicken wings -- $20. (These from the Fri/Sat store.) A bagful of zucchini and squash from neighbors. Our dogsitting people have been covering some of our food, too. Nice.
     Combine that with 77-cent 8 oz. packages of Swiss (I looove this cheese), half-priced bottles of black cherry juice (essential to keep gout at bay for the Brick), and some other clearance items snagged. I've been a happy camper in this area.

The beans are producing! And they're wonderful. We're finally getting more rain, too. The sad part: weather's cooler. They won't keep on much more.
     The tomato plants look great -- lots of blossoms. Just in time for cold weather. (sigh) I'll put our old greenhouse cover on the plants, but have little hope that they'll produce.

The chickens are fine...though we lost one of our old girls. They're barely producing enough eggs to fill the weekly 3-dozen order. I really wish they'd get back to work. Fortunately, Safeway's had eggs on sale. (99 cents a dozen)

Building up the savings fund again. Thankfully. The Cheyenne trip helped, but we're also dogsitting an elderly but feisty golden lab named Nitro. It means staying overnight at Nitro's house...but fortunately, it's only little more than a block away. The Brick stays at our house, and practices for our friends' wedding. (Ana and Jerred are marrying Saturday night -- and the Brick and I are playing and singing for it.) He comes over for meals and sleep. I stay with Nitro and company, work on appraisals...and try not to feel too lonesome.

Nitro in the flesh

Lessons learned from dogsitting: 
     *I enjoy it. Nitro's a good-natured 'ol boy, which helps. But he's 15, stiff on his legs -- and a reminder of where Abby, who's 11, could go in the future. I think I'll try for more jobs like this.
     *Regular messaging helps. Every day, I send a few photos of Nitro and a text on how he is and what we've been doing. It reminds Nitro's mom and dad that he's fat and happy...and he misses them. (Doesn't hurt me, either.)
     *Our decision not to have cable was a good one. Nitro's owners have cable, which we've been watching. How can hundreds of channels have so little to offer? Reruns, sales of stupid stuff and a few good movies and shows sprinkled in. Is this really worth $50 or so every month? (Although I have enjoyed catching up on Judge Judy, Law and Order and Naked and Afraid.)
     *Living in two houses is zany. Take a shower -- oops, your deoderant's at the other house. Where's the can opener? Call the Brick, and ask him to bring it over. Charley and Abs look funny at me -- why are we sleeping here, Mom?
    Meanwhile, there are dirty dishes and clothes at both houses. I need to tidy things up everywhere.

Dawn Patrol -- they kicked up a rabbit. Guess who got away easily?

No more birthdays. Okay, mine -- but I'm going to advocate for steaks grilled at home. We covered two meals out, which, along with several small expenses, effectively cancelled out the extra funds I thought were going to beef up the savings.

We messed up on bank fees -- and got nailed for it. My failure to transfer money meant that a long line of checks bounced. Fortunately, the credit union was persuaded to refund all but one. $30 down the tube.
     We also deposited an older check I'd missed earlier. The 60-day limit was noted on the check -- but I didn't think it was a big deal, because we were only a week off. Got a second $30 penalty for that one -- and we sure didn't get to keep the money, either.  (Did you know you can't do this, even if the money is in the holder's account?)

I didn't accomplish any of the goals I'd set.  I did keep us reasonably fed, in clean clothes, and with some income coming in. We also didn't spend much, if you don't count birthday meals and a doctor's visit for Charley. (Allergies were making him miserable, poor puppy.) Piles are everywhere, though, and we have lovely doghair drifts in the hallway. Next week means catching up on all that. (Oops, just got an e-mail...a friend is coming to visit this weekend. Maybe I can vacuum up the doghair -- quick -- before the rehearsal dinner.)

Meanwhile, there are appraisals to finish, clothes to wash and a dishwasher to load. 
     We'll go back to regular life next week. I hope. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Co-Signing On a Loan or Credit Card: Should You?

Don't do it, don't do it, don't do it.

A recent survey from of about 2,000 adults found the following:

     Money gone:   38% of co-signers ended up paying some or all of the loan or credit card bills -- because the person they helped out... didn't.
      Credit scores down:  28% had their credit scores affected negatively because the person they co-signed for didn't pay...or was late.
     Relationships affected:  26% said their relationship with the person they co-signed for was no longer as good.

Twice, we've been asked to co-sign for a loan. The first time, we did it -- because the person was young, a relative, and needed our help with school loans.  The second time, we didn't. That person was a casual friend I worked with. I liked her so much, but hadn't known her that long. She asked me to co-sign for a car loan; I regretfully said no. Soon after, she disappeared from my life. (Would that have happened if I HAD agreed to co-sign?)

And the school loan we did co-sign for?

We regularly were forced to ante up loan payments now and then when our much-loved person didn't pay. (The loan people immediately called us next when the payment date passed.) Brief periods happened when she was back in school, and the loan went on temporary hiatus...but the loan people were soon back on our doorstep with the next 'break' from college. 
    Finally, all was quiet. Our loanee assured us that she'd taken care of things, and all was well. Then we got a notice: our credit scores had dropped nearly 100 points for non-payment on the loan. It was past-due three months.
    Every month, for the past two+ years, our bank account gets docked $50: the price for our credit scores not taking another hit. (They were near-perfect before that.) 
     The loan will be paid off next March. I am hoping that when it's gone, our credit scores will go back up to what they once were. They've only recovered a little from the initial hit.

And if our young person came and asked us to co-sign again?

What do you think?

Our experience was with school loans -- something parents go through a LOT with their children. Like this poor lady.

It happens with co-signed credit cards, too.  In fact, the columnist mentioned here has posts crammed with people who co-signed, or allowed friends, partners and family to be 'authorized users' on their accounts -- and now regret it.

Sure, it may be ok. The person you've just entrusted your credit and reputation to actually makes the payments regularly. They may do this. It happens. 
    If you really want to help without endangering yourself, take the real risk -- and loan them the money directly. We've made loans to relatives and a friend -- and we got the money back. Reluctantly, as it turns out, in two cases...we had to ask for it, but we got it. In a third case, the money was paid promptly and on time, without asking. I'd loan money again in a flash, any time, to that third person.
     We've also borrowed money from both sets of parents, as well as our daughter -- and paid back every cent on time, plus interest. 
     You may not have the funds to spare. In that case, the answer is clear: Don't do it.
     But if you do have the cash..

     Worst case scenario: you don't get your money back.  Lesson learned: don't loan any more than you're prepared to lose -- permanently.

The person may have the best intentions. (Then again, they may not.)
They may be someone you love dearly.
    But if something goes wrong -- they change their mind, lose their job or have serious medical bills -- you're the one on the hook for that debt. No matter what.

After all this, do you still want to help? Then loan them the money. That way, if they don't or can't pay, you won't ruin your own credit, and end up paying the bill for years, as well. It's not a fun feeling.

Trust me -- we know.

Brackman's doing a Giveaway!

Quick -- sprint over to Barbara Brackman's website and enter her contest.

Some really nice fabric packs, cuts and more.

You only have today to do it...I think. (She said something about taking the post down after today.)

So quick -- GO!!

Cats and Dogs Living Together

While I'm canning peaches and finishing up appraisals, enjoy these animal memes found while wandering the Internet:

(One of our cats used to sleep on top of Buck the Weimaraner, showing off. Buck's response: 'Cat? What cat?'  
Less humiliating that way.)

What can you do -- we (me and the Brick included) love our animals.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Woof!

Got back from Cheyenne (thanks, guys!) and jumped right into my next assignment: dogsitting Nitro, a 15-year-old golden lab who has a surprising resemblance to our Abbie, but a whole lot more decrepit. He's a good dog, but is used to barking for food, love, going outside...and he doesn't mind doing it at 7 a.m. or so, if he feels like it. 
    He seems to be enjoying Charley's and Abs' company. He really is a good 'ol boy.
    I have two boxes of peaches waiting to be canned -- holdovers from our recent trip to Palisade. Fortunately, Nitro only lives 1 1/2 blocks down from our house, so I can move back and forth.
    The Brick, meanwhile, is practicing music for friends Ana and Jerred's wedding on Saturday. It will be fun, but...
     Why does everything happen in the same week?!?
    The big pile of work on my desk has kept me from doing much fooling around on the Internet, so the pile of Stuff is small this week. It will be more next Monday. 

A taste test comparing a supposed Kentucky Fried Chicken the real KFC product. Guess who wins?

6 lost airplanes, found decades later.  Read about 9 more here.  (Correction: the 9 list includes Amelia Earhart's plane, which still hasn't been found -- and I'm betting they won't. One of my uncles, who was involved with Allied flight operations in England, recalled hearing, during WWII, that her plane had been found after Earhart's execution -- but then was quickly torched. Other military eyewitnesses corroborate this.  Hmmm...From Mental Floss)

28 facts about the musical "Grease" that you didn't know.

The last word (I hope) on the Peter Doig trial.  If you're not sure what I'm talking about, go here.

The man who scammed for hundreds of thousands of veteran benefits...and almost got away with it.

21 underwater discoveries that are just too weird...and interesting.

Have a great week. We will.

Charley thinks this about Nitro.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Updates: Cheyenne, Doig, Emeralds and Otherwise

I don't know about your neck of the woods, but it's definitely getting a little chilly at night in Colorado. We're hearing that cold weather's coming early this year -- could it be true? It rained yesterday, the first prolonged moisture we've had in weeks. The Brick said he made a fire in the woodstove to celebrate, and the dogs crowded close. 

     I'm just glad we weren't out in the tent, shivering.

Every once in a while, updates are needed for subjects I've mentioned. Here are the latest:

I'm still in Cheyenne. It's been fun, and the quilts in this show are beautiful. Take a look at the photos throughout this post: the show's  open at the First United Methodist Church in downtown Cheyenne through Saturday! Specifics are here.

This beauty is Sue Frerich's "Arcadia Avenue:" Best of Show

Beautiful lovely peaches. I've got five boxes waiting -- two of them needing canning-- when I get home. Want to come help?

Donna Dolan's appliqued sailboats (a change - they're usually pieced)

Peter Doig wins.   I told you a few weeks ago about this strange case -- an artist being sued for refusing to authenticate a painting he maintained he didn't paint. The guy who owned it, and his partner, decided to FORCE Mr. Doig to admit he did it. (They then wanted to bank off Mr. Doig's name, and sell the painting for a substantial amount of money.)
     Problem was -- Doig said he wasn't in that part of the country. (Let alone in jail there, where the plaintiff bought the painting.) Even his mom testified that he wasn't there. The painting didn't look anything like his other work. The signature was different -- 'Peter Doige.'  And a Peter Doige WAS incarcerated in that prison...and was a painter.
     This should never have gone as far as Doig was forced to take it. I'll bet he paid a nice boatload of money to his lawyers for it. And apparently he didn't countersue for lawyers' fees. Too bad.

The chickens are laying...sort of. We lost two more of the ancient hens -- but at 5+ years old, that's to be expected. So far, they're still laying enough eggs for our use, and a 3-dozen sale to customers each week. But it's getting tighter and tighter.
     I need to clean out their coop before the weather gets colder. This week.

Sandy Farrell's version of "Fireweed"

Remember the emeralds found from a sunken treasure ship?
     Jay Miscovich discovered them -- but Mel Fisher's corporation laid claim, before switching and then arguing Miscovich was a crook. Miscovich ended up committing suicide...the emeralds disappeared...and some kind of settlement was struck for the investors' lawsuit that came in on the heels of all this brouhaha. (Details were kept secret. Go figure.)
    Now the Delaware legal firm, Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP, that apparently represented Miscovich (so far as I can tell, anyways) has settled with the investors that sued them for more than $13 million. More specifics here about the initial lawsuit...but this one's going closed-mouth, as well.
    What makes this particularly interesting: Young Conaway tried everything they could think of to wriggle out of this, including threats, accusations of fraud and several requests to dismiss the lawsuit altogether. Didn't work, obviously.

This isn't an update, but it's a great story, nonetheless:  a 99-year-old veteran waiting for a train not only gets ushered to the front of the line, but one of the employees goes out of his way to honor him
Now that's respect.

The American Textile History Museum is now closed. It was one of the highlights of visiting Lowell, MA. What a shame.

Hope you're having a good week, too.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Horse Sense

My uncle called it "common ordinary everyday horse sense," and would bray after he said it.  (No, I'm not kidding.)

You know what, though? I think he was right.

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Cheyenne Heritage Quilt Show

We're just back from camping on Grand Mesa, a high-up area filled with lakes, forests and fields. Sometimes with cattle -- national parks around here often have grazing rights, as well. After a few days, we tromped down to Palisade and the real reason for our visit:  boxes and boxes of luscious, juicy, ripe peaches. 
     Oh my. 
It will take some time to get them all processed, but what a joyous activity, particularly since you can snag a bite now and then while you're working.

     First up, though, is a visit this week to the Cheyenne Heritage Quilters show in Cheyenne, WY.  I'm up for judging duties, as well as some days of appraising. With the caliber of these quiltmakers, the pleasure is all mine.
     Stop by Aug. 25-27 at the First United Methodist Church (108 E. 18th St.) in downtown Cheyenne. You'll really enjoy it. 

"How the wrong choice could ruin your spouse's retirement."  (From Liz Weston)

A birthday cake protein shake. Perfect for a natal breakfast.  (From Northern Cheapskate)

The first full human head transplant is scheduled and moving ahead. The operation is scheduled for Dec. 2017. Lest you think, "Whoa," it's already been done recently with a monkey's head. (But others have claimed to have done it successfully for decades before now.) Yuck. Speaking of..

Amazing reconstructions of ancient people, using their skulls. #4 looks a lot like our assistant pastor... (From Listverse) Also:

Ten archeological finds that alter history.   (I love this site.)

One ruling of Nazi-seized artwork that DIDN'T return to its disputed owner.  Or was it actually someone else's, seized by the Soviets before that? This one's a puzzler.  (From ArtNews)

A family with 13 kids is mortgage-free...and sending their children to college. With no extra debt.

Eating cheaper at Chipotle's.  Healthier, too.

Eight 'snack hacks.' Healthy AND clever.  (From Hungry Girl)

BAKED cinnamon sugar doughnuts. Oh my... (From Sweetest Menu)

Relive Usain Bolt's Olympic gold-medal-winning race...practically step by step.

Trouble in River (er, Olympic) City over boxing -- several refs fired for their crappy decisionmaking. (Though those decisions weren't overturned...surprising.)

Interviews with the women runners who collectively earned gold, silver and bronze...a first for the U.S. in this event. And what they thought helped them...

Piers Morgan blats off his mouth (again) -- this time on bronze and silver medal winners.
    And gets effectively shut down, I might add, by this economist's response.

The guy who brought ALL of his employees' wages up to $70,000. And, to his surprise, made his company even more successful by doing it.

The Statue of Liberty just got hit by lightning!  (Fortunately, she's okay.)

Daniel Norris, the Blue Jays' pitcher...who lived in a van.  (He's playing for the Tigers now.)

Pennsylvania's Attorney General goes down in flames: guilty on all counts of perjury, influence-fixing and more.  (She resigned last week Wednesday -- it's about time.)

It's been snowing in New Zealand.  (From Life at Barkalot Farm)

A dog...a dark figure...and Bigfoot?  (I doubt it, but see for yourself.)

Ten intriguing finds uncovered by storms.  Sadly, some were lost, too. (From Listverse)

Eleven money hacks that are worth trying.  (From Budgets Are Sexy)

"Why I love my smart meter."   He should -- it saves him money. (From Money Beagle)

Do you enjoy White Castle burgers? This made-in-the-oven version is fast and easy.  (From A Thrifty Mom) While you're at it, stop by her recipe index -- she's got a bunch of useful recipes, including some clever April Fool-type dishes.

Ten lunch sandwiches -- their price now, compared to their price in past years. (You'll be surprised at the price changes. From Len Penzo)

Make other birthdays the priority -- instead of your own.  (From Pretend to be Poor)

29 stars who fell -- or jumped -- to their death. Some surprises here, including Kurt Vonnegut and Robert Culp.

Art rivalries. From Manet to Degas, deKooning to Pollock. Plus:

Five weird facts about Edgar Degas. And they aren't nicey ones, either.

Have a great week -- stop by and see us in Cheyenne!

Friday, August 19, 2016

A Dog...And His Duck

George the dog lost his best canine friend, and was heartbroken.

He started going downhill, showing little interest in life. His owners were worried.

Until Donald Duck showed up. 


Donald Trump Apologizes

“Sometimes, in the heat of debate and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don’t choose the right words or you say the wrong thing,” Trump told a crowd in Charlotte, North Carolina. “I have done that, and I regret it, particularly where it may have caused personal pain. Too much is at stake for us to be consumed with these issues." 

Go here for the link.  Interesting, huh...

His first official campaign ad wasn't too bad, either. 

My major question here -- Why is this suddenly occurring to you now, Mr. Trump?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

He Swam... I Laughed!

Poor old Michael Phelps. Win a bunch of gold medals at the Summer Olympics, and you're fair game for all sorts of teasing. 

Yes, I feel sorry for you. But I couldn't help snickering, anyways, seeing these clever memes. 

Swim like the wind, Michael!


And if you enjoyed those, there's plenty more where that came from. 

Hey, he can handle it.  (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Getting Ready for Christmas Presents -- Now

Merry Christmas, a few months early!

Did I scare you?

It may still be August, but nights are getting cooler. (We actually need a quilt again to stay warm!) The chickadees are back, their feisty 'dee-dee-dee's echoing through the scrub oak. Soon we'll lose the hummingbirds; they never stay much past Labor Day. And if all goes the way it often does, we'll have our first frost sometime in the next few weeks. (Then a month of warm weather...sigh.)

In less time than  you think, it will be the holidays. Time once again to figure out what you're going to get for your partner, the parents and the kids... as well as crabby Aunt Tillie who lives in faraway Poughkeepsie. (Make it a book or video for her. Ships cheaper.)

I try hard to plan for presents throughout the year. Why? Because we can afford them easier this way, picked up one or two at a time, especially if I find them on sale or at the thrift shop. (Don't laugh at the many taped, unopened boxes have you donated after Christmastime? I rest my case.)
      I also buy a good many things with gift cards I earn by using Swagbucks. Usually a hundred dollars or more...every year!  I've mentioned this before, but it's worth emphasizing -- this program lets you earn by just doing the searches you normally would make. And I have had NO PROBLEMS with them passing my name on, or pestering me. In several years. How many programs could say that? If you're curious and want to find out more, click here. It's worth it.


This year's present-hunting expeditions have been different. For one, presents are slowly scaling down in favor of experiences -- meals out, movies enjoyed, trips taken. For another, both daughters (28 and 30, respectively) are at the stage that they appreciate one or two larger presents much more than a shower of smaller ones.
    Okay with me -- fewer things to wrap! 

I'm also more apt to buy "you mentioned this" presents (or their coffee) for good friends now and then. It seems more meaningful to remind them I love them all through the year -- not just at Christmas.
    There's also Operation Christmas Child.

I still look for bigger presents throughout the year; in fact, one is coming shortly from Amazon for Daughter #1. But the major items I'll get from now on are stocking stuffers:
             *unusual canned or jarred foods -- especially sauces
             *black olives on sale -- we go through these like a house afire, and both girlies appreciate a can in their stockings
                 on Christmas day. (They eat them while reading the Christmas book(s) they also got.)
             *free samples -- I request these all year round
             *a small bottle of wine, beer or whiskey  (not for The Mama, who's a dedicated teetotaller)
             *dark chocolate -- plus favored candy bars
             *imported truffles or cookies (if securely packaged)
             *socks -- heavy wool ones are the big thing now
             *small flashlights, especially maglites
             *CDs or DVDs   (often purchased during Walmart Black Friday's scramble)
            *knit slippers and gloves  (Someday, girlies, I'll knit these myself again. Promise.)
            *gift cards   (Starbucks, Qdoba and Red Robin dominate, but I'll buy anything useful that also offers an extra bonus.)

Our new son Keith loves all things hunting and fishing, so I usually look for small items on clearance after those the stuff mentioned above. Both daughters and the Brick hunt, too, so I'll look for fourpacks.  (But NO pink camo stuff. Real women don't wear that for hunting. Ridiculous.)
     The Brick often gets a package of cookies or chocolate -- but I've held off giving much more than that in recent years. He is a lovely man, but stocking presents have never meant that much to him... which translates to few or no stocking presents for me. I merely return the favor. He has more than enough sterling qualities to make up for this tiny glitch.

I'd felt a little guilty for leaning heavily on practical stocking presents, until I read Frances Stroh's memoir, Beer Money. (Yes, the people originally connected with Stroh's Beer.) Her parents had a ton of money to throw around, especially during the holidays. So what did they put in their kids' Christmas stockings? Practical things, like batteries, flashlights and socks. Go figure.

If you're looking for more budget ideas, try these posts. (They work for birthdays, too.)

Christmas presents just for guys.   (From The Bluebirds Are Nesting)

Easy homemade gifts to make at the last minute. Perfect for "Oh no, I need a present tomorrow" panics.  (From Don't Waste the Crumbs)

Prudent Homemaker has a 'Make A Gift A Day' series that's been running for years now. (She's got some great ideas for birthdays, too, including 'Harry Potter' and 'Frozen'-themed parties on a low budget.)

Six gifts under a buck.  (From the Fundamental Home)  In fact, this blogger has an entire section on frugal Christmases that's very helpful.

I also have fun rereading through Meredith's holiday posts for her 'resting' blog, Like Merchant Ships.  (This section, a 'gift closet,' is especially helpful. See, she shops from thrift shops, too.)

A post devoted to stocking stuffers.  From Thrifty Mom in Boise, who's famous for posting Christmas DIY projects year-round.  These snowmen candy bars would be great for small gifts, package decorations -- and yes, stocking stuffers.

More ideas here.  Here, too.  And yes, here too.

Get your act together now. Then when November and December swing around, you'll be able to relax and enjoy the holidays, instead of running around like a chicken...well, you know.

Gloria Vanderbilt -- On Quilts

Or what used to be quilts.

The September 2016 issue of Architectural Digest has a reminiscence of Horst P. Horst and the celebrity homes he photographed. One of them: Gloria Vanderbilt's 'famous' patchwork bedroom, photographed back in the Seventies.

Check out the September AD to see true colors on these -- they were much more vibrant than this graphic.

I feel sick.

I swear to you-- I don't think I'd ever heard of or seen this room up to this point. (Maybe I wasn't paying attention -- blame it on teenage airbrain. I graduated from high school in 1976.) Not only were perfectly good quilts (or at least what seemed to be in excellent condition) chopped up and glued to the walls -- the floor was layered with them, too.
    And then they were varnished. 

Other magazines fawned all over themselves on how distinctive and special Gloria was to do this. (In fact, Valentino based his 2015 fashion collection on the memory. No doubt more quilts were sacrificed for that cause, as well.)

    Normally, I am not that averse to wearables and home dec items made from quilts -- PROVIDED those quilts were too damaged to preserve in other ways, and the items are treated with respect. It is clear, however, based on the photos, that quilts in excellent condition were used for this fiasco.

All I can think of are the quilts chopped up, gutted, vandalized and, no doubt, discarded so Ms. Vanderbilt could show off.

Respect for antique textiles? Hardly.

Shame on you, Gloria. You should know better.

"Decorating is autobiography...All the rooms I have ever lived in reflect the evolving taste of my hopes and dreams."
                                      --- Gloria Vanderbilt

Monday, August 15, 2016

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Oh Beans!

This is the wealthy time for fresh veggies and fruit. Even in dry Colorado, we have plenty of the best, crunchy produce, including Rocky Ford muskmelons (worth the extra price, if you can get your hands on them) and Olathe sweet corn. (Ditto) This weekend, we'll be picking up bushels and bushels of peaches from the Western Slope...but before that, the first green beans out of the garden should be pickable.
    Oh goody!

A British app -- Too Good To Go -- that lets you order about-to-be-discarded food from restaurants, at much less $$.  Interesting concept...saves food, saves money.

15 Olympics scandals.  Just to keep you focused while watching this summer...

Olivia Havilland talks about Errol Flynn. The great actress also had her 100th birthday July 1 -- Happy Birthday, Ms. deHavilland!

Mr. Bean's 25th anniversary...much of this is a revisit of some of his earlier schticks. I love this weird little man --

Did you realize Natalia Molchanova has been missing for more than a year? The body of this famous Russian free-diver, who disappeared while on an easy pleasure dive near Ibiza, still has not been found.

The Doig trial. This is a weird one: a former prison guard wants to sell a painting by, he says, the famous Peter Doig. According to the guard, Doig was in his prison, and sold him the painting for $100. The issue: Doig says he never was in prison. Yet, at least according to the trial info posted, there are several mystery years in his life he refuses to explain his whereabouts. Doig also denies he ever painted the painting -- says he doesn't recognize it.
    Why is this important? If Doig did indeed do the painting (a desert landscape), then it's worth millions of dollars. If he didn't:  a few hundred bucks. It's the first time, though, I've ever seen an artist taken to trial for refusing to authenticate a painting he's said to have painted. Usually it's the other way round...
     Update:  Doig takes the stand and denies yet again that he was in prison OR painted this piece. (He does, however, admit to repeated drug use, but says he's been upfront about that all along.)
     Update redux:  More on the trial, including a look at the i.d. card of 'Pete Doige.' (Peter Doig says this is someone else other than him...and he's got Doige's sister backing him up.) Scroll down to the post "Doig, Or Didn't He?"
      Update #3:  Trial's concluded, with some weird closing statements. Now waiting on the judge's decision. (He said he wanted to think about it some more.) Ironically, the plaintiffs want $7-8 million if the judge rules this is indeed Peter Doig's painting...and $100,000, the amount their expert says it's worth if it isn't. If the judge goes along with it, either way they'd win.

Frugal accomplishments. (From Simple Is Good For You)  Other bloggers have been doing regular posts like this -- I'm starting up, too.

What college students REALLY need. I would add: cans of chicken noodle soup. Our girls doted on this, especially when they weren't feeling well. (From Living Life in Rural Iowa) And in keeping with that:

Six-word phrases every person headed for school should keep in mind. (From Cracked)

Homemade butter in a jar. This could be a good deal cheaper than buying it readymade. (From Hundred Dollars A Month)

Quiltville Quips & Snips -- take a look at the wonderful table runner Bonnie Hunter is working on here.

Nine distinctive cookies and their origins.  Some recipes, too.   (From Mother Nature Network)

Kylie Jenner has a special way of cooking ramen. Which makes her fans very happy.

Black bears in Finland get handed their lunch (or have it taken away) by wolves. Interesting photos here.

Chicken-fried Steak...that isn't.  This is said to be delicious -- I've got to try it on the Brick. Vegetarians, take note.   (From The Prudent Homemaker)

'Above, Below, Forward and Back:' in other words, a painting class on perspective.  (From David Dunlop)

Soft French bread with garlic spread -- the how-to's. This recipe has gotten rave reviews from all sorts of people.  (From It's Always Autumn)

Ripening an avocado -- it will take 10 min. this way. Tops.  (From Lifestyle)

Titanic artifacts have been coming up for auction in recent years...including the cup Molly Brown presented to the captain of the Carpathia.

Twenty classic books you can get for free online.  (From Brad's Deals)

$2 on food every day for a month. A reporter takes the challenge. (From Business Insider) Now, contrast it with her decision to live on:

$4 on food every day for a month. Equally interesting. Although I think she could have added more variety during the $2 challenge, especially. As she points out, once she figures out how to make a smoothie (!!!):  "The result could not have been more glorious; it's also exciting to add a bit of variety to my diet and eat something new."
     Go figure, Honey.

Gwyneth Paltrow tried the Food Stamp Challenge -- but only made it to Day Four. In true form, she doesn't conclude by donating a bunch of money to help out people in her community...but gripes instead about Others Who Don't Care, corporately and governmentally. Yep, I'll bet that helped. Poor baby. (From Goop)

Ten Depression Era hacks you can use, too.  (From Dusty Old Thing)

You've got better things to do in this warm, sunny weather than hang out on the computer. 
Regardless of what you do this week, have a good one. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

AQS Grand Rapids Show Winners

The prizewinners are up from AQS' latest show, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

And, as can be expected from such an important regional area for quilts -- they're beautiful.

Here's Best of Show:

#304 Spring Dance by Barbara Clem of Rockford, IL

Congratulations, Barbara! 

True to form, you'll recognize prizewinners from other shows in the winning lineup, including the AQS Syracuse Best of Show winner.  Been there, seen those, I guess.

     And yes, they're still worthy of the honor.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Why I Haven't Said Much Lately About The Upcoming Election

What's the use?

I've done my share of commenting about Hillary Clinton's run for President. Unless you've been hiding under a bush the last few months (and good for you, if you have), you know she's now the official Democratic candidate for the post.

Hillary Clinton official Secretary of State portrait crop.jpg

    Our girlies are heartbroken about this. They were really hoping for Bernie Sanders. Unfortunately, they didn't take The Machine into account -- which the recent e-mail scandal pointed out.  Gee, that 'heartfelt' apology to Sanders sure made things better. And I love how Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former DNC chair, who was hip-deep in the middle of all this, resigned -- and promptly went to work for the Clinton campaign.
    Yep, no bias there. None whatsoever.

The recent DNC convention had more than its share of pandering to the audience, including inviting Michael Brown's mom to speak, and featuring a photo of a Middle Eastern lady weeping 'for joy' after Clinton's nomination was clinched. (Turns out she was mourning; she'd been there to represent Sanders.)

Then again, I'd expect that. And similar incidents happened at the GOP convention. (Of course they did.) That's politics. So common it's sickening.

What I still have the most problem with:


Can I trust that a person who is experienced in the political venue, who spent years as Secretary of State and First Lady ...will use her obvious intelligence to act on behalf of the American people -- instead of herself, her family and the Clinton Foundation?

Do I believe that she had 'no idea it was going on,' and "I didn't lie," regarding her recent e-mail scandal? If I did believe this 'Reagan defense' (and I don't), then it would suggest that she's incredibly dumb.
     Which she's not.

     Has she admitted to past misjudgments that obviously went wrong? Cue Benghazi here. The government should be ashamed of its actions during that debacle -- paid for with the lives of Ambassador Stevens and U.S. soldiers. As Secretary of State, Clinton was one of the major players calling the shots.  (Maybe she can't remember that, either.)

     Has she been truthful? Even Mrs. Clinton acknowledges that many people do not believe she can be trusted. Or is worth trusting. (She says lots of people do trust her...and she'll work on it. She seems largely clueless on why - hmmm, see below.)

     Has the Clinton Foundation -- and Hillary Clinton's campaign -- accepted millions of dollars from companies and governments who obviously have ulterior motives in their 'generosity?' Then tried to hide it?  (The answer, sadly: 'Yes.') Has Mrs. Clinton benefitted from this personally? How about her husband (who I don't trust, either)...and her daughter?
     What do you think...

So, I'll be voting for Donald Trump...right?


He hasn't exactly followed what he's advocating, either. Like American-made products in America -- in his own business practices. Speaking of business, anybody who goes bankrupt repeatedly, then crows about how he's such a success, has my skepticism, to begin with. (My dad would have been outraged: 'We pay our bills.') Warren Buffett (who is, of course, biased) had this to say about Trump and his company:

     "That was the only time Donald Trump went to the American people and said, 'I'm a winner, invest in my company.' ...Over the next 10 years, the company loses money every year, every single year. He takes $44 million in compensation. If a monkey had thrown a dart at the stock page it would have made 150%. People who believe in [Trump] came away losing well over 90 cents on the dollar. They got back less than a dime."
      Buffett's right.

Sure, Donald Trump is rich. Privileged. (So would he understand what it's like to be poor and struggling? Probably not -- but neither would Hillary.) How about educated? (Well, sort of.) Smart enough to choose wise advisors who can steer him in the right direction? (Maybe...but does he take their advice?)
     Has he ever put the most critical needs of the country, business included, before his own? Probably not. Donald Trump is, after all, for Donald Trump.  We saw that in Colorado, where he was such a class act in the primary. (Oh, that's right...he never showed up. Then he had the gall to accuse Ted Cruz -- who did -- of 'stealing' votes. Classy, with a capital K.)

He is known for being a braggart and a bully: making rude, off-the-cuff remarks that suggest he hasn't done his homework...doesn't care about the implications of said remarks ('I was just joking,' he's known to say)...or is just plain mean. (Seriously, Mr. Trump, calling Hillary Clinton "the devil?") Even ruder actions. Calling people out for doing something -- then doing the exact same thing, because somehow the rules don't apply to him.

Isn't our president supposed to be a model of tact, dignity and thoughtful action?

    Even when Tump hits close to the truth, for example:

All illustrations via Wikipedia: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton entries

Can he do it tactfully, so people actually listen?

It gets even weirder when you have a huge batch of GOP officials who are willing to sign a letter recommending Trump shouldn't be given any campaign funds. AFTER the convention's over, and he's now the official Republican candidate. Really.

Is Donald Trump any more truthful than Hillary Clinton? 

I doubt it -- unless you can call producing unguarded comments and pithy insults, however accurate, being 'truthful.' Is he willing to stop blatting off his mouth like a jerk, set aside his personal and corporate agendas, and focus on the needs of the American people and the country, instead?

Even if you set aside the questions of honesty and agendas, Hillary Clinton has had her share of pithy insults, as well. (If you haven't seen the commercials that imply the world will burst into flame if Trump is elected, you just haven't lived.)

Is she willing to do the same?

Unless something radically changes, I can't stomach voting for either the Democrat OR the Republican presidential candidates. (And no other party candidates will do any better -- except to ruin one of the two main players' chances.)

I wish there were an acid test:
     Anyone who becomes President would be required to give up their personal fortune -- permanently -- the first day they take office. During their administration, they would not be allowed to grant -- or influence-- any kind of position or favorable decision for any individual or group who gave them money. Period. 

It may not matter, but I'll still vote. The only thing that's for sure in this messed-up situation --

God is still in control here. Not Donald Trump.  Not Hillary Clinton.


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Americana Auctioned: The Lewis Scranton Collection

Lewis Scranton, a Connecticut antiques dealer well-known for his interest in slipware and lighting (sconces, candleholders, etc.), put 395 of his choicest pieces in the hands of Skinner Auctions back in May 21, 2016. ("...his personal favorites from 60 years of discerning acquisition.") Baskets, jugs, plates, fireplace-related items and blanket chests, too.  Results were just posted:

More than a million bucks. 

Scranton had specified that the auction be held in his backyard, with no reserve prices. He didn't even want pre-auction estimates included. (Though they were.) Even with those loose parameters, a few pieces didn't sell: a toy motorcycle (#384), two toy autos (#385 and #388) and a hired man's bed (#324). Shoot, I would have offered a few dollars...

Maybe it was the size -- 74" x 50"

Interestingly, furniture prices, so devalued during the Schorsch Auction back in January, did much better at this auction. The pieces were generally smaller, in good condition, and generally lower-priced, without fancypants provenances or attributions -- all factors I personally think drove prices up, rather than down. (As the blogpost pointed out, "The auctioneers commented that smalls are beautiful, in this sale and in the overall antiques market.") Nearly all of the furniture stayed within pre-auction estimate ranges, with a few notable exceptions -- like this gorgeous tiger's-eye maple folding bookcase (#290), late 18th century, that only went for $4250. (Pre-auction estimate: $6000-8000.) Granted, I'm a sucker for this particular wood and style, so I may be a bit biased.

True to form, a large and elaborate candle stand, complete with said fancypants provenance, went for $36,000 -- but that was still under its $40,000-60,000 estimate. Impressive...I guess.

Needlework and textile pieces more than held their own. A silk embroidered parrot piece (#206, 9 1/2" x 12") went for $2100 -- within estimates, but I would have said overpriced. Samplers stayed within or above estimates, with the exception of an 1829 sampler (lot #208) that sold for $300. (The estimate was $400-600, so not really that much difference.)
     Other samplers sold for at least $2000+. Compare that, though, to what other auctions have brought for this style. Granted, these examples weren't that striking, but still...
Lot #208, 1829 sampler... poor baby

An 1832 sampler (#207). This one sold for $2200. See the difference?

The ceramics, as anyone would have expected, did great. Scranton had a real eye for redware, particularly. Even though some of the pieces had damage and needed restoration, they generally did very well. Even this "Cheap Dish," which fetched $4500.

#150, early 19th century. Go figure!

The one George Washington piece, an early 19th century redware platter (#228), was supposed to fetch only $3000-5000. It sold for $13,000. If I were you, I'd start investing in George Washington Americana. Remember: it did well at the Schorsch auction, too.

A few areas didn't do that well. Candle sconces weren't much of interest to buyers...perhaps most clients don't dare put lighted candles next to wallboard?? Baskets did okay; wood boxes, sort of. There were a lot of them, too.

       Paintings also weren't particularly valued. And there were some nice portraits, like this pair (unsigned -- lot #293), which went for $1200.

      Perhaps it was the slight retouching and spots noted. At any rate, they would have been valued -- and sold, I think -- for thousands more at the Schorsch auction. 

An 18th century crewel-embroidered woman's pocket, even with "wear and thread loss" noted, went for $3000 (lot #276). It was valued at less than half that price pre-auction.

Candlesticks of all sizes and types did very well, considering -- but again, Scranton is noted for that sort of thing. His personal collection would only contain the best -- and collectors/dealers would have known that. Too bad the auction didn't seem to draw collectors of fireplace tools -- or maybe those are just out of fashion right now.

     His metal toys did 'okay.' Most were 20th century cars and trucks, which stayed under $150. Most sold, including this fun 19th century Goat and Cart (#382). At $250, it was right on the money.

The 19th century Santa and Sleigh, however, did thousands better than its pre-sale estimate.

Pre-auction estimates for furniture seemed to be considerably lower than what I've seen in previous years -- which may be why actual pieces sold consistently within those estimates. It was hard to tell, after I'd picked through chest after chest after chest. (Scranton really did have a thing for those -- especially blanket chests. And chairs. The man LOVED chairs.)

Jugs, plates, platters and bowls were interesting, in wide variety -- and valued accordingly. But then again, with Scranton specializing in those styles, the right collectors and dealers were there to bid.

Take a look here at the lots, for your own stroll through Scranton's collection. It's good practice if you're a collector or appraiser... even if you're just a wannabe, at this point.

The Skinner Auctions post concludes:
     "It's often said that 'the antiques marketplace isn't what it used to be.' It is certainly true that collecting like everything else has its fads and fashions.
     The Scranton auction is Exhibit A for another truth: the best of the best is timeless, and will always find eager buyers."

Thanks to Skinner Auctions for all photos