Saturday, December 31, 2016

Looking Back on 2016 (Part I)

Happy New Year's Eve.

Pizza's been consumed, along with appetizers. We watched Quigley Down Under, to keep up tradition, and are deep into In The Heart of the Sea. (Wow, what a movie -- amazing. Not well received -- but that wasn't its fault.)
     A few hours of the old year are still left to ponder.

It came about differently than we'd planned: some for better, some for worse.

We went through some terrible times in 2014 and 2015 that affected 2016. (If you're curious about our 2014/2015 adventures, you can see Part I, Part II and Part III by clicking on the links here.) 


     *I lost and regained one certification with one of the appraising groups, and lost my president's position (but regained my membership) with another. Ironically, all the threats made by a person -- the one that cartwheeled all this into motion -- have never materialized. Not one, to this day. (Though that didn't stop others from believing her, and acting on that fear.)
      Going to the annual conference in the spring for this second group was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do. Group #1 was so secretive (and, I would guess, eventually ashamed of their actions), and members in group #2 were told not to contact me "because legal action was pending." That made for mass confusion as to why the President was no longer -- then just as suddenly in membership again, with no explanation. I had to attend the conference with people who weren't sure whether I was worth my weight as an appraiser -- or not.
     Thankfully, I was believed. But I still carry the scars of what I went through in 2015, not to mention the financial and legal ramifications. Probably always will. But they are beginning to fade.

     *I passed the initial testing for certification in another group -- a much larger one, devoted to general appraising, rather than one small area. I'm now a proud Candidate/Member (Senior Personal Property Appraiser) of ASA, or the American Society of Appraisers. This seemed only logical. For one thing, ASA focuses on the use of USPAP, the only appraisal language accepted by The Appraisal Foundation -- which in turn is the only appraisal group officially recognized by Congress. And soon, I suspect, USPAP will be the only language accepted by the IRS, courts, insurance companies and other venues. There is strong evidence that in a few years, this will indeed be the case.

     (Sadly, the other group I hold certification in does not believe in or advocate USPAP's use. Eventually, I believe, that reluctance will seriously affect acceptance of appraisals with their stamp, if those appraisals are used for donation, insurance appraisals or in court.)

     For another, I have been appraising in personal property for more than a decade -- including everything from clothes to furniture to furnishings to textiles in general, old and new. It only made sense to certify in ASA. I plan to complete certification this coming year. Not only will it help protect me more -- it should better protect my clients, as well.

  *The Brick started his second year of being 'retired' -- but he worked plenty. He worked in elections in the spring, and started driving bus again in late summer and fall. He also put in time as Brickworks' IT guy, and helped others in computer work, as well.

     *We began clearing away house stuff -- and bought a trailer! (More on this in Part II.)

     *We began finishing up commitments we've done for years. Decades, even. There's more yet, but the end is in sight.  We don't do Worship Team at our church nearly as often. (25-plus years and counting.)  The chickens are definitely getting older and winding down (4-plus years in that!) And soon I will have to tell my piano students goodbye. (More than 8 years.) A huge amount of quilts, tops, ephemera and quilting-related books, collected for more than 30 years, will soon be going away from here, to the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum.

     *Family life is changing. Our cousins are getting older, and growing large families of their own, with grandbabies and now great-grandbabies. Our siblings on both sides are doing the same.
     We lost more aunts and uncles. The Mama's health has struggled some. ( Her heart surgery in 2014  hasn't helped.)
     Daughter #1 is busy with her life. Daughter #2 is engaged, and her Etsy business, Phenomenal Gems, is growing like crazy. (Yay!) Both daughters remain nearby, in Denver and Nederland. Which is wonderful for us. But...will we be here, as well?

     *Work goes up -- and down. And up. It's been a strange one: this month crammed with jobs and commitments, that one nearly empty. The lighter months help you rest up for the busy ones, but still...
     I have no intention of retiring. But I am definitely slowing down some. I am thinking I won't be accepting as many teaching gigs in the future, and limiting the conferences I teach, judge and appraise at.

     It's 11:30 p.m. The old year is closing, but we have some new doors opening. And those, Dear Readers, are the subject of Part II.

(Part II's up now -- see it here.)


Returning to Normal...Whatever That Is

I'd love to tell you exciting stuff is happening in the Brick household...but it isn't. 

We've spent much of this week tidying up and visiting people, especially Daughters #1 and #2. The Mama still shares far too many reports on her internal workings for my taste. I've also heard plenty about Terrible Events -- she is a big fan of reporting deaths, awful sicknesses, accidents and such. But we seem to be adjusting some to dealing with it. (Staying up late and sleeping in helps.)

She does make terrific sugar cookies.

Tonight, to celebrate New Year's Eve, we'll have homemade pizza while we watch cowboy movies


Crust:  2 cups flour
            1 tablespoon sesame seeds
            1 tablespoon yeast
            1 teaspoon salt
            3 tablespoons olive oil

Mix all ingredients for the crust; add extra flour, if needed, while you knead the dough. It can be used right away -- for even better results, let rise for as little as 30 minutes, or up to all day. (Cover the dough bowl with a damp towel.)
     Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Spread dough out on a greased large pizza or 9 x 13 pan. Let bake for about 10 min., until dough is firm and starting to brown. Now add:

Toppings:  1-1 1/2 cups of pizza or spaghetti sauce
                             (be sparing - too much sauce, and the pizza gets 'mucky')
                   1 tablespoon pizza or spaghetti spices

     Your choice of:
               chopped ham
               sliced sausage
               hamburger (brown first)
               diced shrimp
               chopped chicken
               sliced pepperoni
               sliced mushrooms
               chopped peppers
               sliced black olives
               chopped onion
      (a handful or cup of each - good place to use leftovers, or 'skimmed' items)

     And for the finale:
                1-2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Sprinkle over the pizza crust. Now here's the important part:  slide the pizza off the pan, straight onto the oven rack. Let bake an additional 10-15 min., until crust is brown, cheese is melted and toppings are bubbling. Slide back onto the pan as you take the pizza out of the oven, and slice. Tear into your delicious treat! Makes about 2 pizzas, feeding 4-6, depending on how thick you like your crust.

This is also delicious, done Swiss-style:  instead of spaghetti sauce, brush cream cheese or ranch dressing (or a mixture of both) on the crust. Choose from chopped ham, onion, mushrooms, olives, peppers, even celery -- and top with grated Swiss or mozzarella cheese.

Frugal Upstate has a good pizza recipe, too -- but uses cornmeal. I like the tang that sesame seeds add to the crust. Another variation: pull off small handfuls of pizza dough, then fold around pieces of cheese and pepperoni slices, monkey bread-style. Recipe's here.

Happy New Year to you everywhere!

(I'll be back soon with year-end reports. But the pizza calls...)

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Frugal Hits and Misses: December Report

This month was a strange one, frugal-wise. I think we were reasonably careful on costs and such...but it sure didn't feel like it. And our bills aren't that low. (Though they're not bad, either. Considering.) 
    Maybe because you're alwys spending a little more here and there than you'd planned, on the grounds that "after all, it's Christmas." Which sounds good -- until the credit card charges come in.
     Anyhow, here goes:

*Found two pumpkins discarded in a ditch -- which the chickies devoured.

*Bought more dollar videos from the library used booksale room, including a Hunger Games we didn't have. These made wonderful presents, combined with the thrift shop and Walmart Black Friday sale videos I'd been collecting all year. Each kid got a stack of videos, which they seemed to really enjoy.

*Paid off a student loan (for Daughter #1) we'd been chipping away at for years. Felt wonderful.

*Had a long weekend of dog and house-sitting. Also had a meetup with new possible customers (and Oliver, the rambunctious pug). A neighbor also just booked us for a week of visits. Nice.
      These take time and energy, of course. I am surprised, though, at how much I can fit them into our schedule. And also surprised at how fond I've become of our canine charges.

*Taught a few piano lessons. Not many -- I usually take December off. (The kids are too excited to get much done, anyways.)

*The Brick drove schoolbus for various events. He also fixed or adjusted several items that were broken. (I'm lucky this way.)

*Got two tanks for gas for $1.61 and $1.75 gallon, respectively. Thank you, King Soopers and Safeway discounts!

*made my own apple moonshine -- a hit! People really seemed to enjoy this.

*Sold more books and videos on Amazon -- 8 more.

*Had a lecture/teaching gig for the Colorado Quilting Council. And a lot of fun doing it. Sold a bunch of books, kits and even a few pins.

*Did a big batch of appraising. Still finishing some up...but almost done.

*Watched football games and a few tv series episodes for free, again. Not that the Broncos did any better, because of it...

*Listened to Christmas music pretty much all month for free -- thanks to Pandora.

*Continued to sell eggs all month. Barely. The chickens have slowed way down -- we can sell 2 dozen a week if we really work at it, and stint ourselves. Which I do not like to do.

*Bought this decorative Christmas house at the thrift shop -- for about $1.25. The only thing: if you push a button (which I did by accident), it whips into LOUD Siberian Orchestra renditions of Christmas music. Scared the liver out of me, first time it happened.

Surprisingly creepy...

     Also got some holiday candles (roughly 50 cents each) and a huge bag of holiday-themed pins ($2.50). Pulled the ones I wanted to keep, including a vintage Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer brooch. The rest will be offered for sale, or used in kits.

*Paid a higher credit card bill in December than usual. Why would I put this in the positive category? Because we'd stocked up in late November, including basics like dogfood, dried beans and chicken feed. Those will take us through much, if not all, of the winter. Also, we spent extra on purchases like:

*A 10% credit on the Amazon gift cards we bought. Also, a $5 credit for every $25 in Red Robin gift cards, as well. (We got four.) Every bit helps.

*Didn't spend much extra during our anniversary trip. We ate the food I brought with (except for their wonderful breakfasts, and cookies/wine always on tap). We also spent $10 on a fresh Christmas tree -- a price practically unheard of out here in Colorado. (Usually they're $40-50 each, even the small ones.) See the November report for more on this.

*The Seven Fish Dishes were surprisingly inexpensive -- in large part because I'd been collecting seafood for months, and stashing it in the freezer. The biggest discovery, at least to me: canned oysters tasted just as good as fresh in the Angels on Horseback! I'd been paying at least $5 a jar for them -- and found a case lot at the Friday/Saturday store for 50 cents each. Go figure.
     Spaghetti with clam sauce was a big non-hit. (Except with the chickens, who gobbled down the copious leftovers.) But the tuna casserole turned out really delicious. And the scampi was wonderful, as usual. Go figure again.
      Look for an update on this year's rendition of the Fish Dishes soon.

*Bought more than I'd planned -- but it was all for a good cause. The local dollar store kept us nicely in gift-wrap and tape. (And I spent extra for the piano students to go shopping for their family -- something they left.) Sprouts had pineapples for 88 cents, rosemary trees for $3.99 and panettone for $1.99-2.99 -- almost unheard-of. Have you ever taken a good strong whiff of a rosemary tree in wintertime, or rubbed a branch of it? That brisk scent really clears out your sinuses. (Or, as Daughters watched our friend Jeff enthusiastically fondle his rosemary: "That tree's gonna need therapy. Lots of it.")

*Got myself a few Amazon videos I'd wanted. Poldark, Season 2. My Best Enemy. (One of my very favorite foreign flicks.)

What a guy...
Bought a few for presents, too: some Jimmy Stewart westerns for Cousin Phil, and Taming of the Shrew for Daughter #1. Replaced a Dickens set I'd been having trouble viewing. (Don't laugh, until you see Little Dorrit for yourself. Amazing.)
     How much did I pay? Thanks to the gift cards I earned through Swagbucks -- nothing. (You can do this, too -- go here for more info.)



*Let some really good coupons expire -- in part because I forgot they were there. (It got pretty busy there, in the beginning of the month.) I am bound and determined not to let this happen again.

*Renewed some very expensive memberships -- like the American Society of Appraisers, for $590. Ouch. More are needed, for a total of around $250 or so. Double ouch.

*Got a bunch of dental work done... with more to come. We'll be paying our dentist $286 a month pretty much all of 2017 -- if not into the next year.

*The Brick used his Swagbucks to get me some videos for Christmas -- videos we already owned. I'd kept them on my Wishlist originally, but had forgotten to take them off as we acquired copies. Frustrating, since there were others still on the list (like Jericho, Walking Dead and Turn) that I would have loved to have gotten. But as The Brick pointed out -- he didn't know to check. Sigh. For my part, I:

*Got the Brick a beautiful black leather jacket -- which didn't fit. And turns out it buttons on the wrong side. (It was made for women, not men. I wondered...) Thankfully, it can be returned for store credit.

*We still have not processed all of the credit card customer charges for the month. Nor have I turned in the hotel bills for the John C. Campbell trip. I hope to get all these taken care of in the next few days.

*We also wasted more food than usual -- mostly because there was no place to store the unused Fish Dishes. Ditto for some fruit that had problems. (I did get a bag of oranges replaced at Sprouts.)
     The chickens loved all these.

I did buy some after-Christmas sale items, including several for The Mama. (Who treated us to an Outback gift card for our anniversary.) Largely, though, I plan to stay away from the stores. We just won't have the room! (More on this in a bit.) I'm also going to cook a lot out of our current groceries. No real need to hit King Soopers or Safeway, except for a few sale items plus milk. 

It's easy to over-focus on making our money stretch; The Brick is much more comfortable splurging than yours truly. But I feel extra-embarrassed about any griping, when I see how truly little others have to work with, compared to our riches. My new blogger friend at Harvest Lane Cottage has it a lot worse than we've ever faced, and generally comes up smiling. 

More about next-year goals in a bit. Meanwhile, if you're curious about other Frugal Hits and Misses months, go here for the links.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Now You Know...

thanks to Red Bubble,   you can get this as a pillow or t-shirt, too.)

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: 35 Years With The Brick

     Today is our anniversary! How can so many years have gone with this guy. We met in a Chinese restaurant in Ann Arbor. (He sat at my table -- see, this really does happen sometimes!) He had just finished six years in the Navy, and was a freshman (Engineering) at Michigan. I was in grad school (English Lit), living in the attic of a family home, acting as their unofficial housekeeper. 
     I was headed to New York after graduation, looking for a job in publishing. Instead, we stayed in Ann Arbor, then went on to Boulder (after a summer spent traveling on a motorcycle) for the Brick to get his M.S. 
     Thirty-two years later, we're still in Colorado. But that may change in the future. 

How to get ahead in 2017 -- advice from a bunch of famous people.

Holiday lighting -- at night. Some wonderful candlelit photos here.  (From Tidbits)

Amy Schumer bought her family's farm back, after they lost it. What a girl -- and a great daughter.

Christmas in Amsterdam. My Canadian blogger friend is there right now, house-sitting. A LOT of photos and descriptions -- nice, if you can't be there yourself.  (From A Life By Design)

A guy gets kicked off a Delta flight, and announces it was rascist.  Turns out he's made a career out of obnoxious 'Arab' Youtube videos he characterizes as fun pranks -- but are obviously scaring people on the planes he's riding on. And most times, he's allowed to stay. (This flight, he was shouting in Arabic, in a way that suggested threats. Harmless, huh?) 

A Yule Log how-to.  No, it's not too late to make one.  (From Hard Up And Happy)

The weirdest gifts people have received for Christmas.

The 2016 Naughty List -- in the art world.  (From Artnet)

Ten female spies who fought against the Nazis.  (From Listverse)

Sherlock (as in Holmes) is finally back for Season Four. It's about dingdang time! (Their Christmas special last year was an embarrassing joke.)

Seven habits of creative renters.  (From Apartment Therapy) Also from them:

Holidaying up a 490-sq-ft apartment in Hell's Kitchen.  

Staying warm in winter -- even when you've got inadequate heat. (From Harvest Lane Cottage, a new blogger I've been reading lately) Also from her:

A Christmas miracle on the frontier.

Homemade snow cone syrup.  (From Hundred Dollars A Month)

"It burns:" the horrible result of an artichoke dip gone bad -- on live TV!
   If you've ever had anything go'll be able to relate.

Happy Anniversary, David -- with love. I'm looking forward to spending many more years with you.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Happy Birthday, Lord Jesus. Thinking of you this weekend...

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.
          --  Isaiah 9:2

A Visit with Mr. Bean

Are you by yourself this holiday weekend?

We could have been -- it was supposed to blizzard on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Our new son Keith has a snowplowing contract. So when it snows, he leaves...and Daughter #2 leaves with him.

Daughter #1 is a dogsitter, and has five animals this weekend. She'd have to go, too.

Fortunately, the forecast is for clear and sunny. (Not warm -- you can't have everything.) We still have a scraping of snow for that 'White Christmas' look. And yet, we can get around easily. (Yay for drivable roads -- they just don't plow side streets much around here.)

So...if you are...

Invite a friend over. Mr. Bean is always ready to stop by. He may be a bit strange and messy, but guys are like that sometimes.

Ask him for Christmas:

Or wait til next week, and invite him to your place on New Year's.  Although I'd skip his 'champagne' and appetizer platter.

 (We will be by ourselves then -- our kids are in no shape to drive after their respective New Year's Eve parties.)


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas Quilts

I know -- you probably don't have time to whip one of these off in the next few days.
    Why not?!?  😁

But they're fun to look at, and plan for in the future.

Many of the quilts are holiday-themed just by color/fabric choices. I'm thinking of doing a few as regular scrap quilts, instead. Or maybe a two-sided quilt: one side for Christmas, the other for the rest of the year!

'Wander Through The Woods' -- from Craftsy

Shared by ms moniker via Flickr. Even the intersection squares are scrappy.
(See Quilt #6 below for a more restrained version)

'Snowglobe,' an easy Snowball variation by Tasha Horsley. Love the candycane stripe binding.

Star quilt by Alex Eckert

See the various strips? Watch your beginnings/ends for this easy design --
from Quilt Inspiration

Look familiar? It's Quilt #2 in this list -- only the blocks are larger, and arranged on point.
From Ms. Jenny's Custom Quilt Company.

Moonin' for 'Shine

Just a few days to Christmas.

The Mama is having a wonderful time talking...and I am starting to learn how to zone her out enough to get my work done. 
      If I keep my head down and continue to type, she doesn't seem to need me to answer. Saying it in my vicinity is enough. I can't change her ways -- and really, I don't have the right to demand that she do so. But I can change how I respond to them.

One Christmas present waits in the refrigerator:


   A lot of recipes are floating around out there in the Ethernet, including this step-by-step version on Instructables, and videos, like the one below from Youtube.
    Sometimes it's called 'Apple Pie Moonshine.'

To my surprise, this stuff is not only easy to make...but delicious! After doing some experimenting, here's what I finally came up with.


1/2 gallon apple cider
1 quart apple juice (use bottled pasteurized apple cider here too, if you can get it)
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon   (some recipes skip this and add a cinnamon stick in each jar, instead)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 bottle (750 mml) of Everclear grain alcohol
1 small slice of apple for each jar   (I used a quarter each of small 'lady's' apples)

Combine the first batch of ingredients. Bring to a gentle boil, until sugar is dissolved. Let cool. Mix in Everclear, and pour mixture into clean quart or pint canning jars, up to the neck. (Add a slice of apple first.) Add canning jar lids...or use other clean jars with screw-down lids, instead.
     Our batch filled 11 pint jars.

After a few days in the refrigerator, The Brick took a tentative swig, and smiled. "Tastes a lot like mulled apple wine," he said. I am not a big drinker, and the first taste was too alcoholic. But the second smoothed right out... this is good stuff.

You can use less alcohol, or more juice/cider, to lessen the bite. Regardless, though, you should try this tasty winter drink, especially when coming home wet and chilled on a stormy night.

     It will warm you right up. 

Photo from Instructables

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Seven Fish Dishes...And I'm Beat

     I had big plans for how peaceful this week was going to be.

Well, forget that.

The Mama flew in Tuesday evening, fretting pretty much all the way about how awful the weather would be in Colorado. She almost sounded disappointed when she realized we've only got some skims of slushy snow here and there -- and the air is almost warm.

She has big hopes for one slambang storm while she's here -- and she may get her wish. We'd heard a big storm was moving in on Christmas Eve, but the forecast now says it will be clear as a bell -- but cold. Darn, darn, darn.

Our Seven Fish Dinner is in progress for Christmas Eve. Here's what's planned, so far:

Lobster Bisque   (canned condensed soup -- ironically, from the Dollar Store!)
Angels on Horseback   (oysters wrapped with bacon)
Spaghetti with Clam Sauce
Shrimp Scampi
some kind of tuna dish (still debating on this one)
Baked Salmon fillets with lemon-garlic sauce
Crab legs, possibly -- debating on this one, too.

Every few dishes, there will be a 'refresher:' either a blueberry smoothie, fresh fruit, a veggie platter or a green salad. We'll also have biscuits or rolls, and a cracker/cheese plate to go with the "angels." Otherwise, all that seafood gets too cloying.

Oh yes, and a nice bottle of wine, too. With coffee and Sachertorte for dessert.

We've been doing the Seven Fish Dishes for decades now -- it's one of the things Daughters #1 and #2 most look forward to. Check out the Christmas Goodies blog, and you'll see several versions. Fortunately, I don't have to sing or play for Christmas Eve services this year -- but The Brick does. Poor guy. (There are three.)

Don't even THINK about me being on the menu
   The Mama is full of plans for baking this and that -- which means I have to stay within shouting distance every five minutes to get whatever item she wants. Plus make immediate special trips to the store for whatever I don't have on hand. (Ma is not big on adapting or substituting.) This also means that whatever work I have to do -- and I still have some -- I'll have to drop every five minutes to get her what she needs. Oh joy. 
     I know very well that when she gets more adjusted to the altitude, she'll have even more plans -- and they will all involve ME. (It usually takes a couple of days -- we live at 6250 feet.)  Meanwhile, I get to hear all about this person who's devastated, and that person who's shocked...and all over silly stuff that I'm guessing they weren't shocked about, at all. Plus every accident, sickness and bad incidents that can be dredged up from the last six months. After all, I Might Know Them.

Do I sound discouraged? Yes, dears...I am, a little.

The tree's up. We have the cleanest under-bed area in the county. (The Brick got inspired after we cleaned out the floor in Daughter #1's room, then moved the guestroom bed in for The Mama's use.) A good 3/4 of the appraisals are done. I already took The Mama out to shop for stocking presents and such. We have nearly everything needed for the Seven Fish Dishes. The visit, so far though, is cordial, compared to a few months ago.

     And every step I take is like slogging through molasses. Why am I so exhausted?

Thanks for listening. It is the way it is. Mustn't grumble...

Pedal to the Metal...Grilled Cheese At Sonic for 50 Cents 12/21

NEWSFLASH:   Sonic Drive-Ins are offering 50-cent grilled cheese sandwiches all day today! 

 Good only Wednesday, Dec. 21, and you must mention the special when ordering. Limit 5. (Quick stop -- there's lunch or supper. For cheap!)

Now for the joke...
how about this one, from

After getting all of the Pope’s luggage loaded into the limo – and he doesn’t travel light – the chauffeur notices that the Pope is still standing on the curb.
“Excuse me, Your Holiness,” says the chauffeur, “Would you please take your seat so we can leave?”
“Well, to tell you  the truth,” says the Pope, “they never let me drive at the Vatican, and I’d really like to drive today.”
“I’m sorry but I cannot let you do that. I’d lose my job! And what if something should happen?” protests the chauffeur.
“There might be something extra in it for you,” says the Pope.
Reluctantly, the chauffeur gets in the back as the Pope climbs in behind the wheel. The driver quickly regrets his decision when, after exiting the airport, the Pontiff floors it, accelerating the limo to 105 mph.
“Please slow down, Your Holiness!!!” pleads the worried chauffeur, but the Pope keeps the pedal to the metal until they hear sirens.
“Oh, dear God, I’m gonna lose my license,” moans the chauffeur.
The Pope pulls over and rolls down the window as the cop approaches, but the cop takes one look at him, goes back to his motorcycle, and gets on the radio.
“I need to talk to the Chief,” he says to the dispatcher. The Chief gets on the radio and the cop tells him that he’s stopped a limo going a hundred and five.
“So bust him,” says the Chief.
“I don’t think we want to do that, he’s really important,” said the cop.
The Chief exclaimed,” All the more reason!”
“No, I mean really important,” said the cop.
The Chief then asked, “Who ya got there, the Mayor?”
“Governor?” The Chief asked.
“Well,” said the Chief, “Who is it?”
“I think it’s God!” the cop exclaimed.
“What makes you think that?”

“Well for one thing, he’s got the Pope as a chauffeur.”

Monday, December 19, 2016

It's A Wrap

The Electoral College's job is done. 

Learn more about the Electoral College here, thanks to Wikipedia

Although six voters did indeed change their votes, others followed the directive given by voters of their respective states. According to Yahoo (see the above link), activists who tried to influence the Electoral College, needed to get 37 delegates to change their minds. There were an amazing flurry of movie stars taping podcasts (Martin Sheen and Mike Farrell included), a few demonstrations (though not up to post-election brouhaha standards), and lots of fussing.

It didn't work.

If you're curious, four Democratic delegates changed their votes, instead of voting for the Democratic candidate. (Oops, that wasn't supposed to happen.) Two Republican delegates voted for someone else, other than the Republican candidate. None of the changed votes obliged Mrs. Clinton, although both Colin Powell and Bernie Sanders each got a vote, according to the New York Times. (The Times said seven delegates changed, instead of six.)

(Both Mr. and Mrs. Clinton's responses were interesting, if a tad sour grapes. Of course, it's the FBI's and the Russians' fault This All Happened.)

Now let's see what you can do, President-elect Trump.

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Revisiting Old Friends

Back in ancient times, I had a friend at our alma mater, Baptist College in Grand Rapids, MI. Joel was clever, intelligent -- and great fun to be with. I was very fond of him back then. 
     I lost track of him over the years, until he reappeared on Facebook recently. I had a long IM conversation with him a few nights ago...and it was as if the years had magically dropped away. Ironically, Joel's son ran the campaign for Darryl Glenn's recent run for senator. We are big fans of Glenn. He may have lost this race -- but I have a strong feeling that he'll be active in Colorado for some time yet. 

     My body may be on the way to seniorhood -- but my mind is still the heedless kid who loved a good story, a fascinating conversation -- and remembers this friend with affection. 

An oldie that still applies, from yours truly -- investing in silver. (Prices are slightly down right now, from what the Brick says -- maybe it's time to take advantage of this.)

Crochet the way it may not have been originally meant!  Including this, from Shoestring Cottage:

The Feds raised the interest rate, by the way.  Slightly.

Pat Campbell's quilts -- a retrospective. Jacobean applique, done beautifully by one of the quiltmakers who made it famous.  (From Material Culture)

Getting exercise -- gym or no gym.  (From Mr. Money Mustache)

Death by chocolate -- in a vat of molten candy in a Russian factory.  Poor girl.

Bakewell tart.  We had this delicious pastry when in Ireland. And, thanks to Hard Up and Happy, I think I can actually make one!

3-ingredient breakfast skillet. I'm going to try this one, too.

A kids' collapsible tepee...that you can make?? And inexpensively.  (From Knock-Off Decor)

'Happy Birthday:' in the public domain, or not? A judge says yes -- the lawyers say sure for the melody...but not the words to the verses.

Twelve Weird Stories of Christmas.

Another thrifty blogger, feeding her family for less.  And a Brit!  I'm subscribing to her can always use extra ideas.

Have the Obamas noticed that the White House is haunted?  Yup.

Ten weird (and kind of funny) security tapes.  See #1, especially.  Oops...
    Also found during my should-have-been-working wanderings:

Ten unusual ways to cut down on your heating bill. From a guy who hasn't had central heating in FOUR years.  (Thanks, Retire By 40)

Eight frugal hacks for saving money that are obvious -- but still helpful. And you may not be doing them.  (From I Pick Up Pennies)

Ten art mysteries solved...sort of. (From Listverse)

Grow an indoor garden of 'soil sprouts.' Crunchy green stuff sounds good right now. (From A Piece of Rainbow) Also from her:

Transfer images using -- clear packing tape! 

Has a portrait of Shakespeare been found, dating from his lifetime? This historian thinks so.

How to get an iron-on transfer OFF.  (From Just Shy of Perfection -- a fine blogger who, unfortunately, hasn't posted anything in quite a while. Darn.)

Rashaan Salaam committed suicide recently. Recognize his name? He was a CU Buffs football player in the 90s -- and a fine one at that. A Heisman Trophy winner. Played in NFL, for the Bears. And only 42. He may have had CTE.

Snowglobe hot cocoa.  Good stuff, even better presentation.  (From Or watch another version of it here. (The link will also take you to a video, albeit shorter.)

Back to the races...have a good week. Take time to enjoy some Christmas moments -- it will soon be over.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

You Can't Catch Me -- I'm The...

Gingerbread: it's one of the best desserts to serve on a cold and blustery night. The Gingerbread Man would have had a run for his money this weekend -- we're supposed to have a HIGH of 3 above tomorrow. Whoopee.
     You can literally stir up a pan of gingerbread batter in less than ten minutes. (Cookies take a bit longer! 😁 ) Even nicer -- this pan of hot, spicy goodness is also low-budget. Win win. 

Here are some gingerbread ideas worth exploring.

*The basic recipe. This is my go-to...and it's close to Taste of Home's version.

from Taste of Home


  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup hot water
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour  (heaping measure, if you're at high altitude)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix everything together quickly, then pour batter into a greased 9" square or round pan. Bake at 350 degrees 20-25 min. Serve warm. Feeds 9, if you're polite -- 4, if you're cold and hungry.

*How about a gingerbread bundt cake, instead? This version, from Honestly Yum, features a coffee/cardamom glaze.

*Laura Ingalls Wilder was famous for her gingerbread. The author (or co-author, as it may be) of the Little House books often baked it for special events. Here's her recipe, as given by Laura in a letter:

"1 cup brown sugar blended with 1/2 cup lard or other shortening. 1 cup molasses mixed well with this. 2 teaspoons baking soda in 1 cup boiling water (Be sure cup is full of water after foam is run off into cake mixture). Mix all well. To 3 cups of flour have added one teaspoon each of the following spices: ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sift all into cake mixture and mix well. Add lastly 2 well-beaten eggs. The mixture should be quite thin. Bake in a moderate oven for thirty minutes. Raisins and, or, candied fruit may be added an a chocolate frosting adds to the goodness."

If you want Laura's gingerbread in recipe format, go to Patty's Kitchen. She'll help out.

*Got any gingerbread left over? A trifle might be just the thing. Taste of Home is all over this.

Looks good, doesn't it? From Taste of Home

*Use your cookies to decorate a cake! Like this version, courtesy of Betty Crocker. Oh my.

photo from Betty Crocker -- thanks, lady.

...and a good recipe for gingerbread men here, adapted from Real Simple's version. 
They're cute on the cake, but tasty by themselves, too.


  1. cups all-purpose flour
  2. teaspoon baking soda
  3. 3/4teaspoon salt
  4. 3teaspoons ground ginger
  5. 1tablespoon ground cinnamon
  6. 1teaspoon ground nutmeg
  7. 1/2teaspoon ground cloves
  8. 1cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  9. 1cup packed light brown sugar
  10. 1large egg, at room temperature
  11. 1cup unsulfured molasses
  12. 1teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Cream butter, egg and sugars together, then add all dry ingredients except flour, along with molasses and vanilla. Beat til thoroughly mixed, then gradually add flour, a cup at a time. You should have a firm dough by the time the flour's mixed in; if not, add another 1/4-1/2 cup flour. (Keeping the dough in the refrigerator for at least an hour will also help it to firm up.)
  2.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough out on a floured surface; cut men (or other shapes) with cookie cutters. Transfer to greased cookie sheet; bake 12 min., or until firm. Let cool, then decorate with white icing and candy embellishments.  Makes about 4 dozen cookies, depending on cutters used.

*This one's a charmer from way back:  gingerbread houses that perch on your coffee cup. They even have a version for sugar cookies in a later post. (Thanks, Not Martha, for sharing. Liked 'em then -- love them now.)

Nineteen more recipes for gingerbread are here.  Enjoy...

Note: this post also ran on our Christmas Goodies blog.