Tuesday, January 31, 2017

In Need Of A Laugh

The Brick and I both had a long, busy and a little frustrating day today -- time to relax and soak some culture into our bones.

Like the very funny 1935 "Hoi Polloi," courtesy of the Three Stooges.

Just as good (but not as 'up your nose, buddies'): 1937's "The Sitter-Downers."

(I have a wire pin, like the girls wear in this short, that says "Lucy." It was my dad's nickname for yours truly.)

Have fun. Rest up.

This would be totally awesome, if it really worked.:

Monday, January 30, 2017

Frugal Hits and Misses: January Report

Where did this month go? It has just whizzed by. We felt a little sad to have to start up the regular schedule again. The Brick trudged off to drive schoolbus a few days a week; I went back to my usual mix of appraising/teaching/dogsitting/writing. 
     January isn't as dreary here in Colorado, compared to other states -- we get lots of sun, a little snow, but not that many blizzards. Not the whizzbangers some of you further east or north have had, anyways. (Too bad, we need the moisture.) When we do get slammed, the drama usually only lasts a day or two. Then it's back to bare ground and sunshine.
     All the same, I would have been perfectly content staying home, bumbling around the house, watching tv and picking away at this and that. Too bad life doesn't let you. (Or perhaps that's fortunate.)
     After the extra costs of paying off December bills (mostly for renewing memberships and gift cards), I've been trying very hard to follow my own advice. It would be so easy to wander around and pick up 'bargains' right now. Instead, I've been reading a lot of library books, and working on inventory/consolidation for Brickworks. (Nothing like seeing what you've already got to keep you from buying more.) Kinowing I have to account to you, Gentle Readers, is helping, as well.
     It's never easy, though, is it... 

(This one includes a few end-of-the-month December items.)

Follow the road...and stay on it. That's how you make progress. I keep telling myself that.

*Covered a luncheon for Seniors -- 37 people served, for $58.50! (Go here if you missed that post.)

*Put the leftovers from that Senior Luncheon to good use. Ate some, gave some away...and whatever was left went to the chickens.

*Gave flowers to friends, and bought some for myself -- all at half or more off. These really perk up the doldrums. A large bouquet of red spicy carnations for $1.99? A big bunch of roses for $2.95? I'll take those any day.

*Got a couple of welcome paychecks -- including the Brick's paycheck for driving bus, and one for a job I did for a guild back in August.  Did a bunch of appraisals. The piano students started up again too.
         The Brick may have a new job opportunity. I'll tell you more if it materializes.

*Given a pair of tickets for the Champagne Ball.  By an appraisal client. (Thank you, Elizabeth!) This fundraiser is a benefit for Toby's Shower for Babies, a preemies nonprofit that presents gift baskets and other helps for new parents at the neonatal ICU. Unfortunately, we couldn't go -- but Daughter #1 and her guest went and represented Brickworks for us.

*Stayed away from my usual buying haunts -- even the thrift shop. The library's sale room was pretty bare, for some weird reason -- until mid-month, when they culled the Christmas videos. I bought nine at a buck each, along with one of my favorite movies: San Andreas. (Don't know why - maybe it's the blend of heroics with everything crashing.)

*Some of those movies went immediately out for sale via Amazon. I also sold several more books. (Still culling from my stack -- we have a LOT of books.)

*Bought a couple of series at bargain prices from Walmart: Jericho (an amazing survivalist-type series that should have stayed on longer), plus two seasons of a very silly but entertaining comedy: Hogan's Heroes. The latter were less than $4 each!

(Know who's playing the drums in the intro? Bob Crane himself -- he was a talented drummer.)

*Treated to several meals out (and one KFC meal in) by The Mama.

*Put out donation bags for ARC. More are headed out next week for DVA (Disabled Veterans of America).

*Caught up on some series, including Blacklist and Sherlock. And we watched them for free. Frankly, I thought the latter was a bust. Lots of drama, but little action -- unless you call being manipulated into unpleasant options, with seemingly no other choice. (And there were always other choices.) It seemed cheap and unworthy of the Baker St. detective.

     Started watching (again) a series that we've loved: Longmire. The only issue: it's supposed to be in Wyoming -- and was filmed around Santa Fe! This is one of the few television shows about the West that actually seems Western.

*Gave myself permission to be late. Sent out the last of the Christmas cards and dropped presents off for piano students late. They didn't seem to mind -- bonus Christmas presents! -- and it was a lot less stressful. I also made whole wheat sourdough for church staff. Couldn't get the rest done in time, so our neighbors and mailperson will get Valentine's Day bread or homemade pretzels, instead.
     Finished the weighted blanket late -- it still needs to be bound, but that's no big deal. I have some restoration jobs I could pick up now, if I wanted to. (Still debating.)

*Picked up a new dogsitting job. I hope to have more -- these are so much fun.

*More bonus gift cards -- Applebee's, Panera. We'll use the bonus bucks for going out to eat in January and February, as well as some of the gift cards. (The others were Christmas presents for our nieces and nephews.) We spent a lot at the end of the year, restaurant-wise -- but most of it was gift cards that earned bonuses. And we'll use these through the year. (In fact, we've already started using the bonus bucks, amending as needed with gift cards. Thanks, Applebee's and Panera -- Red Robin is tomorrow.)

*Took advantage of several meat sales - including hamburger ($2.21/lb - wow) and boneless chicken breast ($1.55/lb). Didn't buy large quantities -- we're trying to clear out the freezers and the shelves, in preparation for moving. 

*Sold some eggs. Forced to drop one of our regular customers -- the chickies were laying less than usual. They are starting to pick up again, but we'll need the extra eggs for personal use. They (the chickies, that is) are still great for snarfing up leftovers and too-old food.

*50 pounds of onions for $5.00  (split half with friends). They gave us a few turnips, which I used for pasties -- that recipe is here.

*Half-off (or more) on Christmas stuff, including candy, gum, cookies, pasta (Christmas tree and Santa shapes) and a house-shaped birdhouse with removable top -- I'll use it to store embellishments in the trailer. I really did not buy that much of these items.

Christmas in January -- yay

*Took advantage of several free coupons and grocery sales -- including gum at 49 cents (versus $1.69), Dinty Moore beef stew, a real steal at $1.00 each (reg. $2.50 --I bought 18) -- potatoes at 10 cents/pound, and some marked-down items, like sour cream, mushrooms and canned biscuits. (39 cents for the latter!) Kraft brand, by far our favorite for mac and cheese, was 50 cents -- and worth buying a case. (It keeps beautifully.) I also had coupons for free vegetables and pizza.
     I did cook a lot out of our freezer and shelves for regular meals this month, as planned.

*Agreed to sell our Cherokee to Daughter #1. She needs reliable transportation in the snow. And with the purchase of a truck looming, we need to clear out one of our vehicles. I feel a little sad about this -- we've driven Cherokees for decades, and this leaves us with only the Outback for now. But it makes sense.

*I found two pennies (outside) and a dime (inside). Plus, in a very strange way, eight dollar bills. 
     Hey, every cent counts! :)


The misses were minimal this month, thankfully -- and mostly car-related.

*Had to renew the Cherokee license registration -- even though we were selling it shortly. (I was more irritated by having to waste an hour at the license bureau. Could they possibly run it MORE inefficiently?)

*Both windshields on both vehicles are badly cracked, and need replacing. (Colorado doesn't use road salt -- gravel, instead. This is how we pay for not having our vehicles rust quickly.) Got a discount on both -- appointment's the end of this week. It's still going to set us back $500-600. Yowch.

We might have found a truck to pull the trailer by now. It's not going to be cheap.

*Bought a beautiful brand-new lambswool sweater for our anniversary dinner. Washed it afterwards -- and it promptly shrank down to kid-size. At least it was only $15, and from the thrift shop. And I did get one very nice dinner experience out of it. But still...

*Still paying way too much for health insurance and cellphones/internet. And $300 a month goes toward our dental bills. (Two crowns and counting, so far.) We're working on the phone/insurance issues -- can't do much about the teeth business.

*I racked up a couple days' worth of overdue fees for library books. Now $1.00 in the hole. Guess I'll use one of those eight dollar bills to pay it off.

You can access other Frugal Hits and Misses monthly reports here -- August - December.

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Packing...Packing...and Repacking

Wait a second. Why did we want to strip out our house, sell it and move into a much smaller trailer? What were we thinking when we decided to sell a boatload of stuff, donate another boatload (or two)...and somehow get everything we need into a space 1/4 the size?
    We must be nuts. But at least, we'll be tidier, more organized nuts.

National Park lifetime passes for seniors are going up! We're talking $80. (The current price is $10.) National Park Service is saying they'll do this 'sometime in 2017.' Oh boy. (The Brick turns 62 in late February...please, NPS, not yet!)

The woman whose accusations triggered a civil rights murder decades ago...finally admits that she lied. (She does confess "tender sorrow" for the victim's mother -- which she finally related to, she says, after she lost her own son. As if that makes it okay.)
            See if you can read this interview without feeling a little sick inside. What an evil woman.

The Fed Ex driver who dared step up and keep an American flag from being burned. Good for him. (Fed Ex is pretty mum on the subject, so far, except to say that it investigates personnel matters internally.)

The January doldrums. I can relate.  Bet you can, too. (From Life After Money)

Easy cheesy chili dip.  Three ingredients -- Super Bowl?  (From Thrifty Mom in Boise) Try her homemade laundry detergent, too.

Ten heroic police officers who died during 9/11.  (From Listverse)

Ten things you can do to save money this week.  (From The Prudent Homemaker)

Dinner prep: five minutes.  (From Betty Crocker)

Mary Tyler Moore died last week. What an intriguing person.

"How I save money"...from a 12-year-old's point of view. (And her financial fears, as well.  Thanks, Len Penzo)

A bead-collecting stewardess ends up leaving a bundle, when her beads -- many of them old and extremely rare -- are sold at auction.  (From Fox Business)

Barbara Hale died -- yes, Perry Mason's secretary. "I guess I was just meant to be a secretary who doesn't take shorthand," she once said. "I'm a lousy typist, too -- 33 words a minute."  Hale was 94.

Mike Connors also died.  He was 91. I loved his "Mannix" -- a little rough around the edges, but he would help anyone who deserved it, and beat the crap out of anyone who didn't. What a guy.

An easy, budget-priced -- and holistic -- carpet freshener. For my 'green' readers!  (From Hometalk)

Redo your kitchen cabinets -- with milk paint.  (From At Home With the Ellingtons)

Remember the penny floor from last week's 'Stuff?'  This one's even better -- and you can see it, step by step.

Getting ahead...by giving up.   (From Reach Financial Independence)

Mrs. HB works on her grocery budget -- week 3. You can see Weeks 1 & 2 here, via earlier "Monday Stuff" posts. Or go here.  (From Hundred Dollars A Month)

Sprinkle bowls for ice cream? I was surprised at how easy the DYI for this was. (From This Heart of Mine)

A pilgrimage to Sylvia Plath's grave.  I have always wondered what this great writer's gravestone looked like. Actually, other than the pens (and spare change!) adorning it, the grave looks small...and a little sad. Her husband Ted grew up in this part of Yorkshire, and Sylvia actually wrote a poem about the graveyard she's buried in. Weird.  (From A Life By Design)

An archeologist gets in huge trouble...for daring to use the words 'Temple Mount' during a site tour.  The Islamic guards insisted it only be referred to as Haram al-Sharif, the Muslim term for the area. So much for the Jewish connection, I guess.  (From the Temple Mount Sifting Project)

Back to packing. At least the house will look SOOOO much better -- for a while, anyways.

Just don't pack me, Mom!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Yet Another Post (Sort Of) on Sasquatch

I'm here...just putting fires out for a few days. I may be the only one in the state who was assaulted by Sasquatch this week. I was pulling books off a shelf when the metal Bigfoot sign we own zoomed out, knocked my glasses off and cut me under the eye. Got the start of a nice shiner, too.  
     Thanks, Big Guy.

The sign that caused all the trouble in the first place. We occasionally put this by our front door.
(Yes, it's going in the trailer, too.)

And, because it's been so quiet lately:

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Post-Recognition, Broncos-Style!

     Here's a gem.

Sam Snow, a Washington D.C. cabbie, has a carful of passengers. Along the way, they start talking to him about famous quarterbacks. Snow says that John Elway is the best quarterback -- ever.

He doesn't realize that Elway is one of the passengers. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Packing Up-dates

Remember that I mentioned we'd be putting our house on the market, and moving into a trailer soon?

Time to actively start preparing for it.

 I packed the first box of books yesterday. (Even put the date on the box proudly.) My plan is to pack a box of 'keeper' OR donation stuff every day, from now on. We have an ARC pickup on the 30th, and several donation bags are waiting. I hope to have a bunch more ready.

*Started clearing out drawers and bookshelves. The back deck needs clearing off, too. Boy, I am a thrift shop packrat.

*The Amazon listings will continue -- but:

*Ebay and Craigslist listings will start, too. Hopefully.

*Still looking for a trailer-sized washing machine. At a good price, that is.

*The Brick checked, double-checked and triple-checked all the systems in the trailer. He also filled the propane tanks. We looked for a generator...but based on others' advice, we now think we may not need it. I do think, though, we'll need some heavy-duty hookup hoses, electrical cords and that sort of thing.

*I told Gina, mom of three of my piano students, to come get our piano. Their piano is scruffy and needs repairs; this one will do them good. The piano's absence will make the dining room area look bigger, too.
       ( I can teach lessons til D-Day on our electronic keyboard, which stays with us. The Brick loves it, and I plan on learning how to play better on it.)

*We won't be taking our usual vacation in late February, to celebrate the Brick's birthday on the 20th. Too much stuff to get done. We won't be going to Tucson with Daughter #2 and Keith either, for the same reason.

*We've also been reading a lot about bloggers who live in their RVs or trailers, whether on a permanent or temporary basis. There are a surprising number!

*Trees need to be trimmed -- and cut down. They've been standing as deadwood for a season.
           (Good, because we're getting low on firewood.)

*Our Worship Team commitments end in February. We may play past that -- we may not.

*The Brick checked our clothes area. Space for 40 hangers each, not counting drawers for underwear, t-shirts and such. (This really is a very roomy trailer.)
        This concept doesn't bother me -- I basically wear the same 8 or 9 shirts or sweaters every week, and the same velvet blouse on Sundays. (Wasn't even aware of that, until I realized I was washing the same clothing every week.)

* I need to clear out the rest of the clothes, for several reasons. First, it makes living easier. Second, it gives the bedroom closet a more spacious look.

*I need to clear away the quilts, tops and excess fabric, books and assorted clutter from Brickworks inventory, for the same reasons. And because:

*One of our neighbors is interested in buying the house. Now. As-is. (They even want the chickens. Crazy.)
         (The wife is also interested in some of the furniture and books.)

Hands off us...we're going with Mom and Dad!

       We were going to have our new son Keith (referred to hereafter as Son #1) come in, tile the living room floor and redo the bathrooms.

Protecting the innocent (or not-so...)

Holding off on that for now...but wondering:

*Do we put cleaning out, donating and storage on high priority, instead of doing-it-when-we-can? 

*Is the neighbor actually going to make an offer? (They haven't yet. They want to see the downstairs first. They liked what they saw of the upstairs, though. )

*Should we get the property ready early, anyways? Castle Rock's housing market is very good right now -- and it's going to get even better, when the college campus near us finishes construction. (Colorado State and Arapahoe Community College are opening an extension campus.) The local outlet mall is expanding. And the hospital, just completed, is open for business now.

*Should we just rent out the house instead, to take advantage of the improving market? 

To make things even more interesting, Daughter #2 decided on her wedding month -- in September. Months after we're planning on being out of here. (Friends have already offered a place to park the trailer while we're in Colorado. We may try to stay closer to Daughter #2 and Son #1 up in the mountains, instead. After all, I still have several gigs to take care of, including Colorado Springs, Pueblo and Denver.) 

And the Brick thinks, after months of looking, that he may have found 'our' truck. It's about an hour's drive away, in a little dealer's lot out on the Colorado plains. We went and looked at it last night, in dusk while snow was falling. We'll go back and test-drive it on Saturday. (Make a decision too, I'm guessing.)

Upward and onward. 

Bad Lip Reading Strikes Again!

It just hit the Inauguration...

It's silly and rude...but very funny, regardless.

P.S. President Obama just happened to release $221 MILLION to the Palestinian Authority, literally hours before his term ended. I'm sure that was just a timely coincidence.
      Some of the Palestinian Authority's funds go to benefit families of terrorists. Gee, I love the fact that U.S. taxpayers' money is helping benefit people whose great aim is destroying us, Israel and others.

I must note here that Snopes.com mentions that the money was approved by Congress, as well. (Huh??) However, it was "on hold," by request of two committee member Congressmen. (Something that traditionally is upheld. However, President Obama chose not to do so.)

It has been fascinated to see a bunch of quickie position appointees, grants, etc. put on hold by yet another Trump executive order. Is President Trump insisting that these actually be checked for MERIT before the money's released for them? Seems like it...good for him. 
     He's actually acting on some of the promises he made about this. Wow.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Writer's Cake

Sprinkle Bakes just posted one of the most intriguing cakes. Literature-wise, that is.

She meant it for Valentine's Day...but I kept thinking words, words, words.

The secret: edible wafer paper, cake decorating gel...and of all things, a stamp.

How-tos are here.

Have your cake...and write on it, too. Then you can spend time  "digesting" your words.
                  (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Strangest Moneymaking Tip Ever

Turn your windshield wipers on.

Yep, you read that right. The Brick started up the car this morning at work, turned on the wipers...and money began flying all over the place. Evidently it was tucked under the wiper blades.

He picked up eight dollar bills before he was through.

Did one of our egg customers leave us money? Nope. (I checked.) Did someone else owe us? Not that we know of. Maybe the cash was meant for someone else at the bus terminal -- and they got the wrong car.

We have no idea.

Or maybe it's:

Update: My piano students' grandma fessed up: she'd put the money under the windshield wipers to pay for some rocks I'd given her. (I'd stressed the rocks were free.) The bills had been riding there for days. We didn't have any moisture that stuck, so there was no need to use them. The wipers, that is.

       I'm not the only one to get a kick out of little things like this...

A Note to Negatives

     If you read my "Monday Stuff" columns, you know that I wander about the Internet a lot. (More than I should sometimes, to my embarrassment.) Partly, it's to find good stuff for you, Gentle Readers. And partly I Just Enjoy Being Nosy.  A typical writer's stance, I guess. I'm the one sitting at the back table in the coffee shop, quietly listening and absorbing the conversations around me. It may not look like I'm paying attention -- but I am.
    By the way, I just realized that Blogger hasn't been notifying me about reader comments...there were 18 waiting! I've put some on the posts, and kept some (like yours, Barbara) to enjoy for myself.

I read a number of bloggers regularly. They're often traveling somewhere (like A Life By Design), figuring out ways to stretch their budget (A Thrifty Mom in Boise) or have a totally different life than my own (Tight Fisted Miser).

Some bloggers  are pretty radical (Short Little Rebel); some can be rude (Len Penzo -- especially his weekly 'Hot Coffee' diatribes). Some, like Money Beagle, share my Christian faith (and interest in frugality). Many do not.

Now and then, I post comments on these 'friends' blogs. Yes, I choose to think of them that way. Sometimes I agree with their viewpoint; sometimes not. But I try really hard to be as tactful as possible, when disagreeing. After all, it's their turf -- I'm just visiting.

I'm making you, Gentle Readers, a promise. Right here and now.

If you visit this blog regularly --

You. Will. Never. Be. Insulted. 

Or belittled.

Or condescended to.


You can disagree with me. In fact, I welcome the chance to hear other viewpoints on whatever subject we're talking about. You can even be obnoxious about it. (Just a little, I hope.)
      I will never treat you like an amiable idiot. Or brand you as scum, if you aren't this, that or the other thing. I just won't.


Let me hear from you now and then. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Hanging In There

     (I hope you are, too.)

Ever have that feeling?

     Maybe it's getting over the flu. Any energy dissipates quickly.

     Maybe it's finishing several jobs. (And having more to do.)

     Maybe it's our crazy weather. Up, down -- snow/none, warm/absolutely icicles. Bare ground, accented with lovely gray snowcrusts -- and an icy driveway. We're due for more snow early this week.

     Maybe it's a night or two of very little sleep. The Brick's hip has been acting up, and the poor guy was having trouble walking or getting comfortable. It's much better today (whew), but he spent the night thrashing around. Which meant I got about zippo sleep, too. Just before...

      a day I had to take care of my dogsitting responsibilities, get the car cleaned off...
               and still get to Worship Team practice at the crazy hour of 7:30 a.m. 

Think I'll make it to bed early. Tomorrow's bound to be better. As Frugal Mom in Boise points out, better to take it one day at a time.

Ten recently discovered secret caches. (From Listverse)

Best items scavenged in 2016, from the guy who does this for a living. (Things I Find In the Garbage)

'Super quick, super cheap' laundry detergent.  Gotta try this one.  (From Harvest Lane Cottage)

A woman gets thrown off a plane...for a very interesting reason!

Little money hacks that pay off.  (From Oprah.com)

The winter mantel. Decorations for after the tree, before the spring flowers.  (From The Shabby Creek Cottage)

Popular kitchen pinterest posts.  (From Hometalk)

Dealing with increased electrical costs...this cold winter.  (From Living Rich on the Cheap)

De-cluttering in a post-apocalyptic world.  It's not what you think! (From the New Yorker)

Secrets the cruise ships didn't tell you.  (From Cruise Critic)

A floor...made from pennies?  And it looks wonderful.  (From Pretty Purple Door)

Helping Mrs. HB get control of her grocery budget -- Week Two. You read Part I last week; now the saga continues. (From One Hundred Dollars A Month)

A snowplow's forced off the road in Utah -- and heads 300 feet down the cliff. (The driver survived. Wow.)

Have a great week.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Group Cooking - On Limited Cash

I teased the Brick this morning: "Darn, you don't have to go cook for forty people today!" He looked at me through sleepy eyes and grinned -- because that's what he did last Saturday.

Our Seniors Program program at church regularly feeds 30-60 people monthly on a very strict budget: basically on what the seniors contribute and other people donate. That isn't much -- generally $50-100 a month for $$ donations. (One regular visitor's estate just gave the Senior Luncheons program $500 --it will be put to good use.)

So how do you do it?

I'll use our January menu to illustrate.

Three types of chicken wings:          Barbecue
                                                          Buffalo wings
                                                          Lemon and garlic

Three soups:    Split pea and ham
                        Colorado chili
                        Loaded baked potato

Carrots and celery sticks (to go with the ranch dressing for the buffalo wings)

Cake (different kinds) and whipped cream

Coffee & Tea

*Happily accept donations. Does one of the local farmers raise beef for sale? Ask them for a few pounds of beef -- you can stretch it in a soup or stew. Is the apple crop ready for picking? A quick mention, and the willingness to pick the fruit yourself, will easily get you a bushel for applesauce or apple cake. (Or apple, onion and sauerkraut with sausage.)
        In our case, the church donated coffee, tea and a big bottle of ranch dressing for the relishes. (Gotta have it for dipping buffalo wings, too.) The biggest 'give' this month was cake. Lots of it. (Leftover cake went to the Sunday meal at Open Door, one of the homeless shelters our church helps out at.)
        I also donated spices and bouillon from my personal stash.

*Keep it nutritious.  Protein, veggies and fruit, with careful attention to limiting fat and sugar.
                 (We paid attention to keeping the carbs basic, too.)

*Have options for allergies and special diets. One of the cakes, as well as the chicken wings and a soup, were no-gluten. Other cakes didn't include nuts. If we'd needed to, we could have included a no-egg cake, as well. Several of the dishes fit into diabetic diets.

*Do it homemade, wherever you can -- but use shortcuts, when you can afford them. Canned soups and bouillon cubes give you a jumpstart on gravies and soup. Canned tomatoes still have the color and zippy aroma that fresh ones provide.

*Keep it simple.  This is no time for elaborate garnishes -- unless you've got time, can get them on sale...or have them donated.

*Introduce similar flavor 'notes' throughout. Not only does it give your meal continuity -- you won't be wasting leftovers and trimmings. They'll go into the next dish.
      Case in point: the soups. A few carrots were diced and added to the pea soup for color and flavor; chicken bouillon in two of the three soups echoed the chicken wings. (If I'd had time, I would have used the celery and onion trimmings, along with a handful of chicken wings, to make homemade broth, instead.)  Garlic in the chili and baked potato soups echoed the wing flavors. Minced celery tops went into the potato soup.

*Everything's on sale -- or inexpensive, to start with.
                   Our month's main protein sources: (prices are rounded up, for ease)

       Chicken wings -- 50 cents a pound.
           (From the 40-pound special at the Friday/Sat store --  we used about 30 pounds)

       Diced ham and a hambone -- $1.49/lb for the ham (about a pound), and the bone was leftover

       Ground beef -- $2.99/lb for two pounds

       Split peas and Anasazi beans -- three pounds for a buck each
                        TOTAL:  $15 + 1.50 + 6.00 + 3.00 =  $25.50

*That means everything, sauces and sides included.

        Sauces -- 2 bottles barbecue ($1 each, from my stock)
                        1 bottle Frank's hot sauce  ($4, Fri/Sat store)
                        1 bottle garlic vinaigrette dressing  ($1.50, from my stock)
                        1 bottle lemon juice, half-used   ($3, Fri/Sat store)
                        garlic salt, chili spices
                          TOTAL:  $2 + $4 + $1.50 + $3 = $10.50

        Stuff for the soups -- 
                        #10 can crushed tomatoes ($2, Fri/Sat store)
                        6 onions  (10 cents a pound - 50 pound special)
                        5 pounds potatoes (20 cents a pound - on sale at Safeway)
                        3 pounds sour cream ($1/pound - Fri/Sat store)
                        1/2 pound grated Cheddar cheese  ($1.88, Safeway)
                        ready-cooked bacon  (half of a $12 pkg from Sam's Club)
                        4 chicken and 2 beef bouillon cubes (from my stash)
                        box of mushroom sauce (50 cents - Fri/Sat store)
                            TOTAL:  $2 + 40 cents + $1 + $2 + $6 + 50 cents =  $12.00
        large can spray whipped cream  ($5 at Safeway -- the only item in the entire meal not on sale)*

        Veggies -- 3 pounds celery sticks   ($3, Safeway)**
                         3 pounds carrot sticks    ($2.50, Safeway)**

                             TOTAL:  $10.50

*Why spray whipped cream, instead of the much-cheaper Cool Whip-style? Because the spray stuff lasts for weeks. (Cool Whip only hangs in there for a few days before it starts to taste funny.) It's made with real whipped cream. It's easier to serve quickly -- just a quick spritz. 
          And it tastes great.

**These weren't, either.

Finally -- the cakes.  We served carrot, spice, coconut, banana -- all 9 x 13s or 8" rounds.
                    Every one of these were donated -- a simple matter of asking people who were helping out to bring a cake, too.
       Coffee and tea, as well as ranch dressing, were donated by the church.
                          TOTAL:  $0

Grand Total:      $58.50               

TA-DA!  The Brick served 37 people = $1.58 each.

And that included leftovers:  at least 2 (large) meals of chicken wings and 3-4 (large) meals each of pea soup and chili. (Some of the helpers took home food, we had some -- and a container of chili went home with Daughter #1.) 
     The Brick could have easily accommodated 10-15 more people, using what was left over.
     If 50 people were served, instead, the grand total would have been a bare $1.17 each.

*Don't forget about decorations.
 Add some pillar candles (can be used at more than one lunch), a few packages of decorative napkins and a flower bouquet. (Break up and put a bloom or two on each table.) Even if you need to buy cake  (5 or  6 boxes of cake mix, a can or so of frosting, plus oil and eggs), you'll still come in under $2/person.

Recipes for the meal are here. Next time you have to feed a ton of people, try some of these ideas. They work!

Let's Play...

If you liked Oooh..., you'll love this one, too:

Or bowling balls!

For a more elegant look, keep the ice clear. Put your filled balloon in a bowl or jar, and fill with water. 
    Then when everything's frozen, remove the balloon and put a candle in the hollow. Like this:

Another idea: put a canning jar, weighted down with a rock, in a bucket. Add decorative branches, twigs and berries oround the jar, then fill with water. Let freeze. Thaw the ice enough to get it out of the bucket, and you've got a decorative lantern. Or two or three. 

This photo (and idea) came courtesy of Pinterest and  Chippy Shabby.blogspot.com

This version substitutes large plastic cups for buckets

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Too, Too True...

I would laugh more at this...but it's hard to. I keep tripping in the hole Charley digs (and re-digs) by my clothesline.

The stinker.

Smoky Hill Quilt Club Fundraiser

I've been working with the Smoky Hill Quilt Club on their 2017 fundraising quilt:
                          "Spooling Around."

Gray octagons and squares, right? Take another look: it's actually scrappy-pieced Spool blocks. I am fascinated by the setting  -- it almost resembles an angular Double Wedding Ring. 

Heavy quilting includes plumes and all sorts of feathers, including double waving feather vines in the outer scrappy-pieced 'piano keys' border. One outer corner features an embroidered sashiko motif; another has a sewing machine. 

The Club will be awarding the quilt to the winner of a drawing later this year. Tickets are $1 each, or a bargain at 6 tickets for a cool fiver. Contact Sue Ewing (suekewing@yahoo.com) if you're interested.

Got Milk? You May Be Eligible for Up to $30 Refund

Have you purchased milk or dairy products for your household, business or group in the past decade or so? You may be able to cash in on the Bought Milk class action lawsuit that was settled recently. 


Me, too?

Requirements aren't that big a deal. You must:

*Live in Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, West Virginia or Wisconsin.
        (We're out of luck here in Colorado, but our Michigan relatives are eligible. You may well qualify, too.)

*Have purchased milk or dairy goods sometime from 2003 until now.

*Fill out a brief claimant form.

*Do it by Jan. 31, 2017.

Dairy producers are accused of killing up to 500,000 cows, so milk prices could artificially be kept high. They agreed to a settlement recently. (No doubt the lawyers got their share, too.)

Hurry and apply -- you've only got a few weeks to take advantage of this.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Ummm... Wanna Explain This?

I can definitely relate to the mom part!

     We got about 10-12 inches of very welcome moisture...which has started to melt off already. I've been working on appraisal stuff, doing some reading and catching up on household things, along with regular stops for my two dogsitting charges. Here's one of them: Miss Luna. What a charmer.

"Quick -- love me up!"
Plus three cats.

Frankly, I wasn't even sure there were three until last night, when Miss Kitty #3 deigned to appear. At least she let me pet her, as part of the bargain.

     Still not feeling completely well -- this flu has not laid us flat, but it does sap any extra strength we've got. At least it comes and goes. And some of the ironing's done. And the dishwasher ran tonight. Small accomplishments are better than none.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Fishy Updates

I've been meaning to tell you how the Seven Fish Dishes went.

The Feast of the Seven Fishes is an Italian Catholic tradition: seven seafood dishes to commemorate the Seven Sacraments.

(No, we're not Italian. Not Catholic, either.)

But we are Christians -- and this is a wonderful way to celebrate the birthday of our King. After the Christmas Eve service, we set the table nicely, using antique china inherited from my (Great) Grandma Pearl, with silverware my Grandma Cumings used for her tribe. We light the candles, pull British Christmas crackers, and wear goofy paper hats while we read the jokes to each other. (Which are usually awful -- but the presents inside the crackers are cool!)

Then, we pop the cork on the wine and enjoy -- dish after dish, carefully counted to at least seven. (This year, the total came up at nine.) We take out time, and everyone invariably waddles out, hours later.

This past Christmas Eve, the Brick played for every one of the three church services. Fortunately, I did not, which made setting up the Fish Dishes much easier.


Here's what we ended up having:

Lobster Bisque   (canned condensed soup -- ironically, from the Dollar Store!)
Angels on Horseback   (oysters wrapped with bacon)
Spaghetti with Clam Sauce
Shrimp Scampi
Tuna Casserole
Grilled Salmon fillets with lemon-garlic sauce
Grilled fresh sardines
Grilled sliced octopus

Lessons learned:

*The soup was very, very good -- especially with a can of crabmeat stirred in.

*I'd always bought fresh oysters for the Angels before. Canned oysters were a heck of a lot cheaper -- and just as tasty.

*I used to make Devils on Horseback, too -- chicken livers wrapped bacon. I thought no one liked them -- turns out Daughter #1 did! So next year, I'll restore those to the list.

*The Shrimp Scampi is terrific -- but only if you saute it at a bare minimum. Barely cook it, until the shrimp turn pink, and it's amazing -- cook it longer, and you've got 'boingy' shrimp.

*Ditto for the octopus. I messed up on this one -- it was like gnawing on a rubber band.

*The tuna casserole: winner!  A can of tuna, mixed with canned mushroom sauce, fresh mushrooms, a chopped onion, a sprinkle of Parmesan and fresh-cooked noodles -- then baked until hot. Yum.

*The spaghetti with clam sauce: failure. Even with extra clams and a shot of wine, the dish was boring. The chickens got nearly all of it, sad to say.

*Grilled foods are wonderful -- but not when you're in a hurry, and it's freezing outside. The sardines, done Greek-style with garlic and olive oil, tasted good -- but had lots of bones.
     The salmon fillets, on the other hand, were outstanding.

All that seafood would have been cloying without some 'refreshers:' blueberry/strawberry smoothies, fresh rolls with butter and jam, green salad and relishes. And dessert was a lot simpler than originally planned: Christmas cookies, chocolates and a dip from the fruit bowl on the table.

Hot, strong coffee and spumoni (chocolate/strawberry/vanilla ice cream, Italian-style) finished the meal.
     A good time was had by all.

For more fishy ideas, try my earlier post on the subject. Or check out some of the earlier years' Seven Fish Dishes for more ideas.

(This also ran on the Christmas Goodies blog -- which will start up again in the fall.)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: White Stuff

Well, it's about time this newest snowstorm showed up.
     It's been sooooo dry -- and around here, we know what a dry climate's like. Any amount of moisture is not only gratefully welcomed -- it's wished for. So what have we had these past months? A good blizzard or two, then just a faint scraping of snow now and then. 
     My poor garden. Every fresh flake of snow means it might actually be possible to grow stuff in the spring. 

Ironically, in spite of subzero temperatures, the turnip greens are doing just that. 
     Right now.

In keeping with yesterday's post:  24 different ways to build a snowman. (From Mommyshorts)

Finding an early 19th century teapot stand at a bargain price...when you originally thought it was early 20th century.  That's the kind of mistake we all hope to make! (From the Spode History Blog)

Two women who wear pjs to get groceries respond to the guy who posted their photos for the world to see. (Actually, I can see valid points on both sides of this story.)

Do you love the look of fine machine quilting? I just found Debbie Stanton's blog. This award-winning machine quilter is amazing. She's also willing to share some of her tricks and special techniques.

More classics from the Dog Hall of Shame.   (From Life With Lynn)  Including these two gems:

Buck, our Weimie, used to do this. 

Ever see an upside-down waterfall? Thanks to high winds in California, now you can say yes. (From Weather.com)

Who just got snubbed at a White House press conference -- and who got snubbed in the past? The answers to both questions will surprise you. (I sure didn't know.)

21 movie roles hated by the actors who made them. Yes, Mark Wahlberg, The Happening WAS ridiculous -- you're absolutely right.  (From Cracked)   Also:

Five famous people who survived events (sometimes multiple ones) that should have killed them.

Ten definitive pieces of evidence that PROVE the Holocaust really happened. (From Listverse)

Ten mysterious messages...hidden under and beneath other texts!  (From Listverse)

"Helping Mrs. HB get control of her grocery budget." A hands-on experiment in reducing food costs, done by the author of One Hundred Bucks A Month.

The 17 most notable moments in last week's Golden Globes awards. Three cheers especially for Ryan Gosling!   (From Urban Daddy National)

Have a great week. If you've got snow, too...why not go out and play in it?

thanks for the idea, Pinterest