Monday, July 31, 2017

Cutting Expenses When You Think You Can't, PART VI: Death And Taxes

We're all going to age and/or die. 

There -- I said it. 

No matter who you are, or how much you make, you must face the fact: Humans have a 100% mortality rate. Even if Sumner Redstone thinks he's going to live forever...he's not. (And probably shouldn't anyways, since age has just made him more creepy.) 

His case points out the importance of preparing ahead -- in other words, a will or trust. 

It may not seem that critical right now. You're young and full of beans, right? Wills are just for old people.

Well...they're not. 


Do you want to share your possessions with the government? Without a will (i.e., intestate), you can plan on them telling your family what to do. Plenty of celebrities have gone this route, including, recently, Prince -- and they've paid for it every single time in turmoil, family arguments and increased lawyer costs.
      Is that what you want? 

With a will, you can state exactly where you want your possessions -- and hopefully, insurance proceeds -- to go.

A will may be as easy as writing it yourself. Or hire an estate lawyer -- more expensive, but sticky problems may be avoided. This is particularly important if you have minor children. Who's going to take care of them, if you die suddenly? If you don't specify this, they could end up living with court-appointed guardians -- and people you don't want in their lives.
     Another possibility: set up an irrevocable trust -- an option recommended by many financial experts, including Suze Orman. Why is this preferable to a will? Because, according to Investopedia:

The benefit of this type of trust for estate assets is that it removes all incidents of ownership, effectively removing the trust's assets from the grantor's taxable estate. The grantor is also relieved of the tax liability on the income generated by the assets. While the tax rules vary between jurisdictions, in most cases, the grantor can't receive these benefits if he is the trustee of the trust. The assets held in the trust can include, but are not limited to, a business, investment assets, cash and life insurance policies.

     In other words, your money is there to live on now -- but after your death, passes to your heirs without the messiness of tax liabilities or having to settle the estate. You'll need a lawyer to set this one up, too -- but it might well be worth it.
     This is worth checking with your state -- what do they allow, and what don't they. It may be different...and may not. But you need to start asking these questions NOW.


An average cremation, based on People of Our Everyday Life's findings, starts around $1,000. The cost of an average funeral, on the other hand, hovers around $7000 -- probably more. Neither of those prices, by the way, includes a fancier casket, service -- or, in the case of the funeral, a burial plot. (Add $2000+ for the latter.) Just for fun, I checked my home state, Colorado's, cremation pricing. A 'bare bones' package from the Cremation Society: $1,195. Services, 'viewings,' etc. cost even more.

What's to be done?

*Donate your body to science. Not just the organs -- though those are valuable too, through the organ donor program -- but your entire body can help students and medical researchers learn their art more effectively. The National Body Donation group is one possibility; in Colorado, we also have the Anatomical Board. Your state will have some kind of program, too -- just do a search for 'donate your body to science.' (Here's a good spot to work through the process, as well.)
     Our Michigan uncle and aunt both did this, at no cost to their families. Eventually, their cremated remains were returned, so they could be respectfully interred, if desired.
    Warning: the paperwork has to be completed NOW. Be sure to talk with your family about your wishes, if you want to do this.
     I have.

*Sidestep the embalming process. Some states allow you to do this -- others don't. Check.

*Order a coffin yourself -- or make one. Did you know you can order a casket online -- and delivery could be free? Or build your own simple pine box -- one of our pastors was buried in one his family made. I still remember the simple, yet meaningful graveside ceremony for his funeral.
      Cremation urns don't have to be fancy, either. A simple box will do. (Rules also change for these from state to state, and from funeral parlor to funeral parlor. Be sure to check yours.) Scatter the ashes in your loved one's favorite spot, and you've saved the cost of a burial plot.

*Think about a simpler funeral.  No elaborate service, handouts or 'viewing' in a funeral parlor will cut your costs. (The church you attend may be a better place, instead.) Funeral flowers are notoriously expensive, not to mention gaudy -- deliver a simple bouquet yourself, or put the money spent into a memorial cause, instead.
     A growing trend: don't have a service at all. Or just a graveside ceremony for close family and friends. (By the way, obituaries are not generally free, anymore -- at least in our region, there's a cost to include them in print. Funeral homes, on the other hand, may provide them as part of the package. Another thing to check.)

*If you're a veteran, the gravesite, opening/closing and headstone may be free. Check with the Veterans Administration, or go here for more information. 

*Instead of spending money on funeral costs, consider using it toward a scholarship or special donation, instead. Many groups would be happy to help you set this up -- and it would serve as a reminder every year, instead of a one-time splash. Memorial plaques (on benches, near planted trees, etc.)  are also a respectful way to honor your loved one's memory.

*Think twice about prepaying for a package. Although this is touted as a budgetsaving way to control funeral costs, it doesn't always make sense. What if the funeral home closes...or arbitrarily raises prices? What if you move, remarry (in the case of a lost spouse), or something else happens? If you do decide on a package, read the fine print carefully -- including any refund clauses.

*What happens if someone you love dies -- and now you have to make the arrangements? Particularly if they died, owing money? You can use these same suggestions to save for their estate. Or, as Sally Herigstad points out, do nothing at all.  If no one claims the body, then the state or local government will step in. (And yes, you won't know what happens.)

You can see other installments on the 'Cutting Expenses' series, just by accessing Part I and scrolling to the bottom of the post. Choose what helps you most right now, and start there, if you like. Or go to the last one on the list, and work your way back.

Just a few more posts to go:  Income Hacks, Bits & Pieces-- and the Conclusion

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are...Hilarious

     Daughter #1 and I saw a performance of Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, courtesy of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. This absurdist play (think Waiting for Godot) is based on the two knuckleheads who show up in Shakespeare's Hamlet. They're old friends of Hamlet's, and are instructed by the king (Hamlet's uncle) to accompany him to England...where a handy letter supplied by the king orders Hamlet's death. Fortunately (or unfortunately for R & G), Hamlet finds the letter, and changes it to specify the duo's death, instead. 
     The play is actually quite funny, if you assume that all of life is ridiculous, and act accordingly. Lots of charging around, smarty-pants remarks...and a beginning that focuses on something impossible: dozens and dozens of times the coin flip lands on heads! 
     To my great surprise (and pleasure), the characters in this play used exactly the same actors as in the real Hamlet, which we'd seen back in June in Boulder. I thought that performance ridiculous -- now the same shenanigans fit in PERFECTLY with the silliness of this play! Even Hamlet ('Hamletta?'), prancing about like a teenage drama queen, was a brilliant foil to the admittedly-foolish Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. 
     Unfortunately, half the audience, I'm guessing, didn't see the earlier Hamlet, so they wouldn't have caught some of the funniest ironies. Daughter #1 didn't...and she's pretty quick on the uptake. Even so, she loves the play. And she loved this performance of it. 
     The play ends with R&G realizing that the letter orders their deaths -- and delivering it, anyways. (Why not contrive to 'lose' it overboard, instead?) Strangely, you really don't care that much. They knew something was wrong, and chose not to act on that knowledge. Rosencrantz's final impassioned speech seems like an afterthought, more than anything. (I found myself thinking, "Serves them right." Bad girl.)
      It doesn't put Hamlet in a good light, either. These men are supposed to be her old friends. Yet she seems almost enthusiastic about their impending deaths, when the person she should be revenging herself on is the monarch who ordered the letter in the first place. 
     The final irony happened when the cast came out to take their bows. We've seen three Shakespeare plays at the festival this summer -- two (Taming of the Shrew, Julius Caesar) were 'okay,' and one (Hamlet) was just plain stupid. All three got enthusiastic standing ovations from the Boulder crowd.

     And this play? The best, by far, of all four we'd seen this season? 

     Daughter #1 and I were getting ready to stand up, when the clapping suddenly stopped and the cast filed off. The only person who stood up that we could see was a lady in front of us. 
     Serves us right for being slow. The cast deserved a standing ovation -- they were wonderful.

That brings up yet another question. Was the 'serious' performance of Hamlet that we saw actually meant to be ridiculous -- on purpose?

 If so, they were making fun of a play I, and many others, hold dear to my heart. Frankly, with Boulder's habit of sneering at convention, I wouldn't put it past them.

     Makes you wonder. 

Mousey update:  We're doing better. The traps inside haven't had anything for nearly a week -- a blessing to the Brick, especially, who is particularly occupied with our furry friends right now. (He spent some hours sweeping out the garage, as well as under the kitchen sink, frustrated every time he found evidence of Their Existence.)
      I'm just glad they seem to be decreasing. 

John Elwes: the celebrated miser who complained about birds stealing his hay to building their nests. Possibly the inspiration for Charles Dickens' Ebenezer Scrooge.

Jumbo diaper packs from Target -- for less than $4??  Moneysaving Mom shows you how.

Ten REALLY well-preserved shipwrecks.  (From Listverse)

Butter pecan pancakes. Oh my.  (From Crazy for Crust)

Celebrities -- 77 of them -- who lost their homes (and other stuff) to financial problems. Nicolas Cage begins the lineup... poor guy. He should have known better.  (From Loanpride)

Letters from parents left back in Ireland after the Great Famine -- to their son, who emigrated to America. Sad and moving.  (From Irish Central)

Five 'lost' paintings -- found under other paintings. 

LOVE this tiny saltbox house!  (From Tiny House Design)

A garage becomes a light-filled studio.  (From Dwell)

From $30,000 to $200,000 -- how he did it.  (From Penny And Rich)

Solomon's Stables: history and deconstruction. Did you know that a mosque was built on the stables' footprint?  (From the Temple Mount Sifting Project)

"Jeweled patterns with atmosphere:" a painting tutorial inspired by medieval designs. (From Painting

Thirty-three facts about famous landmarks.  (From Mental Floss)

Thirteen Disney Park secrets:

Drinking from the hose, eating from the dirt.  A word poem to summer from Donna Freedman at Surviving and Thriving.

"How I trick my chickens into growing my garden."  (From My Pet Chicken Blog)

A very cool upcycled denim crazy-quilted chair. (Vicki Meyers Creations, via Funky Junk Interiors)

Seven smart ways to invest in Old Master paintings.  (From Artnet)

Gentle Readers, you visited this blog more than 6,000 times in July! Thank you so much.

Stay cool, and have a great week.

Better Not Enter--

A real sign -- stops and makes you think, huh.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Dogs and Snacks

What else do you do on a weekend, if you're a dog...

Crunchy spiders, too...

Charley would do this in a flash, if he thought he could get away with it.
He once raced through an automatic door at DIA. If he could have figured out the escalator, he'd be in Brazil by now.



Thursday, July 27, 2017

Da-duh... Da-duh...

In honor of Shark month:

Shark Attack Jello Shots

All you need: blue jello, some gummy-type shark candies, a cup of rum and red dye.

Maybe skip the red dye...eww.

 If you're feeling timid about it all, this version substitutes regular fish:

Here's another version -- same concept, but expanded to include a beach.

Be sure to hum this while you're working. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Frugal Hits and Misses - July Report

     It has been a long, hot month: trudge, trudge, trudge. Work on commitments. Wash clothes. (Wear them damp sometimes, because it just feels wonderful.) Feed the animals. Work on the house. Work on the yard. Try to sleep. (Much of the time, it's  too hot, and one of us is restless.) We're making progress; filling and getting rid of the dumpster was a big step forward. 

I'm not sure how we did it...God's grace, most probably. But so far, we've paid for property taxes, extra expenses for the truck PLUS bathroom renovations without having to pull money from retirement accounts. We did take out a mortgage loan to help pay for the truck and bathrooms, but there's still a chunk left  -- not a huge one, but we still have extra left. And that will go back to help quickly pay the loan off. 

     God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.


*Donated bags and bags of stuff,  to the Disabled Veterans and the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum. What a relief to see these go out of the house, and on to a good cause.

*Watched some more free television -- episodes from Supergirl, Turn, The Vikings and our newest: The Mist. Got a couple of dollar videos from the library's used book room.

*Toured Celestial Seasonings' Boulder plant. Not only was the tour free -- we got a free box of tea for signing up for their e-mail newsletter. They were also having a 'tent sale:' 75 cents for a 20-bag box, and $1.00 for 40-bag boxes of Celestial Seasonings tea. Guess what the girlies are getting in their Christmas stockings...
    If you're visiting in the Boulder area, be sure to stop by and visit. It's interesting, and the tea prices are great.The only caveat: kids 5 years and younger are not allowed on the tour.

Jo, Willo and Chris, toasting the latest Celestial Seasonings tea. I am lucky to have these good friends.

*Made a stop at Leanin' Tree's western museum of art -- this is one of the nicest smaller art museums I've been to, and it's free. (It's also only 3 minutes from the Celestial Seasonings plant.) Sadly, the museum is closing at month's-end in August; the paintings and sculpture go up for auction in January next year. Info is here.   Free factory tours and a gift shop will continue after the museum closes.
     One extra bonus on our recent stop: a rack of postcards of paintings and sculpture -- free for the taking!

*Started a new phone plan: combined with friends in an expanded family plan. Not only was it cheaper, it included unlimited data -- something we're going to need when on the road.

*Didn't do much shopping -- and then, mostly on necessities for the house. Home Depot and Lowe's are getting to know us and Son #1 by sight.

*Half-price day at the thrift shop. We live in one of the wealthiest counties in the country -- which makes going to Treasures in the Park a rewarding experience. Often I can find clothing that's better quality, with brand names, than what I could afford elsewhere.
     Today was no exception -- thanks to the sale, plus a volunteer discount, I got two denim shirts (one of them Land's End) and a linen shirt for $1.25 each. Jeans for me, and a pair of shorts for the Brick:  $1.50 each. Birthday cards for 12 cents. Videos for 50 cents to $1.50 (for sets). I held back a lot -- don't want to move any more than we have to -- but these were all great deals we can put to good use.

*Jesters Dinner Theatre in Longmont: a night-out production of Anything Goes -- for $25 vs $40, thanks to a Groupon-type special. (Plus a free drink for joining their e-mail.) Enthusiastic dancing, and the show's female lead is amazing. The food's good, too.

*Met the deadline for recertifying with AQS...barely. To keep up my certification with the American Quilter's Society, I have to submit a detailed report and sample appraisals every three years. (A $100 check, too.)

*Flowers for the back deck and front. A pink-streaked yellow rosebush ($8 and change), plus a purple Eyes of God flower basket ($6.80). The yellow rosebush I got back in the spring on discount just produced its first blossom!

*Big bag of hot dog buns -- from a friend. (We used them for a meal or two, and fed the rest to the chickens.) Another big bag of rolls, from a stop at the thrift shop. (They give out free bread once in a while.) These padded out supper -- the rest will go to the chickens.

*A couple of deli readycooked chickens for $3.59 each.

* A huge sale on freezer burritos: 25-cents each. (I bought 17, which helped get me through the week the Brick was gone.)

*Two dogsitting jobs.

*Got some Christmas and birthday presents on deep discount. (Now if I can only store them until then without the recipients noticing. I've already caught Daughter #2 rummaging through a box.)

*$20 worth of cherry tomato plants  (plus some free bananas and a can of mice) from our neighbor friends. Hopefully those tomatoes are going to start bearing big-time.

*Cherries for $1.49/lb -- then 97 cents/lb! Hooray for summer's fresh produce.

*Some appraising -- especially collections this month. (I was also busy revising and clearing away ones I'd already done. More's coming in August and September, anyways.)  Deposits for an upcoming restoration job, and 2018 gigs. An editing job. A focus group for our newly-renovated library.
      Everything helps.

*Sold two books on Amazon. (One never arrived -- had to refund. Darn.)

*Whenever Swagbucks offered extra points (Swagbucks) for shopping, I ordered -- if it was something we needed., produced two bath mats, dogfood and treats. Plus a tank top and another birthday present on deep discount.
     Swagbucks is a great way to get bonus points for items -- and searches -- you need to do, anyways. They don't sell your information, and the Brick and I each earn about $50 in Amazon gift cards each year. Go here if you're curious and want to know more.

*Free bag of dogfood from Petsmart. ($25 worth!)


*We needed to rent the dumpster an additional month. Ah well.

*The Brick's mandolin bluegrass camp cost -- gasp -- MONEY! Actually, it was very reasonably priced, and he and friend Mike weren't spendthrift. He loved it and learned some things. And he had a nice break from the chaos at home. I'm glad he went.

The mandolin player at his art

*Garden #1 fried because of the heat-- the flowers and tomato seedlings have needed extra water to stay alive. We've also had to keep the swamp cooler running a lot, which means higher utility costs.

*The chickens are still alive. And still laying -- barely. I let some produce spoil -- ergh -- fortunately, they made good use of it.

*Didn't get a book and video returned in time. A couple bucks in overdue fines.

*Some household repairs that still need doing. More $$ out of the savings kitty for this.

*More teeth issues -- a root canal this time, for the Brick. Oh joy.

*Money is still flowing out for the master bathroom renovation. Thank God it's slowed to a trickle now.  We'll have to kick out more soon for paint and flooring, but it's okay. We'll deal with it.

*Another expense is looming, as well:  the Mama's upcoming birthday celebration on August 19 in Michigan. We'll share the costs with Brother and his wife, which helps. They're good Hollanders, too, and quick to see a bargain. We'll deal with that, too.

Every time I save on something, I'm part of a long and proud tradition. You can, too.

For previous hits & misses reports, starting with June, go here. 

Summer can only last so long. For which I am very grateful.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Fruity, Flowery Wine... By Accident!

     At least three weeks ago, I opened a #10 can of mandarin oranges. ($3.00, courtesy of the Friday/Saturday store in Arvada. What a buy.) After we ate most of them, I put the rest in a plastic pitcher in the fridge.
     Where they sat...and sat...and sat.

     Finally, during my current clean-out campaign, I served the oranges topped with whipped cream. They looked ok -- they were fine, right?

     Son #1 took the first spoonful. "These oranges are fizzy," he said.
     "I think they're alcoholic," the Brick chimed in.

They were right!

Those silly oranges, plus a little juice, had acquired a tangy effervescence that was actually better than the original. Somehow, they acquired enough yeast from the air to make the citrus version of hard cider.


I thought about this when I read Penniless Parenting's take on Redbud Flower Wine. She mixed a bunch of flowers with sugar and water, then left the jar on the counter to catch any 'wild yeasts.' A few weeks later, it made a mildly alcoholic wine. A few weeks after that, it became a spicy vinegar for salad dressing and such.

Does this mean that I should open another #10 can, and leave it in the refrigerator for a few weeks?

Or will it turn into vinegar, instead...

Update: The dumpster is gone. A very large truck stopped by this afternoon, and hauled it away, with much crashing. Suddenly our driveway looks HUGE.

Bye bye, Large Orange Friend...and whatever the heck that graffiti scrawl said on your side.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Grandma, I'm Thinking Of You...

Shades of  my tiny five-foot Grandma Cumings. I saw her, standing at the back door, take on her grown sons -- my uncles -- and yell, "WIPE YOUR FEET!"
     Which they did, sheepishly, like the little kids they once were.

She only carried a shotgun during hunting season, though...

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Dumpster Diving

This has been our friend for the past two months. 

Broken chairs, replaced toilets, rotting boards...anything and everything has made its way into the gaping maw of our Large Orange Friend, with our blessings. It looks terrible in the driveway -- but like the smelly dog who cheerfully takes care of your leftovers, you can't always have perfection.

Hey -- we resemble that! 
Last Thursday, our contractor friend said the dumpster was going away today (Monday). That meant ramping up the throwing-away process -- and fast. The Brick spent Saturday afternoon getting rid of old drywall from the garage. Yesterday, we spent much of the day dragging out all sorts of items, and topping it off with selections from the wood trashpile behind the garage. Daughter #2 and Son #1 showed up in the evening to help finish off the job. (Either they were really kind...or stupid. Either way, we were very grateful.) 

     It's still HOT, with a bit of cooling-off toward night. Someday, we hope to take a vacation. Go swimming. Have a picnic. ANYTHING that doesn't mean sorting through fabric, filling up bags and throwing wood, javelin-style, into the dumpster. 

     It's full, by the way, and waiting for pickup. I won't be sorry to see it go.

Abby, on the other hand, stays. She's priceless1

AUGUST 27th is the deadline for buying your senior national parks pass at $10. (Actually, it's $20, if you buy it online -- $10 for the pass, $10 for the processing fee.) On August 28, the price goes up to $80! If you're 62 or older, you should seriously consider getting this NOW.

A black cop, doing her job, is murdered while on duty. How come we're not hearing more outrage about HER death?

Ten ways the Victorians poisoned themselves. My old favorite, fabric dyes, isn't even on this list.  (From Listverse)

Dealing with the heat, when you live in a truck.  (From Inside the Box)

"What's with all the haters?"  From Thrifty Mom in Boise... the way I've been feeling lately.

What they found when renovating a dimestore in a small town in Michigan. (Our cousins own this place!)

Basting a quilt by using pool noodles. I knew about storing them this way, but makes sense. (From Quilt Digest)

A Swiss couple went out to check on their cattle -- and disappeared. Seventy-five years later, their bodies emerge from the snow!  (This happens more than you think: like the two young Japanese climbers whose bodies were found on the Matterhorn -- 45 years after they disappeared.)

Six normal people who made split-second decisions to do something crazy -- and brave.  (From Cracked) Also from them:

Five historical buildings with weird hidden stairs, buildings and such. Including the Lincoln Memorial! And yet another one:

Five everyday places with dark historical secrets. Case in point: Hitler's suicide bunker is topped by a kids' playground!

Cats and rats, living together.  I don't know what I think about this...but the Creepy Index inches up every time I think about it.

The quinoa whisperer...and a look at gardening, Alaska-style.  (From Survive and Thrive)

Martin Landau died last week. An elegant man.

Martin Landau-Mission-1968.jpg

John Heard also died -- only 72.  He is probably known best as the dad from Home Alone, but he had some incredibly complex roles, including 'good' guys who are really 'bad.' (But you don't know it until the very end.) An amazing actor.

Have a good week. Stay cool, and go SOMEWHERE.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Get In Touch With Your Inner Kindergartner

I thought this quite interesting...

I teach students how to do this with watercolors, but have never had much success with crayons. 

Looking forward to trying this!

Visit Kitchen Table Classroom for the particulars.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Slow Progress

Still hot. 

Everything feels muggy and sticky. The refrigerator started dripping a pool of water while the Brick was still at mandolin music camp, causing momentary panic. Fortunately, he was able to tell me which nozzle to turn off, to get the water to stop. (It was the one for the icemaker.)

     The dogs find a cool spot on the tile or rug, and lay as flat as possible under the fan.


Sleep gives Mr. Charles some relief -- he's been scratching a lot because of allergies.

We got a little rain, yesterday and today. (Thank you, God.) The grass resembles plaid -- half brown and half green.

Son #1 has been sick, keeping him from working more on the master bathroom. (Poor guy.) Being here in the heat wouldn't have benefitted him much, anyways.

I trudge through the work. Various movies have been keeping me awake, including Day After Tomorrow and San Andreas (disaster movies), goofy episodes of Night Court and Keeping Up Appearances...Robin Hood, the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I also watched the full run of Planet of the Apes movies -- which have been surprisingly good.

     Maybe it helps to watch them at 2 in the morning. 

Battle for the planet of the apes.jpg
This one was still a little weird, even at 2 a.m.

 I saw two of the new Apes, too, with Andy Serkis as Caesar. (And they were good, though the dogs were nervous about all the growling and snarling.)

No coffee. That's the Brick's job - I make horrible coffee. A strange menu, consisting of watermelon and cherries (both on sale at King Sooper's), mac and cheese, seafood salad, eggs, freezer burritos (25 cents each)..and dozens of gumballs. Extra-strong tea, plus a glass of iced grape juice now and then.

The Brick called. The guys are coming home a night early! They'll be home late Friday night.

     So glad. Maybe I can actually get some sleep.

I'm not griping. This is just the way life is right now. And finally, we are starting to make some progress. Which is wonderful...especially since the dumpster is going away on Monday.

    Life goes on.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Sandal Time In The Summer

Sewrella has a wonderful summer project:

Using plain flipflops and some simple crochet to make stylin' Greek sandals. 

Flipflops are inexpensive, to start with -- and many are on clearance right now.

Here's the link, plus full instructions. This might be the start to one of your Christmas presents!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

"Just Enough Pain to Learn Compassion"

John Roberts spoke recently for his son's graduation at the Cardigan Mountain School in New Hampshire. Here's part of what he said:

“From time to time, in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice. I hope you will suffer betrayal because that will teach you the importance of loyalty. Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time, so that you don’t take friends for granted. I wish you bad luck again, from time to time, so that you will be conscious of the roll of chance in life, and understand that your success is not completely deserved, and the failure of others is not completely deserved either. And when you lose, as you will from time to time, I hope every now and then your opponent will gloat over your failure. It is a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship. I hope you will be ignored, so you know the importance of listening to others, and I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion."

“In a certain sense,” Roberts said, "you should not be yourself, you should try to become something better.”

Wow. Are you listening, too?

Christmas in July

Only six months til Christmas. 

Hard to believe, isn't it? With temps like these, it seems incredible that this sort of white stuff is ever going to happen again.

Actually, reading about Christmas -- and even getting in a holiday-themed movie now and then -- has a cooling effect during these sweltering days. Why not get a step ahead, and purchase a Christmas present now? Or make a project, like these baby print-related gifts.  (The 'Gift A Day' series run by The Prudent Homemaker is also very good.)  Country Living magazine has a whole list of 50+ diy gifts, as well, for your family and friends.

Edible presents will hang out in your freezer or on the shelf until needed. (This batch is fun, too.)

Here are some other ideas to get you started. 

*Start saving money. Five bucks a week, saved from now through mid-December, will give you approx. $100. That can buy a lot of extras, if done wisely.

*Don't forget the clearance areas...or the dollar store.   Stocking stuffers can be surprisingly inexpensive at the dollar store. But my favorite, by far, is the clearance section.  Summer is one of Wal-Mart's favorite times to clear out everything quickly -- like the rack of beach towels, marked down to $1.50 EACH, I saw this week at our local store. (I literally followed the clerk down the aisle as he was taking them upfront. Got the best of the batch too, including butterfly and 'Frozen' patterns.)

*Buy staples, a little at a time. Nuts, chocolate chips, marshmallow creme, cans of condensed milk -- these are used in a variety of dishes.
         Even though I don't generally start buying seafood now for the Seven Fish Dishes, I do look for sauces, canned soups and such to use. Bacon freezes well -- so does shrimp and salmon.

*Freeze or can fresh fruit.  Use it as a present -- or a sauce, garnish or ingredient in a special dish. While it's in season, you won't find better prices...and fruit that actually tastes good. (I am so tired of 'cardboard' fruits at the wrong time of year.)

Peaches are coming soon to Colorado -- another month or so.

*Go through your things. What do you already own that could be used for projects or presents? This will have a double benefit: you'll keep Extra Stuff down to a minimum by using what you've got.

*Check garage sales or thrift shops for craft materials. Partly-finished kits, skeins of yarn, beads and fabrics are often at rockbottom prices right now. It's also a good time to look for small gifts like crystal stemware, and clothes to wear at those special events.

*Ditto for Christmas decorations: lights, balls, garlands, candles and such.

*Dream about recipes. Now's the time to wander around holiday cookbooks or internet sites, looking for Good Stuff. (Like this batch, from Taste of Home.)

Here are some more posts on planning for the holidays -- this one and this one.
     This blog helps, too.

The time will go by faster than you think. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Lonesome Bluegrass Blues

     The Brick left yesterday morning for something he's always wanted to try: a week's worth of playing mandolin, getting classes and learning new tricks. Bluegrass Camp, it's called, in Levelland, Texas. Friend Mike went along, to take banjo lessons. The guys will room together, play together...and basically enjoy the heck out of themselves all week long. 
    As for me, I get a chance to keep odd hours, eat out of cans, sleep in the middle of a pile of dogs...and hopefully get a lot of work done. But it's already too quiet, without this quiet man around.
    Son #1 is here periodically, working on the bathroom renovation. There's Charley, Abby, Karma (our granddog) and the chickens. So I'm not alone.
      I still miss the Brick.

This blog has been passing 5500 hits fairly regularly this month, and headed toward 6000 -- whoo hoo!  Thank you, Gentle Readers, for your kind attention. Thank you especially for your thoughtful remarks regarding the importance of courtesy and respect. 

Did you realize today is the anniversary of the Romanov family's assassination? Ninety-nine years ago. (I didn't, either)

We may be starting to stem the tide in the mice invasion. Three little guys got snapped this week; we'e hoping for more. (Son #1 said he would take off the current mousetrap crop for me -- yuck.)

"My favorite non-neutral paint colors."   (By Emily Henderson)

The new girls -- a chicken story.   (From Our New Life in the Country)

The 'official' climate change numbers have been extended -- into the next century. Turns out the predictions aren't jibing so well with actual numbers. Like Al Gore's prediction in 2004 that the Polar ice cap would be gone by now. (It isn't. Oopsies.)

Perfume and Spam -- my favorite.  (From Messynessychic's '13 Things I Found on the Internet Today.')

16 emergency dinners -- 35 minutes or less. Betty Crocker to the rescue.

Five years after early retirement -- what's been learned.  (From Retire At 40. Which, based on his photo, is just what he did.)

Keeping yourself clean while camping. (From Thrifty Mom in Boise)

How in the world did a strange detective series like "Monk," OCD included, ever come to life? Now you'll know.

The privilege -- opportunity, if you will -- of being able to pursue financial independence. Think smarts, education (self-educated counts) and determination. (Or what we would call 'sheer pigheadedness.') Thanks, Frugalwoods, for pointing this out.

An easy Pineapple Cake decoration.  (From Crazy for Crust)

Insiders' responses to the 2017 Emmy nominations.

"Don't thank me for my military service!"  An interesting 'Ask Prudie' post.

A kid in Colorado wakes up to crunching sounds, and a bear trying to drag him out of his tent. In Ward, not far from where Daughter #2 and Son #1 are!  (The kid lived, fortunately.)

Two states start requiring work, volunteer hours or job training for being able to get food stamps -- and enrollment magically declines more than 50%. Go figure!

Ten odd discoveries in storage units. There are some weird ones here, guys...from Listverse. Plus: ten discoveries made in people's backyards. Also from them:

Ten still-unsolved mysteries from the art world. Did you know, for example, that there are THREE Mona Lisa's, at the very least? Probably more out there -- and while we're at it:

Ten interesting Antiques Roadshow appraisals.  (From Mashable)

Saving at restaurants -- with kids or without.  (Thanks, My Abundant Life)

Ten nasty facts history somehow disregarded. (From Viral Top)

A son's sad that his mom didn't sell anything at a craft fair...see what happens.

100+ FREE quilt blocks. Thanks, American Quilter's Society. Also, they've got an interesting how-to on creating a block containing your fabric memories. (They call it a 'color portfolio.')

A very funny father-daughter wedding dance.

(The Brick, incidentally, says he is not going to do this at Daughter #2's upcoming wedding. No way.)

Sixteen things you must eat at Disneyland.  They're that good!  (From Crazy for Crust)

Have a good week. Listen to some bluegrass, for the Brick's sake.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Hanky Panky Revisited

My handkerchief quilt method has been a favorite for many people for a long time,

The sequel, Hanky Panky with a Flourish, has been in process for a few years now. I had hoped to finish it off this summer...but clearing out the house and moving has to come first. It will give the original method,  but several new ones, as well. Some patterns are for my more nervous students -- you don't have to cut the handkerchiefs.

Some weeks back, I taught an HP class at Holly's Quilt Cabin in Littleton, CO.  Here are some of my students' work, in progress. Didn't they turn out great!

Carol used a largely-blue palette very effectively, even including some commercial appliqued guest towels.
She mixed smaller and larger scale motifs, as weell as specialty edges, sometimes by layering them.

Sandy had two interesting "big boys" (larger-scale prints) to work with.
Careful positioning lets them shine, without overpowering the piece.

Here she is, in the flesh. Nice job, Sandy!

Karen takes a more minimalistic approach, with gray quietening down the yellow and green touches.
Note the two crocheted-edge butterfly hankies.

Here's Karen, by the way...

Kris's version...that's a photo-transfer in the middle, copied from an old tradecard.

Here's what she started with, using a Hanky Panky kit.
(We sell these in a wide range of colors & patterns on the Brickworks site.)

And just for fun -- The Mama's bandanna Hanky Panky. This version's even faster to make, because bandannas are BIG. The center 'running horses' was cut from a preprint pillow design.

    Thank you, students. You did a terrific job!

                  What's life without a little Hanky Panky to liven it up...

A finished Hanky Panky, from another student, Cindy Thomas. Beautiful.