Thursday, November 29, 2018

Elf Yourself...Or Someone Else... Quick!

Yes, it's back.

That zany program, wherein you can insert anyone's face and make them prance like a besotted elf, is here again.

I enjoy doing this to our girlies and Son #1, who put up with it patiently every year. (I add the dogs in too, but they don't care.)

Go here for more. 

Some silly examples, so you know what you're getting yourself into:

Christmas with Cats   (Mew)

and  Secret Santa (these are said to be the original dancers):

Just think of the opportunities for embarrassment.

Rudeness and the holidays...they just go together.

Thank You, Police Officers

I came across this Square Diamond painting on Pinterest... 

     and thought it typified many officers. Thank you, Police, for continuing to do your job, even when it's difficult and you're insulted for it. 

Keep the faith.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Got A Few Minutes?

These videos are very helpful. Quick to watch, too.

28 Life Hacks that will change how you do things. (Including a surprisingly easy way to hide an extra house key)

27 Cooking hacks:

These are even better.

Plus 25 ways to use (and cook) an egg!

Thanks, 5-Minute Crafts.

Charley approves of the egg business...

Monday, November 26, 2018

Frugal Hits & Misses: November 2018 Report

What a month.

Way busier than I thought it would be, thanks in part to talks for The Book and two collection appraisal appointments. (Those mean at least 20 more hours of writing and research each.) The Brick has not felt well; for two weeks, sadly, neither did I. But that paled in comparison with Son #1 and Daughter #2, who lost their mom Nov. 5
     November's dreary skies and bare ground have made everything look dull and cluttered. The house is messy, in spite of putting away several boxes. A huge pile of clothes needs ironing and putting away. Large bags of books, clothes, etc. need to be donated.
    The reports should be completely caught up by the end of the month, thank God -- then it's on to three restoration jobs I've been looking forward to finishing. The holidays are looming, with the prospect of several singing gigs, wrapping presents, cleaning house... plus planning for the Seven Fish Dishes.

(This includes a few items from late October.) 

*Free investment dinner, with friends. Another free dinner, this one with the ASA appraisers chapter. (Sadly, the food was awful at the latter -- but the talk was interesting.) A potluck, at our church's Thanksgiving feast -- sold 3 books, plus we got a large takeout container stuffed full of turkey, dressing and my leftover mashed potatoes. Free meal!

     We didn't go much for Veteran's Day this year... just didn't feel like it. But we did take advantage of Golden Corral's free meal for veterans. The Brick also got a coupon for a free haircut.

     Another potluck happened for Thanksgiving, hosted by Daughter #1 and her partner. Price of admission: four pies. In spite of a recurrence of fever for me, the evening was interesting, filled with good talk and great food. Sold a book there, too -- it happens!

*Did some catsitting for our neighbors. Deliberately let a last-minute dogsitting job go...because I had the flu, and the Brick was anything but enthusiastic about taking it on. Just didn't feel like it.

*Two little girls, ages 10-14, will get boxes for Operation Christmas Child. What a wonderful way to help out children around the world. It's not too late to have Samaritan's Purse build a shoebox for you!

*Lindor truffles -- my family adores these. Amazon had a special: 120 for $18.71, including free shipping. Works out to less than 16 cents a wrapped truffle -- whoo hoo!  (You have to watch for these specials...Amazon currently is asking $43.41 for the same pkg: 36 cents a truffle. It adds up.)

*A free concert of Gilbert & Sullivan music. I love G&S, but we had to go on a Friday night -- the Brick refused to let it get in the way of the hallowed Michigan/Ohio State game on Saturday.

*Flu kept me home for most of two weeks... and improvising out of current freezer and pantry food, rather than buying more. I guess that's good. I put off two errand-runs for the same reason, and let a few coupons expire. None of them were critical.

*Didn't have to cook a full Thanksgiving dinner -- just pie. (See above) Regardless, I:

*Cleaned out the fridge. That way, I've got space for:

*Turkey for 49 cents/lb, and ham for 97 cents/lb (Safeway). Five pounds of potatoes, 69 cents each. Put it all together, and I not only had ham for breakfasts, plus a turkey for Christmas dinner.

*Cooked the pumpkin I bought for a buck in Michigan. I'd been using it to decorate the book sale table at the recent signings.
     Three bad oranges in a 3-pound mesh bag of clementines = a fresh bag as a replacement. (Note to fellow Hollanders:  ALWAYS politely ask for a refund or replacement if you have spoiled fruit in the bag, even if it's weeks later! Just be sure to keep the bag...and the receipt, if possible. I have never had this questioned.)

*Got a $25 overdue fee waived on the credit card. (We missed the deadline by four days, darn it.) Had to pay $15 interest, though...I HATE that. Ironically, we had to pay credit card interest last November, too. This is not like us at all. But then, we've had extra expenses on an already strained-tight budget. I'm not complaining, considering.

*Watched new episodes of our favorites, including The Walking Dead and The Last Ship. (The last of the latter--I'm going to miss Adam Baldwin.) Monarch of the Glen (only 5 episodes - darn) has been an interesting new friend. Got Branded as an early Christmas present for the Brick -- inspired, no doubt, by all the tv cowboy shows we've been watching lately. Plus, I have vivid memories of Chuck Connors' epaulettes getting ripped off. (!!! Yes, Gentle Readers, the full DVD set was very reasonably priced: $21.)

Ooh, that Chuck -- what a cutie.

*Saved on insurance. The sale of the Outback let us take one vehicle off our policy -- which the customer rep said wouldn't affect our premiums at all. What?!? After much discussion, and a reminder that they'd had us paying extra fees because our different policies weren't hooked together, we finally got a substantial discount for the coming months. But we had to work for it.

*Halloween candy, a Thanksgiving wreath and two fall-themed tablecloths: 50% off at Wally. Some Halloween fat quarters -- 75% off. More Halloween items for a stunning 90% off. (The latter are going in the girlies' Christmas stockings.) I did have to go back to Wally for a refund, when the clerk charged one tablecloth properly -- but not the second.

*Several mesh bags of red and orange peppers -- foursomes for $1 each. I love red peppers.

*Sold more copies of The Book. Sent copies to Brother dear's family, as well as Brothers-in-laws' families (equally dear), as early Christmas presents. Helloooo, media rate!!
     Sold two videos via Amazon, too.  (I'd given up hope.)

*Sent a large Christmas box of books and videos, nearly all from the thrift shop or the library used book room, to nieces and nephews for their kids -- and themselves. (Cautionary note here: you can NOT send magazines this way -- even though publishers do it all the time. Go figure.)

*Twenty bucks in free Red Robin 'cash' -- when I bought a big batch of gift cards for our employees at Brickworks. Used a BOGO coupon there...and paid full price one visit, because I thought we had an additional coupon. (We didn't.)

*A pretty little pot of roses: 3/$10.

*Free cheeseburgers at Red Robin. I have no idea why they thought this would be a smart idea, but the Brick and I enjoyed them -- twice.

*More appraisals done. Feels wonderful. 

*Piano lessons given.  Just one student at present, but two more are due to start soon. I don't charge much on purpose; this is my small part to help cultivate music-lovers. But I do something I enjoy...and the extra $$ buys groceries and pays the water bill.

*Had to practically beg for one gig check -- but finally got it. Reimbursed quickly for several others. We're finally on our way to having an emergency fund again.

*Several book signings, one talk. (Two more coming in December, and more in 2019.) Nearly all of these were selling books for the host -- not us. We paid our own mileage and other expenses, too. (Guess that should go into Hits...except it will have long-term benefits.) Fortunately, one of the two December signings will be for Brickworks' copies.
    The Book continues to do well. Hooray!

*A bunch of Amazon Warehouse Deals -- many were the last one in stock, including dried cranberries, Christmas stocking candy and a steal on pecans: $5.70/lb. (These made wonderful pecan pies.)

*A new toaster, for slightly more than $16. To replace the old one.

*$2 videos from library -- lots of them. Several were TV Westerns, which the Brick and I seem to be craving lately, including Wagon Train, The Deputy, Wyatt Earp, Sugar Foot and Chuck Connors' The Rifleman. We also dug out our collection of Have Gun, Will Travel.
    The surprising movies have been spaghetti westerns, including This Man Can't Die, released in 1968 as Long Days of Hate. Italian-made, like the Clint Eastwood threesome, but like Eastwood, the main star is a Californian: Guy Madison. (Try watching him, and not think of James Franciscus.)
    You can see it on Youtube for free:


*Dinged the neighbor's car, backing into it. A half-dollar-sized scrape, plus another further down by the wheel, were the result. Sighhh. Waiting to hear how much it's going to cost.

*Paid for the order of new books. Ouch. (Gave away a number of review copies, as well.)

*Sent out a number of free books, including Ghosts & LegendsCrazy Quilts and Quilts of the Golden West, for my appraisal clients. They've been so patient with me.

These are both good present options, too!
Contact us for more -- and a sale.

*Went through a LOT of printer ink this month. Much more than usual. Envelopes and other shipping materials, as well -- but it makes sense.

*Clogged pipes meant a plumber's visit, soon after Thanksgiving. (Tree roots were the culprit.) A $93 coupon saved us $169 in additional charges. I'm grateful we had an emergency fund to pay him from! You don't always appreciate the bliss of clean clothes, clean dishes, clean body and flushed toilets -- until they're not possible. 

*Charley's vet visit. It wasn't a dislocated hip -- he's just aging. The biggest help to easing his pain has been, surprisingly, CBD oil. It's not cheap, but to see him prancing around again is worth it.

*Continuing to pay on one medical bill: $990 and change. But at least it's the only one...and our monthly payment is $33.00. Some other dental bills needed paying, too -- fortunately, they're small.
    Other medical bills came in -- all paid by insurance. Thank God. I mean that.

*The Brick had another doctor's appt. And x-rays. And tests. Hopefully, because of his medical expenses earlier this year, these should be nearly all covered by insurance.
    These medical expenses are discouraging... and have meant that I've put off some of my own needs, like new glasses. (Mine are scratched up, and the only pair I have.) Sometimes I feel, like Katy here, that I'm saving pennies up-front while dollars are pouring out the back. On the other hand, those pennies often help to pay off the dollars.

Do I believe that God cares about us? (And you, quite frankly.) YES. Yes, I do. It's been amazing to watch sudden opportunities or sales surface, 'just when we need them.' If the Master of the Universe cares enough to help us keep going, I'm going to trust Him -- even when it gets a little scary.

Last month's report is here. Or take a look at last year's November report -- way different, huh. We've had improvements this year. No mice, lots of income, and time to start cleaning up and putting away, is a big step forward to our future plans.

    P.S. After I wrote this, the Brick noticed a light scattering of sunflower seeds from the bag I'd gotten for the birds. The bag of seeds went into the cooler outside (already holding extra potatoes and carrots). Yup, we've got at least one mouse again...

Welcome to Mars!

The first NASA spacecraft to land since 2012 has touched down on the Red Planet.

Unlike its predecessor, the Curiosity Rover, the InSight vehicle will stay put for months to come. Its job: drill down through the surface, and see what's out (or down) there.

It landed this morning (11/26), after a jarring six-minute descent.
Go here for more. Good for NASA!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Time for An Advent Calendar

Make your own Advent calendar, with these 13 choices from Knock Off Decor.

Many use everyday items, including stuff from the dollar store. 

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Monday (Sunday?) Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Here We Go

     Mr. Flu made a return appearance, just in time for the Thanksgiving shindig in Denver. I wasn't in best form, but did enjoy the talking and various foods -- Daughter #1 is a fine cook, dating a fine cook, and their friends are fine cooks, as well. Going to one of their potlucks is a visual and tasteful feast, though Daughter's partner was heard to mutter how he 'massacred' the turkey. (It was a little dry -- but not bad.) 
     We went out to eat at Red Robin, then to a concert Friday night with friends: free and/or coupons. A Hollander's dream. Too bad I couldn't get my cough to stay home. 
     And this weekend, it's just been stay home and work, though I've grabbed some extra sleep. This flu stuff really takes it out of you. So did Michigan's defeat
     The outlet mall across the highway has been CRAMMED with people wandering around. We had to go down to that area for an appointment, and ended up stuck in traffic for about 20 min. each way, waiting to people to leisurely pull out of the parking lots, push in front of each other, and generally make a nuisance of themselves. I feel determined to avoid that area like the plague for the rest of the year. Besides, we're not shopping much -- only a few presents each, and those are already purchased. 
     Does this sound a little aimless and disconnected? Yeah, well, there's a reason for it. Mr. Fever keeps tapping lightly at the door.  The wind is howling past the windows, blowing a fresh coat of snow around the yard. (I got the clothes off the line just in time.) Time to finish up, and head to bed.
     Then back to work.

The Christmas cactus is almost ready to bloom again -- I hope.

* * * * * *
ADVANCE NOTICE:  I'll be at Roxborough State Park's Annual Author Signing Dec. 8, from 10:30 a.m. - 1 p.m., to do a little schmoozing, tell some stories (including a short talk, I think) and hopefully a lot of book signing. Go here for more info.   Roxborough State Park is at 4751 E. Roxborough Drive in Littleton, CO.
    P.S. I'll also be signing books at Denver's BookBar Dec. 21st. Info is here; more soon.
* * * * * *
A purse-stealing crew is prowling the country... and Colorado police think they're working the Front Range right now. Wallets have been stolen in Colorado Springs and Castle Rock at several places...including the Panera I often go to for coffee with friends. (Yikes) Be on the lookout -- they're probably operating up in Denver, too.

Please tell me why hundreds of people have been suddenly reading my 2016 post on the demise of Quilter's Newsletter Magazine -- and other organizations.  Nearly 300 visitors to that post, just on yesterday. Makes me wonder...

A modern-made missionary, killed on an isolated island. John Chau left one last letter on a fishing boat the night before he was murdered. See what your notions are about this...I am not sure what to think.

17 Christmas decorating ideas from one of the great divas, Emily Henderson. Bear in mind, they'll cost big bucks. (She's never seen a purchase she can't double or triple in cost -- then announce how 'reasonable' it was.) Often, though, these settings can inspire more budget-based solutions.

'Elevated Acre:' one of Manhattan's best-kept secrets. A gem of a park, hidden above the crowds.

50 'working dinners' every busy mom and dad needs to know.  (From Taste of Home) Including
           Muffin-Tin Lasagnas

The family who was forced to leave their dog while evacuating from the Camp Fire -- and returned home to find her guarding the only house that didn't burn in their neighborhood. (Unfortunately, it wasn't theirs.)  Good dog!  Speaking of the Camp Fire:

The 'bus driver from heaven' who saved a few dozen kids -- and their teachers -- by staying calm and doing his job. The Brick drove a schoolbus for several years; it's not an easy thing to do.

Some of the best career advice the author of the 'The Simple Dollar' ever received. And it's good, too. Particularly "ask questions, even if they're dumb ones."

20 celebrities who are surprisingly careful with their money.

A holiday with the in-laws.  Sad...yet encouraging. (From the Misadventures of Widowhood)

Ten mysterious libraries. Careful -- books can produce dangerous ideas! (From Listverse) Also from them:

Ten interesting passengers on the Mayflower.

An elevator in a Chicago skyscraper breaks a cable -- and falls 84 floors. Six people were inside. Did they live? Click on the link and find out.

A Viking ship burial found with georadar on farmland -- not far from Oslo, Norway! Radar is showing a larger cemetery around it, as well.

George's football-loving dog... from an old Monday Stuff post by yours truly.

Have a good week. If you're on break, enjoy it!

Lesson #3: Michigan-Style

   Yes, Michigan got beat -- stomped on -- massacred by Ohio State today in college football. 
                                                 The final score: 39-62.


Yes, we were embarrassed. The Michigan team should have been, too -- it was the worst they'd played pretty much all season.

But it isn't the end of the world.

Hope you're listening here, Coach Harbaugh.
(And please, tell us humble viewers why you allowed Ohio State to run -- largely unopposed -- 
to the side. Again and again and again.)

Friday, November 23, 2018

Lesson #2 not getting a big head about your accomplishments. 

Or getting too mired down in what you're working at...

Lesson #1 in Not Getting A Big Head

Well, there you go...

The Mighty Hunter(s)

I come from a hunting family -- past, present and future.

When the Mama was a kid, everyone went hunting together. A huge tent was put up, and every adult carried a gun. (The women just knocked off earlier in the afternoon, to get supper.) Wood was chopped, animals cleaned out and hung -- and at night, plenty of stories were told around the woodstove. In the mornings, one uncle fried pancakes while everyone got ready.
    In case you're wondering, everyone put their sleeping pallets down on the tent floor (spread with canvas) at night. They slept together, for warmth's sake, rolled in their particular blankets: husband/wife, then wife/husband next to them in that order. I'm not sure where the kids were, but am guessing that they were in one big group together, also for warmth. (It gets cold up in Michigan on those late fall evenings.)
    I visited 'hunting camp' several times as a kid, but not as a teenager. My dad went a few times, with Brother in tow, but was never an enthusiastic hunter -- though he was a crack shot. I did, however, go out with cousins now and then, deliberately crashing through timber to scare the deer out -- and toward the waiting people. We also hunted small game -- and ate everything we got. (Fishing was the same way: you catch it, you clean it -- and you eat it.)

So when the Brick and I married, it didn't occur to me NOT to go hunting. On that first trip, Tommy (now one of our oldest friends) protested, saying that women shouldn't be out there. Another friend promptly told him to shut up, and said that HIS mom always went hunting, why couldn't I be there, etc. etc. (Kudos to him -- I was so grateful.)
    Besides, I tended to feed Tommy and his son, along with the Brick and the girlies. So he shut up.

I haven't been hunting for years now -- in great part because Colorado's hunting seasons (Sept. and October) are smack-dab in the middle of my busiest teaching/appraisal/judging times. Both daughters also enjoy hunting with Dad. They cook for their dad... but sometimes for Tommy too, who still likes to order them around: "Make me a sandwich, woman." (Don't worry, they tell him where to go!)
     The girlies love to argue with their father, and spoil him, in turn. So often I let them do just that, and stay home. This year, the Brick's health did not let him go. Tommy and his son did go hunting -- but spent the week covered in mud, and saw very few animals.

Our nephew Kevin hunted this month in Michigan (their seasons are later), and got this beautiful 4-point buck. (7-8 points in Michigan; scoring is different there.)

Nice job!

Son #1 also went hunting -- but for birds. He got a snow goose...which he said had a surprising taste -- almost like steak -

photo via John Hocking/Pinterest

and will be headed out next week to hunt for white-tailed deer. (He got one of the licenses in Colorado's 'leftover' draw.)

Good luck, Mighty Hunters!

The girlies and their dad, on a previous year's trip

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a wonderful day with your family...your friends...yourself.

I've Got A Little List

For all the people who are insinuating, sneering, screaming and just plain insulting, pro-Trump, anti-Trump, pro-Brexit, anti-Brexit...

the ruckus seems to be getting louder lately. 

I'm proposing a break. Pause, think calming non-political thoughts, and enjoy this musical interlude for a minute or two.

Or maybe not!

Thank you, Gilbert & Sullivan...and The Mikado.

Monday, November 19, 2018

More and More Things I Don't Understand

I haven't done this feature for a while, and the items are piling up. Let's clean out the Department of Oddball Stuff...and see what you think!

Yep, definitely bigger.

Pat Robertson knows just how to banish demonic spirits from  your thrift-shop clothing purchases!
     Find out here.  (I was wondering how to do that.)

Pamela Anderson -- the bouncing-chest heroine of Baywatch and other historically accurate shows -- criticizes the Australian Prime Minister for "smutty" comments.
      No reason for her to have any knowledge of that sort of thing. Nope, unh unh.

I don't want to know.

Yummy - to both.

Did you have to think about this one for a while?

The first legal slaveowner in the U.S. was black himself -- and a former indentured servant.
See the Snopes explanation here.
(I can relate to this, since my ancestor, Isaac Cumings, made his way to the Colonies as an indentured servant.).

Ummm... Safety First?

Question for the photo-taker: Did you?

And finallly, in the interests of Equal Opportunity:

 More non-understandable things here, if you're enjoying this sort of thing.
     (I can't help myself.)