Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hmmm...



Courtesy of the UMC Marine Corps Facebook page...


I'm not saying nothin'!

America's Glorious Quilts is Waiting for You!

Yes, this giveaway is still going strong! Go here to enter for a free copy of one of the large photo/informational books on quilting you could find. Looks great on your coffee table, too.





Giveaway ends Sunday at midnight...

Chip E. Nell, I know you read this blog regularly -- but we still haven't heard from you about the Hanky Panky book you won a few weeks ago! We'd love to mail your copy...when we get your address. Please e-mail me personally at cindyjbrick@gmail.com....quick!

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff -- Ok, Fine -- It's Tuesday

      We spent the weekend on the Western Slope, camping on Grand Mesa and buying peaches in Palisade. (Their Peach Festival is coming up Aug. 16-19...but we couldn't go that weekend. Plump, juice dripping down the chin when you bite into one...boy, I'd better go get another one right now!)
      It rained a few times, but we stayed dry. The only casualty: Charley, who couldn't understand why Mom and Dad wouldn't let him (and his sharp toenails) up on the air mattress. (Dumb dog.)
     I stopped to do an appraisal in Vail, which got us home late...enough time to heat up something quick for supper, and watch Lord of the Rings. (Have to get ready for The Hobbit!)


    It was very relaxing, but made me late with the weekly list of Interesting Stuff. So spank me.

Fast, cheap and good -- which two do you want?  Basic -- and sensible.

Chief Joseph's war shirt brings more than $877,000 at auction. Why so much? Provenance up the wazoo, including a photo -- and portrait -- of Chief Josseph wearing the shirt. But this was considered the low end estimate. (The shirt was valued at up to 1.2 million.) Zowie.
     One curious thing about this piece: according to the in-depth article, it surfaced at an Indian relics show, with no attribution. After it changed hands yet again, the connection with Chief Joseph was finally made -- and of course, then the value skyrocketed. When I mentioned how much this sold for, the Brick said, "To someone who's got a lot more money than us!"

(Some background on this brilliant chief, if you're not sure who he is...)

A Goodwill painting turns out to be worth big bucks. The purchaser bought it for the canvas -- she had planned to paint a giant cat over it!

Six easy ways to encourage someone. Big-time. Another way:



Need some new approaches? Check nature...she's got all sorts of new ideas when it comes to design.

Are you home-schooling? This blogger has eleven kids...and a very workable schedule. Wow, Raising Olives. Very impressive. 

Mummy discoveries, made by testing. 


 Creative ideas for some very inexpensive gifts. (Don't miss the comments, especially.) Thanks to Money Saving Mom for these. they go well with the gifts-for-groups from Stuff a few weeks ago.


I've got some appraisal reports to finish up, and a bushel of peaches to process. Have a great week...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Food... What's It To You?

Brace yourself -- I feel a rant coming on. 


I love food. (A little too much.)

Slap a bag of lime-flavored Tostitos my way, and I'm in heaven. Crunchy pretzels. Sourdough bread. A slice of Rocky Ford melon. (You may not know it in the rest of the country, but Rocky Ford grows the best cantaloupe in the world. And that's coming from a Michigan girl who grew up on wonderful apples, peaches, cherries and such.)

The Brick, on the other hand, goes for the sweet stuff: cookies, candy bars, cake. "Pogeybait," his dad called it.

We're careful about our food. We have a garden. (No pesticides, just soap and good old manure.) Chickens. (Who won't produce for a few weeks yet. C'mon, chickies -- think eggs!)

Inspired in part by Frugal Upstate's menu plans, we eat at least one vegetarian and one fish meal a week...two, if I can sneak an extra vegetarian one in. I bake some of our bread, cookies and nearly all of our cakes. Nearly all the entrees are from scratch: stir-fries, soups and stews predominate.

We eat a lot of dairy -- milk (great for calcium), yogurt (tummy troubles) and cheese. I water the milk down to make it go even further -- 4 cups of water in a gallon of whole milk, and you've got 'skim' without even realizing it. 

We love meat. When possible, I'll buy a pig or cow from ranching friends, and have it butchered. The Brick hunts, so venison, elk, antelope join the menu. Fish and chicken make regular appearances. These are usually coupled with a lot of vegetables, and some carbs.

Our food budget stays pretty consistently at $25-35/week. Not great for two people, but not bad. Certainly much less than many people spend.


I don't buy 'organic' unless it's on sale and/or close to 'regular' prices.

That last statement alone is enough to condemn my food choices.

There is a strong contingent in my church -- otherwise a warm and friendly place -- that loves to focus on 'healthy' food -- 'healthy,' that is, if it follows their strict rules. These women (and I really love them dearly, they're gentle and kind otherwise) often have young children who are raised on the same strict basis. Their income is limited -- but that doesn't stop them from wildly overspending on 'natural' (i.e., purchased in the health foods store -- not from a garden or farmer's market) and 'healthy' (because a corporation told them it was so) items. Even if they can't pay their bills elsewhere, this is excused, because their families' health is so important.
     Allergies are often brought into this subject -- but if I ask specifically about who is allergic to what, the response is often in vague terms -- or focused on one child, when there are several in the family. I get the feeling, in many cases, that in spite of the emphasis on allergies -- there are none!

We've known many of these families for years...some of them for decades.

Are they healthier than we are?
Financially more stable?
Are their children appreciably healthier/smarter/better-balanced than the average kid?

Nope.

Do they have a set of iron-clad rules that must be followed, whether they can afford it or not?
Do they sometimes keep their kids from making lasting friendships, because they're afraid their children will eat something 'bad' at the other family's house?
Do they hold back from celebrations, for the same reason,.or insist that people bring food that adheres to their specifications...or they won't come?
Could it be possible that some of those 'miracle' foods have otherwise-healthy things sneaked into them? (Processing is processing, after all.)
Is it possible that big corporations who own some of these 'health-based' companies really have their own profit in mind...rather than ours?

Yup.

And finally -- can their faith, not to mention their focus on what's really important, be affected by all this?


Absolutely.
I see the same strong emphasis, with moral lines being drawn, by many bloggers on the Internet circuit, especially places like Blogher. (One of my favorite bloggers, Money Saving Mom, bless her heart, too often focuses on this, even though her other emphasis is frugal living.)
     As one columnist pointed out recently, food choices should not be a moral issue.  There are many other things to deal with right now: health care, finances, helping yourself and your family to be happy, contented, sane and productive people.


Food shouldn't shove all that aside.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

New Giveaway: America's Glorious Quilts Redux!

This was such a hit before that we're offering our second (and final) copy as a giveaway, too!



AMERICA'S GLORIOUS QUILTS 
   by Doris Duke Dennis & Harding



This enormous encyclopedia of quilting includes thoughtful, well-researched articles on various styles. (The one on Crazy quilts is especially good.) The best part, though, are large, vivid color photos you can really study for details and technique. From the outside, it looks like a coffee table book -- but it really is a self-education course in quilting and quilt history. A wonderful book.

    And now it's FREE to someone who enters the giveaway! 
All you have to do is leave a comment on this post. Perhaps...
     What quilt pattern do you keep coming back to?
              or
     What's your least favorite part of quilting?

Or anything you like.
 Leave a comment -- and you're automatically entered in the giveaway! (Be sure to use your name, and include a way for us to contact you.)

That's not all. Sign up to get blogposts by e-mail...or 'follow' it, mention it in a separate post below, and you've got 3 extra entries in the giveaway!

Giveaway ends next Sunday, Aug. 5, at midnight MST, and the lucky winner will be randomly chosen on Monday the 6th.
     Now it's your turn...let us hear from you!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I (Heart) Turkey Red!

This vivid shade of scarlet has been a favorite, ever since a reasonable way to keep it colorfast was formulated -- by the Turks. Who had an interesting habit of killing anyone who knew the secret to their dye...and wanted to leave. Talk about proprietary information!

The National Museums of Scotland website has an incredible online exhibit of Turkey Red prints -- plus lots of juicy history about the dye's origins. (Mostly from the Scottish viewpoint, of course.)

Sprint over to this site -- if you're interested in old fabrics at all, you'll love the variety here.
    Have fun. Don't drool.

What's Turkey Red? Here's some, from an 1888 Grover Cleveland campaign bandanna

Monday, July 23, 2012

Can You Bear It??

A bear cub...in the mall?


Maybe she was updating her fur coat for fall...


(Go here for the full report.)

Four Generations of DeVrieses

Niece Stephanie and Nephew Adam's darling baby is up on Facebook...and I just had to share the photo with you. (Hey, humor me, ok?)
   If you ever wondered what The Mama looked like, here she is, holding Baby Adie. Little Brother Mike is on the right. (Lucky he wasn't wearing many buttons -- they would have busted right off.)
   Proud dad Adam is on the left. Love you guys!


Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff

Still hot...but what's new. Jake, our Lawn Muscle, is out mowing -- I keep running out there to pour cold liquids into him. (Poor guy.) Temps are supposed to be like this for some time, so we might as well get used to it.
     I know you've heard about the theatre shootings here in the Denver area. (Here's what he looks like, in case you're wondering.) The Batman movie is absolutely terrific...why, oh why does someone with a sick mind have to do this?? (Next question in my mind -- why didn't someone in that theatre jump him?)  
    What was a little weird about Batman: The Dark Knight Rises were the many actors who also had been in Inception, including Tom Hardy, the guy who played Bane. (You never would have guessed it was him...) Granted, it was the same director, and the actors did an outstanding job. Loved the movie-- even forgot I was in a movie theater for a while. But did he really think we wouldn't notice?


     While I'm inhaling the sweet smell of fresh-cut grass and ironing, you might enjoy some of the things found lately on the Internet:

Len Penzo's 10 Best Things I Ever Bought...and the 10 Worst. These may surprise you.


I Pick Up Pennies on snacking your way into debt. Junk food may be cheaper in the short run -- but you pay, in more ways than one.

19 Tricks to avoid eating so much at restaurants, courtesy of Bargain Babe.

An interesting way to clean up crappy-looking stairs, courtesy of Southern Hospitality.

Donna Freedman's competing in the Personal Finance Olympics, and could use your vote. Just click on this link to her article on 'stealth saving,' and you're there. (The article's good, too.)


Battling Belly Fat... courtesy of AARP. (Not that any of us has to worry about this...ahem.)

Six ways to save on a funeral -- Five Cent Nickel's suggestions. I'd add donating your body to science. (Actually, this is the way yours truly's mortal coil is going to shuffle off.) My uncle died back in late fall -- no funds for his funeral, but he had arranged ahead of time for this. His body is helping a medical school now, and eventually his cremated remains will be returned to his family, at no cost. You do have to fill out some paperwork now, but it's not complicated. 

Saving money on your visit to Yellowstone National Park. Prairie Eco-Thrifter has some terrific ideas here that can easily be applied to other vacation spots.

A Tennessee man finds something interesting while renovating his walkway -- 13 tombstones underneath!

On the value of hard work and self-sufficiency. Young in the Mountains is a breath of fresh mountain air, about a young family who are growing or harvesting their own food, baking bread, looking at nature and so on. (Although the tie-dyed bit seems a little typecast.) Try this interesting blog.  

And Octomom's just signed for a reality show. In spite of what she's been saying all along.
    All I can say is -- it figures.

Oh, and...
Kris Driessen at QuiltBug has some nice antique quilts for sale -- for very reasonable prices. If you want to learn more about old fabrics and styles, this is the place to go.

* * * * * * * *
Chip E. Nell, you're the winner of our latest giveaway! A free Hanky Panky book is yours -- just e-mail me personally (cindyjbrick@gmail.com) with your snail mail address, and we'll get it out to you.
    If you're still wishing for a little (or big) Hanky Panky in your life, we're hosting a sale. Go here for more...you've still got this week to get it at a GREAT PRICE. Find out more here.
   The next giveaway will be up shortly. Have a great, restful week...



Thursday, July 19, 2012

Under Where?

Yes, it's true -- 600-year-old bras have been unearthed in an Austrian castle.  Four garments (along with others) that strongly resemble the traditional brassiere, complete with cups, shoulder straps and so on, found at Lemberg Castle in the Tyrol. 
Actually, they were discovered back in 2008 during an archeological dig, but the scientists couldn't believe what they saw, and had to double-check via carbon dating and some other research. (Be sure to read to the end of the article -- there's a quick reference to underpants and their connotation as the man's claim to power. Women went without. Maybe this is where "who wears the pants in the family" really came from?)

Why is this so important?

Because it's been long said that the bra was  invented by Mary Phelps Jacob in 1910, a wild-and-crazy debutante who didn't like the way her corset poked out of the neckline of her evening gown. (And it was uncomfortable, too.) With the help of her maid, 'Polly' stitched two silk handkerchiefs and a ribbon together, the basis for her 1914 patent.
Jacob's original patent drawing, from Wikipedia

     Ironically, the shop she started in the 1920s to sell her new product -- the Fashion Form Brassiere Company -- was also a convenient place for trysting with Harry Crosby, the man she was having an affair with. (She later married him.)
     Other companies sold 'brassieres' before this...but it was thought to have started with Polly's last-minute invention in the 'teens.

    (Polly Crosby with husband Harry, pondering improvements, as well as their new interest, the Black Sun Press. He came to a bad end; she kept on publishing into the 1940s.)

Oops.

    Obviously someone in the 1500s had already come up with the idea, although it didn't catch on back then as much as corsets.

 From Wikipedia -- An 'hourglass' corset from the 1870s. Ouch.

 What is just as interesting about this find -- many of the medieval age clothing and shoes we know about today have turned up not only in the ground -- but in the walls!  This is especially the case with shoes -- more than 120 known --and extremely old --examples have been discovered stuffed behind chimneys, imbedded in plaster, inside ceilings or in between walls. The reason: they seem to have been considered 'spirit traps' -- ways to keep your dearly departed from coming back to visit you. (And bringing friends.) They also kept a tradition as a way to discourage intruders, burglars and such.

     Folk magic, if you will.

     A detailed report, primarily on shoes, is here, with Great Britain as the focus. Shoe dates range as early as the 1300s, and into the 19th century. In that report, 19th century and modern builders surreptiously walled in shoes as good luck charms, a way of warding off evil.

(A side note: did English colonists do the same thing in America? Yes, there's some documentation...though I can't find much on the subject. One example - and a list of others - is here. )


    So if the shoes are 'protecting' the house, what happens if they're removed?

    "A Hampshire woman...had innocently sent her finds to London for identification. While they were away, the house which had hitherto seemed so benign, had strange noises from the attic room where they were found. She even went to let the cat out, only to find nothing there. When there was a sensation of the floor shaking, her son refused to sleep there. She had heard that shoes were put in the chimney to keep out evil, which came in at the highest point [40]. An Abercarn finder reported that while the boots were out of the house for exhibition, they had nothing but bad luck, the death of pets, flooding and the shed fell down..."


     Papillon Hall's slippers are also frequently cited.  
Supposedly, weird (and fatal) things have happened whenever its showcase pair of 18th century women's slippers are removed. (It's a long story -- just go to the link to see them and read more.)

Concealed garments may just have been put in as insulation in the walls -- but that doesn't fit their rarity or seemingly deliberate placement. Historians believe they had a similar connotation to shoes, though they're not found as frequently as footwear. The report quoted above cited a number of clothing items also found, especially headwear. Plus some unnerving things, like cats and chickens. And now and then, pipes, candlesticks, papers, toys and other household items...all generally worn-out or broken, sometimes on purpose.

    Now bras can be added to the list. Which makes me wonder -- 
What other long-held traditions in textile history aren't really true??


* * * * * *
From the Wikipedia entry:
[The Crosbys were married in New York City, and moved to Paris in 1922.] Harry continued his work at Morgan, Harjes et Cie, the Morgan family’s bank in Paris. They found an apartment overlooking the Seine, at the Quai d'Orléans on the Île Saint-Louis, and Polly would don her red bathing suit and row Harry down the Quai d'Orléans in his dark business suit, formal hat, umbrella and briefcase[9] to the Place de la Concorde where he would walk the last few blocks to the bank on Place Vendôme. As she rowed back home, Polly, who was well endowed, would enjoy whistles, jeers and waves from workmen. She said the exercise was good for her breasts.[9]





Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My Baby Is Mortally Wounded


No, it's not our daughters. They're fine.

My baby -- the Jeep Grand Cherokee who's taken us through years of driving -- is totalled.
                                          (It's like this, but tan.)

It's all the hailstorm's fault. Darn hail, anyway. The adjuster said it would take more money to fix than the car was worth.
    I can't believe it. 
That car and I have been through hell, blizzards, high winds, searing heat, even a dust storm together. (Did that last one on the way home from a gig once, on the Colorado border. One of the most terrifying things ever, quivering under an overpass with a bunch of other cars. The sky really does go totally black, with objects whirling past you. Now I know how Dorothy and Toto felt.) 
     It's schlepped the girls to school. Carried umpteen loads of lumber, dog food and groceries, not to mention several beloved dogs. It's done the 800-plus mile trip to Michigan to see The Mama and family many times...all without complaining. (If you're looking for a reliable vehicle, this is the one to get. Our experience with several Cherokees over the years, other than the occasional tuneup or brake job, has been remarkably trouble-free. Ok, we did replace the engine on the first one, after 200,000 miles.)
    Sure, it doesn't look that elegant. (But it handles on a dime! It zips around corners fast -- saving us from several would-be accidents.)
    It's more often covered with mud and dust, thanks to the Brick's habit of four-wheeling and taking it hunting. (And the hailstorm 'dimples' are kind of cute.)
    It's getting a little elderly, and the odometer is sneaking up on 199,999. (But it's a powerhouse in a storm -- and gets you home, safe and warm throughout, through blinding snow. And all of our Cherokees have easily gone over the 250,000 mark.)

    I love my Jeep Cherokee. All of our Cherokees -- and we've had three now -- have been excellent. Hopefully the next one will be the same.

   I just don't want to see this one go.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

It's A Quiet World Out There

....well, sort of.

A lot of people around here go on vacation this month and next -- Coloradoans do not tend to visit the 'hot' spots (Rocky Mountain National Park, Garden of the Gods, etc.) during holidays, though, because we are inundated with tourists. There's always a few RVs chugging up the highways, trying to deal with the altitude. Not to mention the locals, who are gleefully ignoring the speed limit. (More like a guideline, really.)


Also, school starts the first week of August around here...making these next few weeks a perfect time to head for the mountains. Or south, to New Mexico. Or just plain out of state.
    I enjoy these quieter weeks. You can go see the latest Batman movie without jockeying for a spot. Putz along if you feel like it...speed if you don't. Sitting out at night on the deck, watching while the lights come out...no rush.
   Speaking of no rush, you've still got almost a week to get in on the new book giveaway -- Hanky Panky! Go here to enter; the giveaway ends Sunday at midnight.
   You might as well enjoy summer now, heat and all --

                   because cold weather's not that far away.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff

     Sure, it's Monday...but after everything that's happened this morning, I feel like I've lived a whole week through. The Brick caught some flu over the weekend, and is brooding in the bedroom -- the fact that it's 92 bazillion degrees outside is not helping matters any. (I see storm clouds over the horizon -- come on rain, we need you!) 
    After I get the dishwasher loaded, appraisal reports finished, chickies checked on (they're free-ranging outside again), orders packed -- THEN I might actually be able to start on what I'd planned to do today. Feels an awful lot like this.


Meanwhile, in the Department of Stuff:

Jessica Simpson turned 32 last week -- yes, she of the golden voice, new baby and reputation for strange quotes, including these gems:

 "On my first day of Jr. High I was in Geography class, and the teacher asked us if anybody knew the names of the continents. And I was sooo excited...It's my first day of 7th grade, I’m in Jr. high and I know this answer. So I raised my hand I was the first one and I said A-E-I-O-U!"

(Introducing herself to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton in December 2004): "You've done a nice job decorating the White House."

"It’s fun to do a small film that might be released to DVD not because it’s a horrible film, but because it’s an independent film." (Oh yeah?)

 "I've almost had my license taken away because I ran so many red lights. But it was worth it. Everybody was safe, I must add. I haven't killed anyone."

 "To be my man, you have to put up with a lot. I toot under the sheets, I spend a lot of money and I can belch the ABCs." (So what - the Brick can belch 'Jingle Bells.' Yes, I know. You're envious!)

And finally, this one:
"I think there's a difference between ditzy and dumb. Dumb is just not knowing. Ditzy is having the courage to ask!"
    So is she ditzy...or actually really smart?

What's in the Big Mac's Special Sauce? McDonald's executive chef answers...and shows you how to make one at home. A lot of skepticism from bloggers on McDonald's motives for doing this -- but I thought it a nice touch.



Hail, No! And Other Natural Disasters (a post I did about our recent calamity for Penny Thots).


A dangerous criminal is caught red-handed (er, pawed) stealing flags off veterans' graves in Cedar Park Cemetary.

A snapshot of Thailand -- and Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle's laundry. This woman's blog has more on their month-long stay in Thailand. Fascinating. 

An old Roman cemetery has been uncovered in Norfolk -- 85 graves so far, one of the largest ever found in Great Britain.

Dozens of ideas for buying a group presents -- for $1 or less each. This is an old post (and a rerun I posted back in 2008), but still holds true. Good for planning, not only for birthday parties, but the holidays. Yes, they're coming...

Pinto Bean Pie -- another oldie-but-goodie. I'm not talking about Frito Pie -- this one is sweet. (She says it tastes like pumpkin.) 



A scientist named Dr. John Drewe makes a sizeable donation to the Tate Gallery. (He plans to donate a few paintings, as well, but those are withdrawn.)Then he starts selling dozens of valuable paintings from a group he's liquidating for his mentor, gaining more than a million dollars in the process.

    Only he's not a scientist. (Actually, Drewe isn't even his real name.)
    And his mentor doesn't exist.
    And the massively valuable, vintage paintings he's selling as originals? Well, you guessed it: they aren't. Turns out that the brilliance of his scheme was not in the paintings themselves, though some were pretty darn good. It was in the provenance. Which he stole-- and planted-- in the Tate Gallery and elsewhere.
    The 'scientist' went to jail. So did the forger, John Myatt, who faked the paintings...for a little while. The funniest part of this convoluted tale? Myatt is so good that now he has his own following of loyal fans ordering copies of various classics. (Kind of like those people on Ebay who will paint anything you want, for a few bucks.)
The forger even had his own exhibit of fakes. (Now they're implanted with a microchip which supposedly keeps them from being considered genuine. Right.)
    Anyways, the whole story is here. And the man who started it all? 'Dr. Drewe' is back in jail, after cheating a schoolteacher out of her retirement.  Go figure.

A great white shark trails a kayaker...and almost gets him. Yikes.


One of the creepiest Bigfoot sighting reports ever -- and it's recent. (Jan. 2012) If you live near Lake Mack, FL, you're not going to want to read this one.

There -- a strange (but hopefully interesting) mix of what I came across last week. Charley the dog is asking to go outside and stare at the chickies -- talk to you later.





Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Simple Truth...And Life Goes On

My post about "Sandy" just hit the Penny Thots website...yay! You met her in one of my earlier posts; this one elaborates on her situation.
    If you've never visited Penny Thots, you would enjoy it -- about 15 different bloggers take time to post on a wide variety of topics frugal -- from thrift shops to buying a house, getting your best credit card deal to the newest ways to cook -- and save. I've enjoyed reading it myself. The best part: these bloggers are from all over the U.S. (including yours truly), as well as a few from Europe. Our viewpoints can be very different from each other -- and yet in some ways, we're much alike.


Our newest giveaway is going strong. Get yerself a chance at a little Hanky Panky...absolutely free. (Ends next Sunday at midnight MST.) We're even holding a sale if you're like to buy a few extra copies for presents.

We're back to heat. The Brick let the chickens out this morning, to see how they'd do free-ranging. (Our back yard is completely enclosed with a 6-foot chainlink fence.) Surprise -- they made a beeline for the library-table-turned-chicken-run, which is temporarily disconnected from the yard and waiting for reenlistment. It's enclosed on three sides, and very airy and cool there. They alternated between snoozing in the run and under the chicken coop, or strolling back through the open gate for a drink and a snack. So much for freedom!

We spent tonight on Worship Team for church...and get to do it all over again tomorrow, since the other Worship Team leader is on vacation. Singing and playing is fun -- but it exhausts you.
    No matter. Our turn is coming, come the end of the month. I'd like to go camping, down by the Escalante Steps. The Brick said thoughtfully, "You know -- I'd like to go on a cruise." Well, start looking, Buddy...
     It's peaceful, these warm nights, to sit outside and watch the lights sparkling outside. We live on the top of a hill, overlooking the valley and beyond to Pike's Peak on the south, and the Rockies on the west. We can see up and down I-25, and out over a mixed bag of ranchland, housing developments (sigh) and businesses. (Home Depot is just down the hill, with a scrub oak grove in between.) Thankfully, we're up high enough to look out and over these things, rather than being smack in the middle of them.

Have a good restful weekend, hopefully with a fan and a frosty glass of iced tea nearby.






Would You Want This in YOUR Living Room?

Turns out that the person who bought Edvard Munch's Skrik ("The Scream") back in May for a record-setting $120 million was private-equity firm owner, Leon Black. Black runs Apollo Global Management. (If I were a shareholder, I'd be asking some pointed questions about now. Black is a billionaire. Did he use his money for this...or mine?)


"Scream" has the peculiar distinction of being a popular painting to steal. (Actually, there are at least four different versions available for theft -- robbers, take note.)
      I hope Black has good insurance...


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Got a Sinkin' Feeling? And A New Giveaway!

The Waldo Canyon fire has finally been contained! (Go here for the full report, plus photos.)
There are still plenty of people who could use encouragement on this -- go here to find out how you can help. 

Something new's developed around here -- a 100-foot deep hole suddenly developed along US24, one of the roads to Leadville! An underground railroad tunnel, abandoned in the 50s, has decided to make its presence re-known.
     Don't miss the slide show with this article: dozens of sinkholes are showing up around the world, including Duluth, Minnesota. (That one was directly affected by their recent flooding. The hole was big enough to grab a car -- and plenty large to swallow a dozen or so more.)

Weird...but fascinating.

* * * * * * *
Well, dears, it's time to announce a new giveaway! It's none other than my own


HANKY PANKY CRAZY QUILTS


It's just too blamed hot in summertime to work on large quilts. In that case, you'll find this how-to for making handkerchief quilt hangings the perfect size. With 7-10 hankies, some scraps, buttons and such, plus less than 15 hours, you can produce a lovely large pillow or wallhanging. (And that includes binding time!) And they're easy...I've seen everyone from young kids to older people, including some who had never sewn before, make beautiful Hanky Panky quilts. (More than a dozen different examples are in the book to inspire you, including bandanna and tatted lace HPs.)
     These Hanky Panky pieces make great presents. (Christmas is not that far off!) And this book can be yours -- FREE. All you have to do is the usual: leave a comment after this post on what you're currently doing, craft-wise. (Could be quilting, knitting, embroidering...or just freezing jam!) Leave a second post if you subscribe via e-mail, or a follower -- and that will earn you 3 additional entries. (The last giveaway winner won her book by doing just that!)

Hanky Panky is just about out of print. Brickworks owns the last few hundred copies...and we're not planning on reprinting it. This is your chance to grab one of the last remaining copies -- FREE!
(Giveaway ends Sunday, July 22, midnight MST. We'll announce the winner soon after.)
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Want a reasonably-priced item for your birthday and holiday gift list? Try a copy of Hanky Panky. Through the rest of July, we're offering a bulk special on these books:
      Buy one copy -- and it's $13.95, including free shipping. (Order here.)
      Two copies: $22.95, including shipping.
      Three copies: $29.85, including shipping. 



We'll even throw in a free antique postcard for every Hanky Panky book purchased! 


This special ends August 1, 2012. Just order, using Brickworks' regular shopping cart. We'll adjust the price on our end, and send you a confirmation e-mail. (We accept VISA/Mastercard, Paypal, or a check; we'll ship once your payment arrives.)

     You get great presents for as little as $9.95 each -- with no extra shipping costs!
And we get the satisfaction of knowing that everyone has a little Hanky Panky in their lives.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Very Funny Dog Ads

Maybe I should go get Charley and Abby to watch these, too...and hang in there until the last ad. It's the best one of all.


Woof!

5 Ways to Save Yourself...Without Even Thinking

     The chickies are expanding.
     I'd gotten 9 Black Australorps, because one was supposed to die. Well, it never got the message...we still have 9 black (with blue iridescent) feathered bundles of joy clucking around the yard. They rush around, chasing each other to the closest juicy bug -- and they're rapidly outgrowing the coop.
     Every so often, I trudge off to look for a larger chicken coop, via Craigslist. Monday, I stopped by "Sandy's" house in Denver. She told me she was moving -- but not because she wanted to. Her husband suddenly died about a month ago -- a trauma in itself. But only his name was on the house mortgage. 
     The bank did not consider her a co-owner, in spite of being married to him for 25 years, and living there for nearly as long. (I'm guessing Husband also did not leave a will, so that meant his possessions were in flux while probate was finished.)
     The only way the bank would let her keep the house was to make her buy it. Herself. And she didn't qualify for a mortgage. (Husband was the primary wage earner.)
     She had two kids, one of them disabled. Kids grieving for their dad, and the pets they had to give up. (She was, too.) 
     She had 45 days to move.
 
      I thanked God all the way home that the Brick insisted we have both our names on large purchases. No one can force me to leave our house, or give up our car.
     Will your partner die, or suddenly be incapacitated? Only God knows. But if that horror occurs, you would be able to stand it better if you did five easy things now.

If you're married, or especially if you're making a large purchase together (like a house), put it in both your names. If something happens to one of you, the other can still make payments. If you're not married, and you break up, both partners will gain something from the house's equity.


Get a policy that automatically pays off the house, if your partner dies. It's called mortgage protection insurance. This is in addition to standard homeowner's insurance; some policies will make payments if the owner is disabled, or loses their job. Doesn't cost much, considering -- but it's worth it.


Have more than one bank account -- one in both your names, one with just yours. If your partner dies, the dual name account will be frozen -- and your access to cash dries up. (Or, if you separate or divorce, they can clean it out without your permission.) Keep at least enough in the just-your account to pay bills for a few weeks. Separate accounts are handy for other reasons, too.


Keep at least a month's worth of food in the freezer or on the shelves. If your money must suddenly go to an emergency, you can still eat for a while. Comes in handy, too, if you have the flu for a week...or suddenly lose your job. (I include a few packages of dry milk and eggs, since the winter we had multiple blizzards around Christmas, and the trucks couldn't get through. Eggs and milk were an expensive luxury, if you could find them at all. Daughter #1 scored a dozen eggs hidden in one of the dairy aisles, and came out as triumphant as if she'd found the Hope Diamond.)

Make a will. Now. Quick. It will specify who cares for your children, and who gets what. If you can afford it, set up a trust, so possessions can pass seamlessly to your partner and other heirs. Include a living will, so your loved ones don't have to argue with the doctor about turning off machines. 

You won't regret it.

Our chickies look a great deal like this...only a bit more wild-eyed.



Tuesday, July 10, 2012

All Right, Farmers!

After 3 1/2 days of cooler temps and blessed rain, we're back to hot weather. The plants are practically leaping out of the ground, in their eagerness to grow. If I never thought green was a 'live' color, I sure do now -- so many vivid shades of it are stretching to the sky!

Yup, I'm a farm girl -- grew up on one in Michigan, and stayed one at heart. That's what makes this new video so appealing. It debuted on June 25 as a lark done by a 21-year-old Kansas State senior, and his two brothers. Last time I checked, it had more than FIVE MILLION HITS.

See what you think!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Monday Stuff on the Way to Other Stuff

 Yep, I've been operating at top form all weekend... if that means soaking your brains out in the hot springs, reading a couple of books, and going to The Amazing Spider-Man with the Brick and friends.
     We also got an amazing amount of rain -- with cooler temperatures following. There's a lot of sewing and restoration work on the to-do schedule this week; it will be so much easier when the fabric's not sticking to the skin!
     Don't miss the newest Spider-Man movie; it's by far the most interesting. In some ways, it felt like revisiting high school -- lots of high emotions and fun battles. Ok, the smooches are fun, too.
   I liked the Tobey Maguire movies...but somehow this one just seemed more -- real. (Well, about the most you can get about a guy who spends his time swinging by skyscrapers.)

And what did I find on the Internet this past week for you?

Enchiladas (and other meal ideas) in 30 minutes flat. Yum.

Happy Days cast members may finally get paid for having their images used on DVDs, gambling equipment and all sorts of cheeseball merchandise. The stars of this popular series felt they should be paid; CBS disagreed. A judge ruled that they'll be able to take their case to trial. At least one of their former colleagues, Ron Howard, says "I think they'll get what they deserve." (I'm just not sure how he means that -- positive or negative?) It won't come too soon for Erin Moran ('Joanie Cunningham'). She's been having financial problems for years.

Roger Federer beat Andy Murray for the Wimbledon title. Funny -- Murray was the first Brit since 1938 to make it to the finals, in a tennis event played annually in... England!

Financial Samurai feels sympathy for the unemployed more than ever...by paying attention to what they're really saying. (My description of this sounds goofy -- but really, this is a very moving post.)


Italian art historians say they've found 100 new Caravaggio sketches and paintings, in a castle in Milan. (Some experts knew these existed, but they were categorized as from the workshop of Peterzano and the students he influenced.) Are these really from Mr. C., a giant of the Renaissance? Or are they just scribblings from his contemporaries? The arguing continues...

Ernest Borgnine died. This American actor had an amazing range of talent, yet never was a pretty boy. Most probably know him best from the tv series McHale's Navy. (He actually spent a decade in the Navy during WWII!) He also did an outstanding job in many other shows and movies, including From Here to Eternity, Bad Day at Black Rock, The Dirty Dozen and Marty. (The latter won him an Oscar in 1955.)
My favorite Borgnine role is his turn as a Viking chief in (what else) The Vikings:





Deb Girotti, you've won the latest book giveaway! We'll be shipping your Kids Quilt Together book as soon as we get your snail mail address. Look for the next giveaway soon...and have a great week.

* * * * * *
     "After World War II we wanted no more part in war. I didn't even want to be a boy-scout. I went home and said that I was through with the Navy and so now, what do we do? So I went home to mother, and after a few weeks of patting on the back and, 'You did good,' and everything else, one day she said, 'Well?' like mothers do. Which meant, 'Alright, you gonna get a job or what? 
   "She said, `You always like getting in front of people and making a fool of yourself, why don't you give it a try?' I was sitting at the kitchen table and I saw this light. No kidding. It sounds crazy. And 10 years later, I had Grace Kelly handing me an Academy Award."    --Ernest Borgnine, from a British Film Institute interview

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Ahhh...Weekend

We've been gone -- went to a concert in Steamboat Springs up in the mountains, with a stop to soak our aching bones at the Hot Sulphur Springs resort. We spent quite a bit of time in the pool-with-a-waterfall; the lime in the rocks gives it a white cast that I keep thinking is leche de Madre.


For you Romancing the Stone fans, that's 'mother's milk:'

My brain is like banana...but at least it's a very mellow fruit. Meanwhile, there's only a few days before our latest book giveaway is up -- and only a few entries! Stop by there, and you've got a really good chance at earning yourself a free book.
    I'll be back, after everything firms up.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Waldo Canyon Fire Survivors - A Direct Way to Help

I know some of you have been following my posts about Colorado Springs' Waldo Canyon fire...and wondering if there was a way for you to help. Well, there is!

I just got an e-mail from Debby French of the Piecing Partner's Quilt Guild in the Springs -- the same guild I taught for, a few weeks back. Here's what Debby says...and if you can help, it would be wonderful. (Yes, Brickworks plans to contribute, too.)

What I'm emailing about is that our guild, Project Linus and possibly the night guild are starting a quilt drive for the victims of the Waldo Canyon Fire (actually one of my favorite places to hike).  We are working out the logistics for this but have two drop off points here in Colorado Springs.  Would you be willing to help us get the word out to fellow quilters?  We're asking for new, unused quilts and quilt tops in sizes from lap to twin.  They can be dropped off at either High Country Quilts, 4771 N. Academy, Colorado Springs, Co, 80918 and Ladybug Hill Quilts, 955 E. Fillmore, Colorado Springs, CO, 80907.  


If questions, e-mail Debby directly at tfrench55@msn.com.

Thank you!

Happy Fourth of July!

Where we remember our past...our present...our future.


Happy Independence Day.


Rain!

Is that what you call that watery stuff that's coming out of the sky and landing on the ground? We have it so infrequently that I'm not sure anymore!  :) 
    Anyhow, the whole Front Range is covered with lovely soft gray clouds, and the temp's gone down a good bit, as well. The Waldo Canyon fire down south is about 70% contained now, thank God. 
    You can almost hear a collective "ahhh" from the parched earth and green stuff.

Think I'll make a pound cake for tomorrow's festivities... and have Daughter #1 make me a batch of pesto while she's here, as well. Steaks on the barbecue, pesto with tossed pasta, watermelon, a salad, then pound cake with strawberries -- how does that sound? 

MAMA'S POUND CAKE (courtesy of Paula Deen and the Food Network -- link here)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, plus more for pan
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening (I'll use a bit less than this)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
With a mixer, cream butter and shortening together. Add sugar, a little at a time. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Stir dry ingredients together in a bowl and add to mixer alternately with milk, starting with the flour and ending with the flour. Mix in vanilla. Pour into a greased and floured tube pan and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
    Sprinkle cake with powdered sugar, slice and serve with strawberries. Makes from 6-12 servings, depending on your crowd.

NEVER-FAIL PESTO (from AllRecipes.com -- link's here.)


  • 3 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Directions

  1. Combine basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, and nuts in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Blend to a smooth paste. Add parsley if desired. (I usually don't.)       
  2.      Makes 2 cups. Stir into hot cooked pasta, or spread on garlic bread or multi-grain crackers.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff

 Life -- and the heat -- go on. Although we're hearing that the fires around Colorado are doing better, smoke and haze are thick in the air. Weather forecasters are saying that July will continue on like this pretty much all month. Oh goody.
    In the meantime,things found while wandering the 'Net:


The Supreme Court just struck down the Stolen Valor Act. Although the Brick pointed out that they didn't deep-six the act itself -- only its scope -- I find this extremely discouraging. Apparently, it is ok to lie about your past as much as you want, militarily speaking. Sure, you earned the Medal of Honor. Sure, you were in terrible circumstances in Afghanistan. (An update on this here, too.) Say what you like -- it's 'free speech.' Who cares if it didn't actually happen?
    Well, I do.

A guy who's been living in his van while he attends Duke University. (My former boss, TightFistedMiser, has been experimenting with this, too. Not that it would be thrilling in this weather.)

Did you buy Skechers, thinking they'd help shape up your patootie? Well, now you can get your money back. 

A wonderful array of buttons, from tatting to abolone shell, old and new.

The couple who spent hundreds of thousands on international sweepstakes scams, until their children stopped it. (And helped act as unwitting money launderers, to boot.)

Speaking of snakes, the Brazilian motorcyclist who filmed himself going 175 mph...with a passenger he didn't know about.


Free-range pumpkins and eggs...and a peaceful life. We have three squash plants growing in the back lawn, thanks to  our lawn guy/teenager Jake, who filled up the holes the dogs dug with shovelfuls from the compost pile. Since our lawn looks crappy anyways because of the hail, I plan to make a 'squash accent' out there for the season!

Starting July 1, it's gonna cost you $50 to throw up in a Chicago cab. (And I had such plans...)

Daz Dillinger makes it rain homeless people:

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Little Decisions That Made A Big Difference: Part 2

Take a minute, and enter our newest book giveaway, Kids Quilt Together. This is one of the best how-to quilting books out there for not only teaching children how to quilt, but accomplishing class and group quilts, start to finish. Three easy projects are included in the step-by-step photos and text. 
    You've got until next Sunday, July 8 (midnight MST) to leave a comment on that post. If you're 'following' the blog, or subscribing via e-mail, be sure to leave a separate comment about that -- it means THREE extra entries in the giveaway!

On to the series that began last week. (Part 1, 'Starting Out,' is here, if you want to start from the beginning.)

PART 2:  EDUCATION -- AND WORK

    Growing up in rural Michigan, living on a farm that was originally homesteaded by my ancestors, gave me a strong sense of history -- of picking up ear corn in a field that my great-great grandfather also walked in, of washing up in a kitchen my grandma cooked in. It was a wonderful gift -- and a reminder that other lives were part of mine, even if they had died generations before.
     My dad left school after eighth grade, to help his parents on their South Dakota farm. In spite of characterizing himself as a 'dumb Hollander,' he loved to read and study. He and the Mama were insistent that Little Brother and I were going on to college.
      But how? We had little money. (When talking to the Mama about writing this series, she confirmed what I'd remembered -- that money was very, very tight. She mentioned one week that we had no money for milk or bread -- so we had none that week. We drank water, instead. "We must have been ok," she said. "We're still here!") Generally, we had plenty to eat. Our expenses were covered. And thanks to being part of a large and extended family, we were given plenty of clothes to wear. (The Mama was also a crack tailor who sewed professionally for others, as well as us.)
    I knew I wanted to go on to college. The only way to do it was to go to work.
    As soon as I could, I began babysitting. I spent most of one summer babysitting two rambuctious little boys -- then by high school, I had a regular gig with three boys. (Their father was a salesman for Kraft, and their refrigerator always had unusual cheeses and other goodies -- stuff I'd never seen, and was incredibly 'exotic.') I did this regularly for some years.
     Little Brother and I also entered essay contests, sold wrapping paper , and helped sell sweet corn, raspberries and green beans in a roadside table under the maple trees out front. We also received 25-50 cents a week in allowance. We split the roadside money with the folks, but the rest was ours to keep.
     The folks had a rule:
           10% goes to God.
           50% is deposited in the bank account for college.
           40% is yours to do with, as you please. (I generally used mine for books, Christmas and birthday presents, and needlework kits, as well as fabric for outfits the Mama would sew.)

     When I was 15, and a freshman in high school, the owner of Sparta's hardware store asked if I'd be interested in working for him --  $1.50 an hour. I was making 75 cents an hour babysitting -- seemed like incredible riches!  Every day but Thursday after school, I would walk to the store, along with two friends who also worked in town. (They bagged groceries in the store down the street.) I'd work there until 6 p.m. or so, when Dad would come to pick me up.
     I worked all day Saturday and during the summer -- week after week, month after month, for four years. (After I graduated from high school, I continued to work now and then on college breaks, as well.) I also played in band, sang in choir, and even took a part in a play now and then.  (Oh yes, I also continued to take piano lessons once a week -- something I'd done since third grade, though I practiced less and less. Don't tell my current piano students...)
    The folks insisted that my grades stay up. They also attended every play, concert and Little Brother's sports events. (He played football all through middle and high school, was a wrestler, helped Dad farm and also worked at Uncle's farm supply, where Dad was now the manager of the Parts and Repair division.) Our aunt managed the cafeteria; both Little Brother and I both worked there to help pay for our lunches.
     It was a busy life, but I do not remember feeling put upon for it. At night, if I wasn't headed somewhere, I cross-stitched or did crewel embroidery, knit, crocheted and read many books. (Except for math, school lessons were quickly done. Sometimes I listened to the Boston Pops -- especially on Sunday afternoons. And late at night, I listened to old-time radio shows, leading to a fondness for The Shadow, Jack Benny and mysteries.) I went to Little Brother's games...and gained a love for amateur football that endures today. A crush on a teacher's son led to being exposed to Shakespeare's works. (He loved the Bard, and eventually, so did I. Although I did not know it then -- so did the Brick!)
     And my savings account grew.
     By the time I graduated from high school, I'd saved $2000 -- an amount that seems incredible now, considering how little I was making -- but is a testimony to what can gradually build up, dollar by dollar, if you added to it regularly. With scholarships, a little help from the folks, and a series of jobs ranging from working in the cafeteria, secretarial work, house cleaning and a pick-your-own apple orchard (often more than one at a time), it was enough to get me through college.
     Besides The Rule, my life was changed by other 'small' decisions:


*A love of all things needlework -- something I shared with my grandma and mother. I did it for pleasure, but it was also the source of most of the Christmas and birthday presents. (One extravagant Christmas, the Mama was also given a TEN-DOLLAR wax angels candle. It is hard to present now how much money that was to me back then. P.S. She still has it.) 
      Little did I know that this hobby would eventually lead to a career teaching and writing about it!


*The willingness to work at any kind of job, as long as it was honest and paid. And I'd better do a good job at it, as well -- it was my reputation on the line. The folks had always insisted on the importance of a good name, but it had become even more important when I became a Christian at age 15. I wanted to honor the King, as well as my family.


*The importance of being able to do several things well -- at least three. I took typing class in high school; not only did the teacher smell delicious (English Leather cologne!), but I could type my own papers. (And get paid to type others.) Increasing my speed meant the chance to not only write more quickly, but do secretarial work. (Something that helped me gain money for my own schooling, and help put the Brick through college later on)
    I also knew how to cater, thanks to working during the Mama's gigs. I could run a cash register and work in retail, thanks to the hardware store. (And I knew nails, screws and especially plumbing fittings, very well. Try watching a farmer blush when he asks for a 'female end!')


*Having little money wasn't easy -- but it also wouldn't necessarily be permanent. The Mama was the youngest of eight, and nearly all of those siblings had between 5-8 kids themselves. One uncle owned the farm supply my dad and brother worked at; another uncle had a construction and swimming pool business. I'd grown up as one of the youngest of 60-plus bright, lively and opinionated cousins -- many of them much better off, seemingly, than my family. (Or so I thought, at the time. I wonder now how many of those relatives had paid off their homes or set money aside, like the folks had.)
     Maybe I had to work through high school and college. Maybe I didn't have funds for many new clothes and recitals, going out to eat, plays or games. (Well, except for dates.) It didn't matter. I knew how to be frugal. I was paying my bills, eating, and still had time to study. (I didn't sleep much back then.) 

A whole new world beckoned.

coming up:

PART 3:  TRYING STUFF, GRAD SCHOOL -- AND MARRIAGE




Grandma, I'm Thinking Of You...

Shades of  my tiny five-foot grandma. I saw her, standing at the back door, take on her grown sons -- my uncles -- and yell, "W...