Thursday, December 31, 2015

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Santa Gets A Break...

He headed for Australia, to hang out on the beach!







Photo by permission of friend Constance Mullans, who has been spending her holidays in Australia, on break from teaching in Vietnam. 
       Now you know where Santa goes for fun, after his trip around the world...

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

What Do You Know About Christmas Movies?

Find out more here...





(Thank you, Mental Floss.)

Monday (Ok, Tuesday) Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Rest

It is Tuesday, isn't it...

I spent a few hours this morning with friends over coffee. That's been the pattern this past week: work some, rest some. It's been lovely. The only blight in this serene week: the Brick decided to help out and upgraded our computers to Windows 10. A big batch of files promptly stopped working. I had to dicker and tinker a lonnnnggg time to figure things out. 
    Aren't upgrades supposed to HELP? Make things BETTER? In the case of Windows 10...HA.

The last words of 25 celebrities. And some of them are more than a little strange...

Do you enjoy coloring books? The American Quilter's Society staff have designed a 12-page coloring book for you...ready to fill in. (Or print for your favorite quilter.)

The aftermath of the Seven Fish Dishes. A report from yours truly on of our favorite holiday traditions.

The start of a new frugal food series:  Bare Bones with Style. Also from yours truly, via our Holiday Goodies blog.

An appetizer wreath -- nice to look at, delicious to eat. (From Betty Crocker)




Donna Freedman feels blue. (Who can blame her, this time of year...)

A porcelain plaque auction at Skinner's...beautiful stuff.

A sheet of music scored by Beethoven is found hanging in a hallway in Connecticut...and scores more than $120,000 in a recent auction. Yow.

A Viking outpost on Baffin Island? Evidence is piling up for only the second Viking settlement found in the Americas. (So far, at least.)

Ten essential items for your food storage. You do have some food in storage, don't you? (From Living Life in Rural Iowa)

And something I thought you'd get a kick out of -- this year's Christmas card from MUFON, a flying saucer enthusiast/study group. Hey, aliens celebrate, too!




Have a restful week.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Goals for 2016 (Part III)

 I've been thinking about events of this year, as well as lessons learned from them

So what could I do -- and do better -- in 2016?



Lose some weight. About 20 or so pounds have come off...but I need to lose more.

Finish some writing commitments. I have several...nearly all books I want to write. Mostly quilting and crafts -- but a novel, too.

Find another steady writing job (or two). My work for Midlife Finance has been done for some months now. I've been accepted for a new syndicate, so want to explore that. But I'd like a second regular gig, too. Maybe even a third.

Start forgiving myself for slowing down. I just do not have the stamina to go nights without sleep that I used to. Or schlep through multiple airports, dragging heavy suitcases. (Direct flights -- the only way to go.) Or push myself through flu or exhaustion. I have to face this: being 57 does creep up on you a bit. (I'm guessing losing more weight will help, though.)


Publish my uncle's book. He wrote a memoir of his time in WWII...and I want to see it into print.

Have a BIG garden this coming year. Hopefully the weather cooperates...

Make a couple of quilts. Three, to be exact. Plus -- I need to stitch up a sampler design for a class at the John C. Campbell Folk School. I'll be teaching a "Quilting from A-Z" class there in October. (More on this soon.)
     What -- stitch a quilt for FUN? For people I care about? It's a new concept for someone like me, who normally just makes quilts for 'work.'

Eugenia's Barn Door block -- from last year at John C. Campbell

Learn Spanish (better). The Brick and I have plans to spend a month in language school before the year's out. (Or soon after.) Mexico? Ecuador? Panama? One possibility may have us certifying for scuba diving at the same time -- a real push of the envelope. We both enjoy snorkeling...

Clear away and get rid of a lot of STUFF.  We plan to put the house up on the market in the spring, after we do some renovating. Meanwhile, I am trying to whittle some 2000-plus books down to a manageable size. A lot of these will be donated to our local library, plus the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum's study center.
     Plus use up embellishments, fabrics and other things I've collected for the business over the years. No worries on the latter -- I've got plenty of teaching gigs that will make good use of those items.

Keep up with this blog. And others. I've been writing "A Brick Looks At Life" since Dec. 2008 -- where did the time go? And I have some other blogs, including one on celebration foods, one on Christmas dishes...and a couple on moneysaving offers. I'm getting ready to start a new one, as well, for Daughter #2's Phenomenal Gems site on Etsy.


Life goes on -- thankfully. What's going to happen next? No idea -- but I'm looking forward to finding out. 
    From all of us here at Brickworks, including staff, plus Charley, Abby and the chickens...

                                                                Happy 2016 to you!



Personally, we think she should pay more attention to US in 2016...









Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry Christmas!

And it came to pass, that the Virgin delivered a Child...


Christ the Lord, our Savior. 

May your Christmastime be restful and illuminating. 




Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Mew! (Said Indignantly)


One of the funniest cat commercials I've ever seen! (Okay, maybe the cats don't join me in this hilarity...)



And if you liked that, here's more:


Getting Ready for the Seven Fish Dishes

Most people present-shop the last few days before Christmas.

Trim a tree.

Go caroling.

Us... we deal in fish, dear friends. Lots of fish -- seven different versions of fish and other seafood! 

The Feast of the Seven Fish Dishes is an old Italian custom, meant to honor the Seven Sacraments (birth, baptism, etc. down through last rites), and the birth of the Christ Child. Since we serve Him too, it started in our house as a reminder of Jesus' birth. (No, we're not Italian -- we just like to celebrate with really good food.)

I resemble that remark!


It happens right after the last Christmas Eve service. Just like this year, the Brick and I invariably are pegged to sing, play piano/keyboard or both during our church service(s). Since I'll be busy that day, I try to make some of the dishes ahead -- and others are just easy, to begin with. We have a few old favorites over and over -- Angels on Horseback (oysters wrapped in bacon), a lots-of-shrimp dish (this year, it's Scampi) and as a finale, a Baked Salmon Something.  (This year's version will be Wasabi Salsa Verde, accompanied by a Filipino-style green sauce spiked with cilantro.)

Here's the menu, if you're curious -- it's over at my sister site, Christmas Goodies. So far this year, Caviar with Blini and North Carolina-Style Crab Cakes are up -- and the rest will be coming, day by day, until the big event. Stop by every day for a different recipe!


Sunday, December 20, 2015

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Planning

Only one holiday decoration is up at the Brick house -- a red and green wreath by the front door. No tree, no garlands, no nothing.
    And I feel much better.

We've been flooding the house with Christmas music nonstop, thanks to Pandora. (Weird tip: did you know that if you put in 'Handel's Messiah' on Pandora, they'll give you a little classic holiday stuff -- plus Mozart's Funeral Requiem? I am still hard-put to understand how funeral music celebrates Christmas.) 
    A steady flow of mostly-goofy Christmas movies has been making its way onto the tv screen. The Brick and I have watched and/or listened to every one, popcorn at hand. 

Tomorrow, we'll put up the tree. (The presents are mostly wrapped -- the first time we can say this in years.) The mantelpiece will get its Nativity set. Which reminds me...
      Daughter #2 just got back from a visit to The Mama. "It's so strange," The Mama said. "My Nativity set is out, but Adie [her young great-grandchild] moved all the figures around. I don't understand -- she's never touched them before!"

     "Was Angel around when you put the set out," I asked. 
    "Oh...are you saying that Angel did it?" sez she.

Well, let's put it this way -- for years now, I start with the Nativity figures in their proper places. And if the girlies visit, next thing I know... dinosaurs are peeking into the manger, shepherds are doing handstands, and lions may be roaring at the wise men. You never know WHAT they'll be doing. 
     The seven fish dishes are in active planning for our Christmas Eve dinner. Stay tuned for more news, plus recipes.

UPDATE:  I did...and they did.




Cream of mushroom soup you can make -- it's easy, and for Dear Readers who struggle with this: gluten-free. Freezes easily, too. (Thanks, Simply Scratch.)

Easy Christmas candies...from 'Cuban lunch' to Peppermint Meltaways. (From Jill's Little Bit - of Everything)

Steve Harvey may have goofed up -- but he's not the only one. Other live-action fails have happened before. So yes, he should have named the RIGHT Miss Universe. But have you ever made an embarrassing mistake in public?  (Poor guy.)

Looking for a dutch oven for no more than $650 -- pesos, that is! This tale of a shopping trip gone nuts sounds like our experience at the Walmart in Puerto Vallarta...it's almost as good as being back there for a few days. (From Life By Design)

A fascinating look at wrappers -- women's lounging robes, that is. (From Barbara Brackman's Material Culture)

Tent city encampments -- could this be a partial answer to the homeless problem?

Seven reasons the IRS could be interested in auditing you.  (From Nerd Wallet)

Three new blogs you should take a look at --
    Remake, Remodel, Recycle   (remodeling thrift shop attire to make it more stylish)

    Much More With Less (frugal living)

    More Of What Matters (more frugal living, with some country stuff thrown in)

A 93-pound petoskey stone is confiscated from a Michigan man. (Check the link to see the surprising reason why.) Bad Michigan man -- bad!  (Michigan just celebrated its 176th birthday, by the way...Happy Birthday to my native state.)

Valuable stuff that just happened to be found inside houses...and was almost discarded as junk. Including a Superman #1 comic found inside a wall. (It was being used as insulation.)

Look what Jenny McCarthy is carrying -- a strip-pieced look leather 'patchwork' purse!

$10 million in diamonds -- accidentally thrown away in the trash. 

Where the Heck is Matt? Remember this crazy dancer? Well, his newest campaign is fully funded, and he'll be on the road soon....hopefully, to your neck of the woods.




Have a very Merry Christmas week.






Bizarro Claus

Dan Piraro (from Bizarro) is in the holiday mood...






And just in case you're a Bigfoot fan, too:



(and because I can't resist, Mr. S. apparently makes an appearance on Google Maps, too)



Saturday, December 19, 2015

Lessons Learned From 2015 (Part II)

By now, you may have trudged through the post on my 'downer' year. It wasn't pretty.

"Mustn't grumble," I remind myself. After all, my grandma had a much more difficult life than I ever did. Not to mention a zillion others in the world, past and present. Future too, no doubt.


So what have I learned from 2015?






*If you think your life's crap -- someone else always has it worse. 

*Often, when you just can't stand it anymore -- soon after is when things start to get better. There is an amazing verse in the Bible that makes it clear: God will not give you more than you can bear -- with His help. (It's true. Really.)

*You may be learning more from hard times than you think. In fact, if you pay attention, you may well come out from the shadows with several helpful lessons.

*Doing the right thing may have short-term consequences. But in the long run, it's still your best course of action.

*STUFF is not that important. Other things are far more precious. (This short flick is a little corny, but it makes that point well.)



*You can live on less. I know this, from experience. With few exceptions, you can cut costs somewhere. Granted, you're going to have to hold off, or cut back: buying clothes, going out to eat and cable tv come to mind. But you can save on more than you think. Because of that:

*Become particular on what you DO spend your money on. Buy classic clothing that's well-made, and will stand the wearing, instead of high-fashion junk that fades and rips in just a season. Instead of mediocre food, save your cash and go to a nicer restaurant -- just not as often. Wait to buy, until you find the very best at the price you can afford. Then:

*Regularly set aside some of that saved money for emergencies. Even if it's a few bucks each month, it adds up -- and you will need the money, eventually. (We had to come up with $5000 on very short notice. Could you do it?)

*Patience really is a virtue. And it's very, very difficult to do. But it helps if you can:

*Keep your mouth shut. For one thing, you appear wiser than you are. For another, people will get tired of attacking you, when you're not attacking back. After a parting shot for good measure, they tend to get bored and wander off...and leave you alone.

*Follow the Golden Rule:
never treat anyone else the same way you were. Make sure you know all sides of the situation before you form an opinion and express it. And if you see injustice, speak up -- right away.

*Treasure your friends and family. They can help get you through the roughest of times. A faithful partner or loyal friend is worth their weight in diamonds. Finally:

*Trust in the Maker of the Universe. It amazes me that God would care about us when He's got far better things to do -- but He does. Far too many 'coincidences' happened for us to think He wasn't aware of our situation: unexpected work, quiet champions and help, incredible sale prices on items we badly needed, people and authors who offered comfort and reassurance just when we were most discouraged. Prayer was a huge part of this. Trusting God was another.



So what's in store for us this coming year? And what do we have for goals?

Stay tuned for Part III.


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Looking Back On 2015 (Part I)

     The Brick and I have been taking it a bit easy -- partly because we just had a big blizzard, partly because we're still in vacation mode (sort of)...and partly because we narrowly escaped heading into the Land of the Flu. I'm putting piles away and getting chores done. (Sort of.) He's doing...well, something. But it's been quiet around here. 

Which leads me to thinking. Why not start planning goals now, instead of waiting until January? But a review first: 

     The year 2014 seemed to attack the people we loved. The Mama's heart surgery, for example -- she is still not completely recovered. (Here, too.) Watching family members and friends struggle with various issues, while I was forced to spend 2 1/2 months away from home, taking care of the Mama between teaching gigs. Watching the Brick do his best to help those family and friends, while I was helpless to do much, several states away.




     In 2015, the Powers That Be went straight for the jugular: US.

I have never had a time in my life when I was so consistently belittled, questioned, berated and attacked. Sadly, going after me was often done for other reasons on personal agendas. If I had returned the favor, it would not only have been unprofessional, but unethical.
     If I tried to defend myself, then I was pegged as self-serving, evil, weak and/or stupid...or just ignored altogether. When I refused to join the fray anymore, I was silent because I 'knew' I was guilty. (Or so I was told. Scared, yes. Knowing I was innocent, yes. Guilty, no.)

     It took months to get through this period. It involved determination, patience, discipline, a great deal of sacrifice, personally and financially -- and the most important thing: prayer. Lots of it. (Psalm 7 has been a special source of comfort ever since.)
     A few people took a risk and spoke up on my behalf, knowing that they would probably be attacked for doing so. (I am forever grateful to you, friends...you know who you are.) Friends here at home consistently encouraged and comforted, particularly when it got nasty. (And it did.) They continued to believe in me, no matter what the accusations said. Our daughters, whose opinions I hold especially dear, never hesitated to support me.

     The worst of this period is over -- thanks to God's grace. And it's generally okay now. But I emerged with a new set of scar tissue. A growing cynicism. (Which I'm trying to rein back.) Plus an increasing awareness that people who say they're your friends...well, they may be. And they may not. On the other hand, there are others you think could care less...and come to your aid. Go figure.

While I was enduring this, the Brick was going through increasingly difficult times of his own. The work atmosphere at his office grew worse and worse, until finally he began talking seriously about retiring. Thankfully, he was eligible, even though he had talked about holding off for another year or two, and building up his pension.
    But retiring would mean going back to a budget considerably under his current paycheck. We'd planned that my work would augment his...but my income had been practically nonexistent for some time, thanks to the year's struggles.

    Could we do it?

    Once again, thanks to God's grace, we have. I'm still not sure how. Cutting back on our expenses has helped. (We did it before, we'll do it again.) Getting more work (for me) and occasional work (for the Brick) has helped, too. But we should be in a much more difficult position than we are. All bills are paid...with a surplus. Again, due to God's grace, and the work and encouragers He sent our way, we are hanging in there.
     The Brick has his own scar tissue. And he's had to make sacrifices, too, some for my sake, and some for his own. But he has had a chance to rest, which he desperately needed. He's been able to cross off household tasks he's wanted to do for years. He's been able to think.
     Best of all, we are finally able to make plans for the future...places we've wanted to visit, work opportunities he's wanted to try. Most probably, this will mean a move by the end of 2016. But then again, we'd planned to do this in a year or so, anyways.

     So what did I learn from this year's experience?

That's the subject of Part II...



When life gives you lemons, make...

Catcalls

You know how to whistle...just put your lips together and blow.







(Thanks to FunnyAnimalz)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Twenty (Er, 35) Questions

    Mama Pea, who I discovered via my Brit friends, is asking fellow bloggers for answers to these questions -- odd ones, some of them, but sure, fine.


1)  Do you like blue cheese?
      Are you nuts? That stuff tastes spoiled. (Though my mom loves it)

2)  Have you ever smoked?
      One puff on a cigarette butt I picked up as a kid. It was so nasty, I never tried it again. (The Brick smoked for a while during the Navy -- both daughters have. One still does, but wants to quit.)

3)  Do you own a gun?  
      Yes.

4)  What flavor of Kool Aid is your favorite?
      Red punch -- but I rarely have any.

5)  Do you get nervous before dental appointments?
      Yes, absolutely -- but we have a kind dentist who is also a long-time friend.

6)  What do you think of hot dogs?
      I love them: if deli or all-beef, or served Chicago style, even better.

7)  What's your favorite Christmas movie?
      Scrooge. Or Trading Places. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation comes up there, too.

8)  What do you prefer to drink in the morning?
      The Brick's strong, hot coffee -- with plenty of milk.

9)  Can you do push-ups?
      Maybe a couple, but I look like a doofus.

10)  What's your favorite piece of jewelry?
        Piece-s. My gold wedding ring -- a beautiful blue larimar necklace -- and several cuff bracelets. 

11)  What's your favorite hobby?
        Quilting.  Cooking. Music. Mysteries and unusual stories.

12)  Do you have A.D.D.?
        I doubt it -- too absent-minded.

13)  Do you wear glasses or contacts?
        Yes, since third grade. I thought EVERYONE saw things blurry, before that.

14)  What's your middle name?
        Joan -- after a much-loved cousin a year older.

15)  What are your thoughts at this moment?
        It's evening -- where's all that work I was going to get done today?

16)  Name 3 drinks you regularly consume.
        Coffee, strong tea... and Kahlua in milk.

17)  What is a current worry of yours?
        How I'm going to finish up the year-end stuff -- and still get ready for Christmas festivities.

18)  What do you currently hate?
        I don't think I 'hate' anything right now. 

19)  Where is your favorite place to be?
        By the fireplace -- when the Brick gets the woodstove insert installed.

20)  What do you plan on doing on New Year's Eve this year?
        Staying home with my darling Brick and the dogs, eating pizza and watching cowboy movies. (Daughters #1 and #2 usually work...or go to parties. So New Year's Day is quiet for us, too.)

21)  To where would you like to travel?
        Ecuador! Or Austria, with stops in Paris and Albania, on the way. (Maybe Ireland, too.)

22)  Name three people you think will do this questionnaire on their
        blog.
        Not a clue.

23)  Do you own slippers?
        I do -- but I don't wear them much. Usually go barefoot.

24)  What color shirt are you wearing?
        Pale blue robe. (Hey, it's blizzarding. We slept in.)

25)  Do you like sleeping on satin sheets?
        Tried once -- but you slide out of the bed. I'm not a fan.

26)  Can you whistle?
        Yes, but not impressively.

27)  What is your favorite color?
        Cobalt blue. But I never wear it -- only decorate with it.

28)  What songs do you sing in the shower?
        Whatever I wake up thinking about. Currently, it's been Christmas carols, or praise & worship songs. (Or whatever the Brick is mewing at the moment -- he has a habit of doing this for the songs on HIS mind.) 

29)  Would you be a pirate?
        Why not -- provided I wouldn't get stuck in the galley, doing all the cooking.

30)  What's in your pocket right now?
        A toothpick.

31)  What's the last thing that made you laugh?
       That silly Brick, mewing. (See question #28.)

32)  What vehicle do you drive?
        A gray 2011 Outback. Or our workhorse, a tan 2000 Jeep Cherokee. (We have a motorcycle too, but it needs repairs.)

33)  What's the worst injury you've ever had?
        A torn-up hand, from a climbing accident in college. (I was belaying a rope for a student who fell...if I let go, he would have gone down faster. So I held on, and let the rope abrade away my hand.) I needed skin grafts to cover the damage, but they were so successful that I grow hairs on the INSIDE of my hand, as well as on the outside! (Think about it.) Also scars from the rope will be forever around my waist. No worries -- in spite of a very long fall, the student's injuries were minimal: a cracked pelvis. He recovered quickly, thank God. 

34)  Do you love where you live?
        I love parts of where I live (Colorado, south of Denver). There are just Too Many People here now, though. 

35)  Would you change your first name if you could?
        Yes...but to what? 

    My own question: Mama, since you're from Minnesota, why are you using a central British blog to post? Hmmm...

Now it's your turn to answer these, if you're interested. (Use the comments area -- or use my post as a link for your blog. Or Facebook page.)





Bits and Pieces On A Cold Winter's Day

    We're having another blizzard around here... more than 8 inches of the white stuff, and still falling. Fortunately, the power's still on, and we don't have to go anywhere today. That's good, since I'm pretty sure our road hasn't been plowed. (It finally happened about 5 p.m.) 
    It got so bad, one of CDOT's snowplows ended upside-down in the river off the road up Boulder Canyon. (Thanks, Boulder's Daily Camera, for mentioning it.)



So here are some bits and pieces I randomly wandered across, including updates on stories I've mentioned before. Enjoy...


Want to make an impression at that holiday party? How about a tie that glows...briefly? 



It's easy to make, activates with a UV flashlight, and the effect is only temporary. Which will lead people to wonder, 'Did I really see that?' (No reason why it wouldn't work on party gowns, too.)

Remember the Nazi treasure train that's supposed to be underground somewhere in Poland? Well, scientists have found...nothing. "The tunnel may be there," said Professor Madaj, one of the investigators. "But the train is not."  Really -- go figure.

Elf Yourself is back! I couldn't get it to work completely -- only Daughter's bf Keith's face would transfer to an elf. So the girlies get a 'bye' this year. (Which I'm sure they'll be pleased about.) You should try it though -- click here.

Teresa Giudice is out of the slammer in eight days. Surely I can't be the only one who follows the adventures of this flashy reality star and her husband...who were never quite the brilliant successes they wanted us to think they were. She's been in jail for fraud this year; husband Joe will take her place after Christmas. (Their poor kids...I hope they don't think this is normal behavior. Sadly, they probably do.) 

The Lady of Guadalupe festival has been happening in Mexico. As the story goes, a "beautiful maiden" appeared to a Mexican peasant named Juan Diego in 1531 on the Hill of Tepeyac (eventually a suburb of Mexico City). She identified herself as the Virgin Mary, and spoke to him in his native Nahuatll (Aztec) language. She asked to have a church built at the site, in her honor.
    The Powers That Be didn't believe this simple peasant's story, and asked for proof. During a later sighting, Mary told Juan to pick the Castilian roses on the hilltop (obviously out of season), put them in his cloak, and take them to the archbishop. When he opened the cloak, the Virgin's image was printed on the inside. (See below.)

The image of the Lady, from Juan Diego's original tilma -- Wikipedia




Why was this especially important to Mexicans? Because this image of the Virgin is directly connected with Mexican/Indian culture -- and one of the very few that depicts her with darker skin. She is celebrated with long Catholic festivals in early December. We got to experience the Puerto Vallarta version, complete with flowers, parades and kids in peasant costumes, doing a special group dance before they trudged up to the hill to the waiting cathedral. (Everyone, us clueless Americans excepted, sang along with the music playing.) The bellringers were banging away like crazy, and priests at the entrance sprinkled everyone with incense from a swinging brass censor as they went in.

    Another group of dancers wore elaborate Aztec-inspired headdresses. Same thing -- the group dance, then up to the cathedral. This went on for hours the day we watched -- and we missed the height of the festival, which was last Saturday, Dec. 12.

    Photos and videos will come when the Brick downloads them. Meanwhile, here's something from Youtube -- from the same PV street we were watching on:




And Puerto Vallarta's cathedral (yes, named for her). Hear the bells banging away? This was taken from the top of the cathedral steps, looking down. (We were at the bottom of the street, in the Gawking Corner.) Notice the man in the cream poncho, sprinkling people with incense.



Amazing -- and lots of fun.


Finally, from the Department of 'It Couldn't Happen,' comes this true story:

      Earlier this year, Daughter #2 bought a collection of books. She wanted one of the books especially, but it was rare and higher-priced by itself. Instead, she bought the group -- not only was it cheaper, but she figured she could sell off the other books to recoup her expense.
     The box arrived. She was thumbing through 'her' book and noticed a newspaper clipping -- cool, someone else shared her interest in this subject! Then she noticed another piece of paper:
      A twenty-dollar bill.
     And another.
     And so on.

All told, there were six twenties in the book: $120 cash! Did the books come from an estate? An eccentric collector? Who knows.
     But it more than paid for what she spent on the collection. And no, there wasn't any more money in the others. (She checked.) Ironically, the cash was in the one volume she really wanted.
     I've never found money in books I've purchased -- but I did find a c.1900 William McKinley campaign ribbon, obviously used as a bookmark, in one. Which goes to show you:

You never know what you're going to find (and learn) in books.




   

Monday, December 14, 2015

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Cold, Snow...and Christmas

Boy, it's the season, all right.

   Getting used to the cold again, after our jaunt to Puerto Vallarta, has had some interesting twists. For one, I can't seem to get my feet warm. (The Brick keeps yelling, 'Put on socks!') For another, I  came home with an unexpected souvenir: a huge scrape on one leg, thanks to an unexpected header off the sidewalk onto a cobblestoned street. (Puerto is notorious for sidewalks with multiple step-up-step-down sections, and higher than usual curbs.) The raw skin is finally scabbing over, but it catches on heavy clothing...and then itches and burns. If I wear warm clothes, they stick to my leg. (And the scab opens up again.) If I don't, I freeze. Go figure. 
     We plan to finish up some work this week, and get a bunch of items ready to donate. I also mixed up a batch of British Christmas cake, which turned out beautifully. Stay tuned this week for more holiday-related posts, as well as a full report on Puerto Vallarta. Which was wonderful, by the way. 

Socks that generate electricity when you walk in them? And their batteries are powered with urea...yep, you got that right -- pee.

Thirty free-but-thoughtful Christmas gift ideas.  Good suggestions -- but the title is misleading. You WILL have to spend money to do some of these. (From Family Balance Sheet)

A bossy woman who really doesn't understand the spirit of the season. Ever run into someone like this? (From Money Beagle)

Storage secrets of a really, really tiny apartment. (From Apartment Therapy) Also from them:

Readers' tips for living on next to nothing.  

SEVENTEEN BILLION in treasure...found on a shipwreck! 
Not much info is available yet; there's still a lot of secretiveness, partly because of some legal challenges. But it's off the Columbian coast..

15 interesting facts about Gilligan's Island.  Among the revelations: Ginger thought SHE should be the big star on the show -- and ignored everyone else. So they ignored her, in turn. (I always wondered why she seemed a little 'separate' from the others.) And my favorite -- the millionaire's wife really WAS a millionaire! (She did the show's pilot because she got a free trip to Hawaii out of it...and didn't believe anyone would be interested in a show that silly, anyways.)



Seven weird locked-out-of-the-house stories. Including one with no pants...

A sad interview with Tiger Woods. He's learned his lesson...sort of.

Do YOU have missing money? Andy of Tight Fisted Miser (still one of my favorite blogs to wander around) found money for his girlfriend and mom. I snorted at that, but a quick check turned up money due to both our nephew and Daughter #1. Go take a look...


and have a great week.





Speaking Out

In our case, it was the girlies calling each other 'Cow.' Just this week, I was informed that if I hadn't made such a fuss...