Saturday, December 30, 2017

Welcome, 2018!

It still seems amazing, to be this far into the 21st century.

But here we are.

And who knows what wonderful things will happen this new year! 




May you have a peaceful and rewarding 2018.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Frugal Hits & Misses: December Report

     This month went far more quickly than I thought it would, thanks in large part to trudging off to work at Tuesday Morning a few days a week. For some reason, we have been bone-exhausted much of the month. We spent time resting and watching a variety of programs and games, including college and pro football. Not that it helped our teams much -- CU, Michigan and the Broncos are all doing badly. (Sigh.)
     We saw some Christmas movies (mostly when the Brick was too pooped to protest), but especially episodes from JAG and some vintage cowboy shows remembered from kidhood: Laramie, Laredo, the Virginian and Wagon Train. In spite of five or even six decades time, many of these episodes have held up very well.



    
 That rest helped my bum knee keep going at work, as well as through long periods standing during Worship Team and choir at church. Holiday music is too great a pleasure to be missed, even if an appendage isn't cooperating.
     On the docket for January: eating as much out of the freezer and pantry as possible. Work on the new book about Colorado haunted history, including a few trips for photos and research. 
     And of course:






FRUGAL HITS

*Purchased from Amazon: a 12-book set of Boxcar Children books, plus a portable bookcase -- for pennies less than $12! Free shipping and a $5 credit sweetened the deal.
     I bought several other books and movies on sale and at discount, including a treasure-hunting memoir I hope will inspire us for future trips -- and a few Bigfoot experience books. (I can't help it.) 

*Returned a $10 rosemary 'tree' which turned brown at lightspeed. Sprouts let me exchange it for another, which is doing much better.

*Free items from King Soopers (Krogers, if you're on the East Coast), and occasionally Safeway.  You must log in on Fridays to get the King Soopers goodies; both chains have Friday, Saturday and Friday-Sunday specials that also need logging in for coupons. Do it on Friday, and you'll see what's available all weekend. One of the specials: 99-cent/lb pork loin! That was Christmas dinner, and will be on the menu for New Years Eve dinner, as well.

*Only minimal groceries. Mostly milk. I also bought meat and a few extras (if on sale), and picked up the latest freebie. Didn't neglect the markdown racks, either. The best purchase: six DiGiorno pizzas for the price of two -- I had 2 buy-two-get-one-free specials, plus coupons for two free pizzas.
     Other food buys included ham for 89 cents/lb and green beans for 77 cents/lb, plus hothouse cucumbers, 2/$1. We also ate several packages of the Palisade peaches I'd frozen back in September.
   
*Irish Christmas concert tickets, with the Gettys -- $20 each, thanks to our friend Ivan. ($60/each value) I particularly enjoyed the after-concert session in the entryway...complete with two young girls who suddenly decided to add a little Irish dancing to the mix!
     The concert was interesting... the after-concert jam was magical.





*Bought a few more $1/$2 videos (and books) from the library used book room, and the thrift shop. Sold seven videos on Amazon, including one for $33! That gives me extra cash for future speculating, as well as ideas on what sells well. (Hint: think documentaries.)

*Working at Tuesday Morning brought in extra cash. I have a few days left at work, but the total is almost exactly what I estimated I'd earn. It's a welcome boost for our stripped-out savings fund.
      I was also able to buy foodstuffs (tea, spices, cookies, candy, even caviar), Christmas gifts and other goodies at 20-40% discount. Once the after-Christmas sale really kicks in, I plan to save even more.

*We didn't pay off the credit card. Horrible, right? Well, it still bothers me some...but as the Brick pointed out:
     -it's interest-free until July 2018
     -we're still making enough payments on it to easily clear the balance by then
     -we're setting aside money in savings to cover the remainder
     -we're earning cashback on purchases we do make (this is essential)

and best of all: we met the minimum charges required to earn a $500 bonus next month!
     If the credit card company thinks we're going to get caught owing big bucks in July -- they've got another think coming.

*Purchased $250 in Red Robin giftcards -- paid $200, and earned some free gift bucks, as well, for use in Jan-Feb. The giftcards went to Brickworks employees and clients, as a little thank you for their help and services in 2017.

*Got a lot of baked goods from friends and the thrift shop. These fed us, but more importantly, helped augment the chickens' feed. Not that they're grateful they're still alive, the stinkers...we get an egg or two almost every day. And one of the little dinosaurs eats a second egg almost every day. Hopefully, the troublemaker will be one of the first chickens we butcher.


Darn tootin', Missy!

*Cleaned out the refrigerator, in preparation for the Seven Fish Dishes. Gave stale items to the chickies, and served leftovers for several quick meals.

*Refilled the soap and dish soap dispensers, using a big bottle of bubbles liquid. You know -- the kind you use to blow bubbles with. (It worked great.)

*Took on some restoration jobs. These not only will provide some income in January, often a slow month, but will keep my stitching methods fresh.

*Earned a few more $5 Burger King giftcards via Swagbucks. If you're not familiar with this program, it's great for earning giftcards and other prizes, just by doing your regular work. Go here to sign up -- it doesn't cost a thing, and really pays off.

*Knit Christmas stockings from the thrift shop: a buck each. A few more stockings from the dollar store completed the list this year. I have plans to retrieve a needlepoint stocking I found in the archives, and get it ready for next season.

*A free bagel every Friday in December, courtesy of Panera. Actually, it was every day this month, but I only used it during weekly coffee with friends.

*Little things count. I tried to pay attention to those, whenever possible. Examples: 20 or so extra sq. ft on a roll of giftwrap (same price was charged for all the rolls); imported items (like Mozartkugeln and lebkuchen) only purchased if I could get them at discount; the heaviest/biggest bunch of celery, cilantro or spinach; adding scraps of bacon or corned beef (scavenged from the leftover restaurant half-sandwich) for tastier eggs or fried potatoes.

*A new Nativity set.

*The Brick fixed the stove. The oven hasn't been heating properly for months, and a new circuit board was needed. He figured out a way to jury-rig the board...and now it's doing fine.

*Had a bad dining experience at Freddie's, a normally excellent burger joint. Wrote a letter -- and got a free meal to compensate. (Look for a post soon on how to complain effectively.)

*Progress on the $5-into-$50 scam? Absolutely nothing. I'm still effectively at $0, which is okay. At least I got my money back.

*A couple of small bonuses from my piano students -- always appreciated. One group will start back up in January.

*Bought a few after-Christmas items at 50% off -- or more. Mostly cookies.

*Used the Siena giftcard to celebrate our anniversary luncheon with friends.  Just enough is left on the card for dessert and coffee sometime in the near future.




FRUGAL MISSES

Fortunately, these were rare in December. We did spend more than planned on gifts, goodies and supplies, but got them either on sale or with a discount. Some will be used to help stock and furnish the trailer. Others were items we were low on, like detergent, printer ink and cornstarch. 

*Didn't get much benefit from the Thanksgiving turkey. Nor the Christmas pork loin. However, Daughter #2 and Son #1 took the leftovers home and enjoyed them. That was more than ok.

A bit of food was wasted -- including ham ends and some fruit. Fortunately (or unfortunately), we still have the chickens. They made short work of anything 'iffy.'  Nothing, except some leftover lobster broth, was left over from the Seven Fish Dishes, though. Woo-hoo!

The American Society of Appraisers membership came due: $600. Ouch. Some other memberships, like the Colorado Quilt Council, need to be renewed. Fortunately, an appraisal job some months ago covered my Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum membership, including one for RMQM's Nan's Hundred Club.

Spent more than I'd planned on Christmas gifts... like a last-minute special on some great travel mugs.  I bought 5 -- the Brick, both daughters and Son #1 are irretrievably attached to their coffee mugs. The old ones are beat-up and scratched; they can act as backup. (The mugs are still on sale. You should get one!)




For more Frugal Hits & Misses reports, starting with November, go here. 
   Or compare this month's report with last year.

Who knows what will happen in 2018! We're looking forward to it.



The star still shines on Castle Rock...



Fired Up

Want a crackling, pleasant fire to celebrate the holidays?

The New York Post has a Yule log for you to enjoy on your laptop.




This one includes music:





And this one goes for eight hours!





Or build a nice crackly one yourself. The Brick got Irish peat bricks for his anniversary present, which have produced some aromatic blazes in our woodstove.




Enjoy.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Monday (er, Thursday) Stuff on the Way to Other Stuff: Holidays

We celebrated Christmas Day -- and our anniversary.  (We married the day after Christmas 36 years ago.) Yesterday, we, the girlies and Son #1 had our Christmas, opening presents and playing Scrabble. We celebrated our anniversary with Jumanji (surprisingly good -- better than the new Star Wars movie!) and lunch with friends.
     Celebrating the holidays may have been different than other years, but it was just as nice. Going back to work -- now that's not as much fun. Just a few more days until New Year's Eve...





Clean your house in two hours.  Really??  (From Moneysaving Mom)

A virtual holiday home tour to enjoy.  (Notes from a Cottage Industry)

What Octomom's doing today.  I've had a fascinated interest in this odd person for years. (See what I mean?)

The case of Cliven Bundy, the rancher who refused to give up grazing his cattle on national park land. Things are getting very interesting...

15 child stars who went broke.  Some eventually earned their money back...some didn't.

Dealing with annoying house guests(From Hundred Dollars A Month) While you're at it, her recipe for Coconut Cranberry Breakfast Cookies are darn good.



Why the FBI didn't quiiite trust the movie It's A Wonderful Life(From Smithsonian)

Six media accusations that spread -- and ruined people's lives(From Cracked)

Thrift shop items that make great gifts.  (Some need adapting, like old sweaters.  From Premeditated Living)

The Abominable Snowman gets busted for DUI!  Not sure about this...but hey.

Mavis and her family are looking forward to their annual boxes of 'freebie' goodies from Grandma. (Frankly, I think this is hilarious.) Here's what came last year.  (From Hundred Dollars A Month) Also from Mavis:

Warm, creamy egg custard.  Easy to make, perfect for for a chilly day.



Hope you're having a great week. 



Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Praises sing to the Newborn King. We celebrate His birth...
               and the hope and peace He offers to all.

Have a meaningful and restful Christmas.



Saturday, December 23, 2017

Christmas Eve...And Seven Fish Dishes

     A long time ago, when the girlies were little, we began having seven fish dishes on Christmas Eve. (The Feast of the Seven Fishes is an Italian Catholic tradition, to celebrate the seven sacraments. No, we're not Catholic. Or Italian.) I was experimenting with featuring a country during the Christmas season, so our daughters would get to know other cultures and tradition. What I didn't know was that this particular meal would become our tradition for decades!

The Christmas Goodies blog includes several years' worth of these. Here's one year  to check out. Previous years have longer lists and more recipes than this one. (Life was zany that year. So sue me.)



This year will be different. For one, it's still on Christmas Eve. (We were going to switch it to Christmas Day, to give ourselves a better crack at things. But Daughter #1, for the first time, will be spending the day with Boyfriend at his family's house on Christmas. I am trying not to think about how hard that will be, not to have her here.) 
    For another, Daughter #1's boyfriend, D, is an accomplished cook who runs the kitchen at Interstate, the Denver cafe he owns with his brother. I've tasted his food, and it's outstanding. What's he going to think about my home-cooking-and-general-fooling-around methods?

    He is a nice guy, and probably will be fine with it. Still, I wonder. 

I only have four dishes to do this time around. D has offered to make two, and Daughter #1 wants to contribute one, as well. Also, the girlies asked for their old favorites (#4 and #6), which keeps my experimenting down to a minimum. So here's the current menu:

SEVEN FISH DISHES -- 2018

1. Lobster bisque  (D's contribution)

2. Smoked whitefish  (ditto)

3. Sushi of some kind (Daughter #1's offering)

4. Angels and devils on horseback  (oysters and chicken livers wrapped in bacon. recipe's here)

5. Feeding the Fishes 'concrete'  
        (caviar mixed with sour cream, yogurt and spices: the caviar, plus peppercorns, gives it a gravel pit look. This one's served with crackers -- maybe blini, if I have the time and energy.)
    You get the joke on this, right? Guys that have displeased the Mob, pushed overboard with 'concrete galoshes.' When asked where they are, they're 'feeding the fishes'... 
    Well, I thought it was funny. The dip really DOES look like speckled concrete.

'Ummm...I don't get it.'

6. Shrimp Scampi  (tender shrimp, sauteed in butter and garlic. recipe's here)

7. Teriyaki Salmon fillets   
         (baked with lemon juice and a judicious coating of jarred wasabi teriyaki sauce. Or use this.)

A bottle of wine. Sparkling water, mixed with fruit juice.  Maybe some of the mead, leftover from Thanksgiving.

   Plus some side dishes: rice, green beans (simply cooked with lemon juice and a sprinkle of bacon), clementines, a basic green salad...and frozen strawberries, whizzed in the blender with honey for a slushie effect. You need some accents as 'refreshers,' or all that seafood gets a little cloying.


For dessert:  Hot coffee, Sachertorte (another Brick favorite), a variety of cookies...and some chocolates. (Maybe the Mozartkugeln I snagged at Tuesday Morning. These hazelnut-flavored guys are amazing.)
                         Product Details
 
 
     To be eaten slowly and savored, as we celebrate another wonderful year. 




This post also ran on the Christmas Goodies blog...











Friday, December 22, 2017

Cookies....Mmmmmmmmm

Work is done at Tuesday Morning this week. (Thursday night was long and difficult, and finished with relief. To my friends who got scheduled to work this weekend -- I'm sorry.) Only one more day, then my stint as a holiday temp is done. The bum knee, no thanks to Charley the dog, is doing better.

Life, appraisal and teaching-wise, is quiet. No one wants to worry about this during the holidays...except for the person who's gifting a special piece, and wants to make sure it's protected before it's sent off. I've even done a last-minute appraisal on Christmas eve afternoon,



Our oven has been acting up for weeks  -- and the Brick, after tearing it apart this afternoon, announced it needed a new circuit board. (Yes, that translates out as 'expensive.') I am getting used to its quirks, though -- like the need to set temps 25 degrees higher than I normally use. (Son #1 figured this one out.) I can make do. In fact, I made the Brick promise that he could easily put the stove back together now, so I have it for the Fish Dishes. [Update: he fixed the circuit board! I baked the Sachertorte tonight, and it worked perfectly. The Brick is incredible.]

We still have a bunch of work to do before Sunday night (and the Seven Fish Dishes), not to mention singing for three services in the morning. Stuff is Everywhere. However, most of the presents are wrapped, plans are reasonably complete...and I feel pretty serene about it all. 
    The secret: forgive yourself and your family for not being perfect -- and do the best you can. The hard part: this will be Daughter #1's boyfriend's first visit to the house. I want to impress D. with my brilliant cooking skills and effortless elegance...but it just isn't going to happen. At least he'll know that my hard work ain't been in vain.




How can you help but think about cookies this time of the month? The Mama's wonderful sugar cookies are a pleasant memory. I don't have time to roll out more cookie shapes, but I will bake up two delicious quickies.


First up is Hogmany Shortbread, a crispy, rich cookie that literally takes minutes to push into a pan. Other names for this buttery cookie include 'parliments' (or 'parlies') and 'petticoat tails.' It's traditional for a Scottish New Year, as well as Christmas.

SHORTBREAD

3 1/2 cups flour
1 cup powdered (confectioners) sugar
1 cup regular sugar
2 cups butter

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Soften or melt the butter, then mix in flour and sugars to make a soft dough. (For even better results, chill dough for at least 30 min., up to several hours.) Pat out onto ungreased pan in a circle, or spread out into a 9" x 9" or 9" x 13" pan or sheet. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake 20-30 min., until barely brown. Let cool, then cut into squares or fingers. Store in a covered container; makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Shortbread fingers, from Wikipedia
Shortbread of any kind is wonderful -- here's another version I often make.

Next up is a cookie that looks like a snowball, and is just as easy to form. This recipe comes from Reader's Digest, but is almost word for word like the Mama's version. I've also heard it called Mexican wedding cakes, or its crystalline namesake.

RUSSIAN TEA CAKES

1 cup butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar  (plus about 1 cup more for frosting)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans taste best)

Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Soften or melt the butter, then mix in the other ingredients. (Add additional flour if the dough seems too mushy or soft.) Form balls, using your hands. (Tip: wet them, or rub lightly with butter, to keep things from sticking.) Bake on an ungreased pan for 10 minutes, until firm and lightly touched with brown. While the balls are still warm, roll in powdered sugar. Makes approx. 4 dozen.



These cookies are both particularly good with hot drinks, an interesting book...and a snowy afternoon spent cozily by the glowing lights of the Christmas tree. 




If you'd like to try more cookies:

Moneysaving Mom's Angel Face Cookies are a tasty cross between a sugar cookie and a snickerdoodle.

Hundred Dollars A Month has 25 different cookie recipes to try.

Betty Crocker's site has 24 days' worth of cookie recipes.


Oh my.

(This post also ran on the Christmas Treats blog. Look for this year's version of the Seven Fish Dishes here.)



Make A Rice Krispies House This Christmas!

Gingerbread houses don't have to be the only real estate in town.



This cool-looking house is easy to construct...here's the recipe and full instructions.

Have fun!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Dangers of Dipping

One of the funniest real-life holiday videos I've ever seen. If you've ever gone to an office party (or brought a dish to one), you're sure to relate!



P.S. This artichoke dip is actually pretty good. Thanks, Joyful Abode, for sharing...


Christmas Cartoons...For Free!

Limped my way through three hours work at Tuesday Morning...now I've got a day off before the next stint. Hopefully the knee will continue to improve.

We've (well, mostly me) gone through most of our traditional videos, including such weepy favorites as National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Trading Places and...Die Hard. Nothing like a good machine gun raid combined with Jingle Bells, to get the holiday spirit going.

Turns out Youtube is full of great Christmas videos, including these cartoons:




And the girlies' favorites, ever since they were kids. Christmas Comes But Once A Year:


Jack Frost...



and Somewhere in Dreamland:


Great stuff to wrap presents by.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Remembering Auntie Moe

     Maryann Mosher died last week.

Unless you were one of her kids, grandchildren or even great-grandchildren, you probably didn't know this Sparta, Michigan housewife.
     But I loved her dearly.

She came into The Mama's life during high school. She was a pushy, bossy player on a competing (Comstock Park) basketball team. Ma didn't like her at all -- and the feeling was apparently mutual.
     By the time myself and brother Mike came along, though, 'Auntie Moe' and The Mama had become close friends. I spent many a summer day crammed into a car, along with Joel, Mary, Lois and Paul, headed to Lake Michigan or elsewhere, along with our cousins. We often stopped by the Moshers' house to see what was going on. I even had a (minor) flirtation with Joel, who was my age. (Who frankly paid little attention to the gawky-kneed braces-and-glasses girl who thought he was wonderful. Ah well.)
     Auntie Moe's generosity bloomed as lavishly as the flowers in the beds around her house. Not long after the Brick and I married, I got a vintage clock from her, painted in cheerful red, yellow and blue flowers. "You always admired that clock when you were little," she said, "so I thought you should have it." I'd forgotten the clock -- but I never forgot her thoughtfulness.
     She wasn't a Facebook person. Nor, so far as I know, did she ever do any other social media. But her house was crammed with photos of her family, as well as afghans and other craft items.
     Her faithful sidekick was her husband Carl. ('Uncle Moe,' of course.) He kept things tidy, including their lush backyard, and their kids in play. He drove Auntie Moe wherever she liked, and was the calm presence to her animated stories and comments. They spent time with my parents, often meeting for meals...or just at church every week. Auntie Moe was a special comfort when my dad died, back in 2009.
     She loved to talk about her family -- where they were, what they were doing. Even after we moved to Colorado in 1984, she continued to ask about me and our family, even though she hadn't seen our girlies in years. Nearly every trip back to Michigan included a stop at the Moshers, to see how they were doing.

     The last few visits were telling. Auntie Moe's heart was slowly giving out. Our last visit was by phone call. I told her I loved her. And this wonderful, kind woman said, "I know you do -- and I love you too, Honey." The friendship between her and The Mama grew stronger, as they both realized that it would be pausing soon.
     Thank God for the strong certainty that death is NOT the end, when you believe in His Son. That is even more reinforced by the celebration of the Savior's birth. 

     Rest, dear friend. Say hi to Pa for me. See you soon.


Mosher, Maryann 4/29/1935 - 12/16/2017 Sparta MOSHER Mrs. Maryann Mosher aged 82 of Sparta, passed away Saturday, December 16, 2017. She was preceded in death by her parents, Maurice and Helen Wier; brothers, Maurice and Earl Wier. Surviving are her husband of 62 years, Carl; children, Paul (Vickie) Mosher, Joel (Kathleen) Mosher, Lois (Robert) Kelly, Amy (Karl) Nadolsky, Mary Nester; grandchildren, Paul Mosher Jr., Carl Mosher, Chuck Mosher, Jason (Caitlin) Cousron, Chad (Krysti) Courson, Joel Jr. (Mary) Mosher, Karri (Dan) Creveling, Patrick (Kelly) Kelly, Amanda Kelly, Michelle (Jesse) Montgomery, Jennifer (Jarob) Montgomery, Luke Driscoll, Caleb Driscoll, Rachel Driscoll, Sarah (Billy) Childres; 30 great grandchildren; brothers, Donald (Connie) Wier, David (Diane) Wier; many nieces and nephews. Maryann truly enjoyed her years of raising her family. The greatest love of her life was her husband Carl and spending time with her grandchildren. Funeral services will be held 11:00AM Tuesday, December 19, 2017 at the Stegenga Funeral Chapel Belmont, 1601 Post Dr. NE. Her family will greet relatives and friends Monday from 5 to 7PM at the funeral chapel and one hour prior to the service on Tuesday. Interment Blythefield Memory Gardens. To share a photo, memory and sign the family's online guestbook please visit www.stegengafuneralchapel.com

This is not a typical picture of her...she usually had bright eyes and a half-smile.



Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Stiff-Kneed...Hopefully not Stiffnecked

     Charley the dog, in all his 125-pound glory, decided to take a shortcut to his breakfast bowl...putting his full weight on my knee.
     Which means I've been hobbling to work at Tuesday Morning, not to mention doing errands, etc. etc. I gimp along gingerly, until the joint loosens up and I can limp a little faster. Hot baths and stretching help.
      Sunday morning, our choir and Worship Team sang -- the Brick and I are on both. It was just wonderful trying to climb the steps up and down the platform, plus stand there behind the keyboard for both services. Almost as fun as standing by the cash register for hours at TM.
     Ah well. Mustn't grumble. The knee, thankfully, is getting better. 

    Charley didn't even apologize.

Mom...now how about bending that knee over to my foodbowl stat? I think it's empty. 
The Bible keeps talking about 'stiffnecked people' who don't pay attention. Hopefully, stiff-kneed isn't the same thing.
     Meanwhile:

Ten artifact hunters who hit it big.  And some now regret it... (From Listverse)

Royal Marine -- and secret IRA terrorist. How he was caught.

'Which of these three paintings was the best investment?' An interesting  comparison -- though frankly, I would not have purchased any of them.  (From Artnet)

A man bursts into flame on a London street. How did it happen?? No one knows for sure, so far...but spontaneous combustion is a real possibility.

Remember my post about the chicken who plays Puccini?  A coworker at TM swears that we have windchimes which play a theme from Madame Butterfly. We were too busy this afternoon, for me to investigate. More on this soon.




A wreath of good Christmas posts, from food to gifts.  (From one of my favorite bloggers, Thrifty Mom in Boise)

Fifteen photos of Prince William and his family.  One of the few royals who honestly seems like an everyday Nice Guy. (Here's my vote, world, for his ascending the throne, instead of his dad. Although I still wonder how Britain can afford a monarch who seemingly doesn't do much but act as a PR person. We've got enough trouble with just one president.)

Ten gift ideas, for the teacher in your lifeNot to mention other people...(From Brad's Deals)

An interview with the Chameleon -- a man who has pretended hundreds of times to be lost and missing boys. (And gotten away with it -- for a while, at least.) Does he regret his deceptions? What do you think?

The true story of Dunkirk, as seen from the decks of the Medway Queen.  (Thanks, Smithsonian)

What have you gotten for free and/or cheap lately? A classic from yours truly.

Ten odd Christmas characters.  Including our friend the Pooper, not to mention his/her other buddies at the Nativity.  (From Listverse)    Plus:

Ten instances where drones helped with archeological finds.  This is in honor of Son #1, who just got one for his birthday...

A very unusual Christmas tree. See my previous post for others

A young boy moans about being bullied, how unfair it all is, etc. etc. The video was posted by his mom -- and nearly $57,000 (not to mention a boatload of comments, reviews, etc.) is raised.
    That's great... right?
    However, Keaton Jones' video has some interesting side issues.  Mom is shown on Facebook waving a Confederate flag. Normally, I wouldn't have a gigantic problem with that -- I'm one in a big family of Southerners, after all, and it could be just Southern pride. But Dad just happens to be an avowed white supremacist who's in jail for violating probation after being convicted for aggravated assault.
     The money's been frozen until the Powers That Be can figure things out. (As of this writing, it's still sitting, waiting for disbursement.) Meanwhile, Keaton and his mom continue to say that they're not rascist...why would anyone think that?
      Hmmm.
Here's his initial video:



plus comments by Keaton and mom -- you decide.




A holographic French art exhibit you have GOT to see. (This popped on my Facebook page, from one of my friends there.) Be sure to click on the video when you access the link.

Five incredible historic items (and discoveries) found randomly.  (From Cracked) Rank this up with:

Eight incredible discoveries people kind of bumbled onto.  Including the lady with Jackson Pollock drip painting found at a thrift store. I knew there were questions about it...but didn't realize that a fingerprint on the painting had been authenticated as from Pollock. That changes things!

Have a good -- and not too busy -- week.





Saturday, December 16, 2017

Zzzzzzzz...

After four hours at Tuesday Morning's checkout line today, I can honestly relate.




Okay, maybe a nap AND a cookie. 

Friday, December 15, 2017

Ease Up on Your Christmas

For those with limited time...and less energy.

15 terrific Christmas decorating and gift ideas from Clean and Scentsible -- take a look by clicking here.




By the way -- you ARE seeing snowflakes drifting across this blog. Courtesy of the Brick (who figured out how to do it), and the holiday season!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Jingle Bells, Jingle...Oh, Forget It

I'm here...it's just been a little zany. 





To keep you occupied until I get back...
          Country Living Magazine has 49 ideas for tables during the holidays. including this very cool napkin-folded Christmas tree. (See below.)

                           Have fun!





Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Phenomenal Gems Shows Its Stuff

Don't miss one of the season's best gift shows! One day only in Longmont, CO:  Sunday, Dec. 17.



Looking for the perfect holiday gift? You’re in luck! Phenomenal Gems and Ecualove are doing a rare holiday show, and will be at Last Chance Gift Fest this coming Sunday, 12/17, 10 am-5pm. Stop by and check out our amazing selection of mineral specimens, Ecuadorian textiles and clothing, and more! 

Last Chance Gift Fest is a large gift show with more than 165 of Colorado’s finest vendors, offering a seemingly infinite variety of gifts for your holiday list. Doors open at 10 am and close at 5 pm, on Sunday 12/17. Last Chance Gift Fest is at Boulder County Fairgrounds, 9595 Nelson Rd, Longmont, CO. Admission is free! Tag a buddy and share—the more the merrier! 🎁 #giftshow #crystals #minerals #handmadetextiles #colors #worldwide#globalgifts #holidays #excitement #localbusiness #craftfair #rocksandminerals #textiles#smallbusiness #shopsmall #supportlocal #holidayshopping #giftideas #lastminutegifts#christmas #Hanukah #kwanzaa #phenomenalgems #ecuador #ecualove #fairtrade#december #bethere #etsy

Monday, December 11, 2017

Wall-ing Up the Christmas Tree

Have you been wishing for a different kind of tree this year? 

Try these alternatives; they save space and make some striking decor.
      You can still put presents under them, as well.












All photos via Pinterest



Sunday, December 10, 2017

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: A New Nativity

     I love a beautiful Nativity.

After living with a gorgeous village of figures under the tree while I was in grad school, I have been partial ever since to Italian-made sets. They're expensive, though -- the best we could afford were plastic figures that 'looked' right. 
     I loved putting them out. I also loved watching Daughters rearrange the scene, when they thought I wasn't looking. 

The problem: our Christmas decorations, including the Nativity set, are in storage in Michigan. 

The solution:  a new Italian set. Less than $20, thanks to Tuesday Morning...and my discount.

Finally, I have Italian Nativity figures -- thirty-five years after I first admired them. Maybe I can add more in the future.


Not quite as nice as these -- but beautiful, nonetheless

Speaking of the holidays:  The Brick has been watching a holiday-themed movie most days with me. I thought this interesting, since in his opinion, Christmas starts Dec. 24...that's when you start ramping it up and doing stuff. He announced this afternoon that he'll (grudgingly) watch holiday movies with me, provided he only has to see one a day. 
    "But you've already seen two today," I said. (Trading Places and White Christmas.) He looked shocked for a moment -- then started up a Christmas episode of JAG I missed last night. That makes three -- what a guy. 

     He's been putting Christmas music on, too, without any prompting. Miracles do happen.

    This weekend, neither of us has been in tiptop shape. I dragged myself out to the post office Sunday evening...but otherwise, we've stayed quiet and resting. (Computer stuff fits right in.) No church -- no Tuesday Morning hours (thank God). To make things even more interesting, Sir Charles managed to bang up my knee while racing to the morning gobble. 
      So now I limp AND try to breathe through the congestion. Meanwhile:

The Geminid meteor shower will be happening Dec. 13-14.  Step outside and take a look.

A Hawaiian hike, including a bamboo forest and 7 sacred pools. Give yourself a tropical break, if you're dealing with snow and cold right now.  (From Funky Junk Interiors)

Purchasing plans, including groceries, for a simpler December.  (From The Prudent Homemaker)

Katy Perry, Warren Buffett and Bitcoin...whaddya think?  (From The Wealth Advisor)

Vapor rub shower melts and bath bombs -- make them yourself. Now you've got a fighting chance to clear your sinuses -- and help flu symptoms -- just by taking a hot bath or shower. These might be good presents, too.  (From Homespun Hydrangea)




Ten creatures supposed to be extinct...that may not be
.  (From Listverse) Also:

Ten stories of people trapped underwater. I thought about this, while following news on:

Argentina's missing submarine.   (Still missing, sadly.)

An illegal from Mexico (with SEVEN previous felony convictions), who's been deported five times before, is protected by San Franciso's "city of sanctuary" status. ('Hey, we're innocent in all this,' city officials say.) Meanwhile, Our Hero 'finds' a gun, picks it up and it 'accidentally' goes off (do you really believe this?) and kills a young girl. But hey, it's not his fault, according to the jury....acquitted.
    Outrageous.
    See Mr. Innocent here.




Sadly, stuff like this has happened before.

Strip-piecing in quantity, made easy.  This is an old trick worth resurrecting; I first read about it from Marti Michel.  (From Blooms and Blossoms)



Eighteen funny animal pictures taken at the wrong (or right!) time.

A huge bunch of odd (and fascinating) historical photos.

And in the spirit...Bizarro Christmas comics courtesy of yours truly, including the classic below.

Have a good week. 









Ducks, Cruises...And Friends

Last day in Branson. A rattling trip in an amphibious vehicle (DUKW) -- Riding With the Ducks, they call it. Shopping at the local ...