Friday, November 17, 2017

Presents...For Much Less

    Unless you're a bazillionaire (or spend like one), it's easy to look at the list of people you want to buy gifts for...
     and feel a little frightened.

How are you going to stretch your budget to cover everybody? 

Sometimes -- you shouldn't. Not every friend expects a lavish present. In fact, most would be happy you didn't -- because they can reciprocate in the same way.

Waltzing onstage: a batch of present ideas priced at $5 -- or less.

Handmade can be best. Many people have neither the time nor talent to stitch a small purse, or embroider something. If you can, and do it well -- do it.

'New' is relative. A basket purchased at Wal-Mart looks no different than one from the thrift shop. Also, look for items there still in the box. (I've found many, with the price tags still on.)

If it's vintage or antique -- highlight that. (Vintage, by the way, is 25 years or more. Appraisers and historians argue about the 'antique' label: some say 50 years or more, others, 100 years.)

Do 'gift basket' groupings. Multiple items look even more impressive, particularly when surrounded with tissue and arranged in a small basket or box. After all:

It's all in the presentation. Plastic giftwrap, ribbon and specialty tags don't cost much -- and make modest presents look like a million bucks.

Note: I'll be mentioning Tuesday Morning a lot -- I just started working there as a seasonal temp, and have noticed a number of interesting items. (Thereafter listed as TM.) But you can find many of these at your local stores. Don't forget thrift shops, dollar stores and the antique mall -- they often have unique items that can't be found in the plastic tzochke bins at other places.

                     FOR LESS THAN $5 (or even just a buck)

*A nice brandy snifter or crystal wineglass -- accompanied by a sampler bottle of wine, bourbon or brandy. (The bottles are running a buck each at our local Bubbles liquor store -- I'd get the glasses at the thrift shop or antique mall, but you can find them for $2.99 or less at TM.)

*Make your own moonshine. Last year's batch worked out to roughly $1.50 a pint.

*Christmas wreath or swag. Wire forms are cheap -- or make your own with a wire clotheshanger. Use trimmings from your backyard, including firs and evergreens.

 Keep it plain, or add a string of LED tiny lights and a bright red bow.

*Vintage handkerchiefs. (Add a copy of my Hanky Panky method, if they're quilters! Or add a comment with your contact info, and I'll send you a basic handout.)

*A sampler of items. For the scrapbooker: trims, scissors, specialty paper or stickers. For the stitcher: embroidery floss, thread, buttons, fabric squares. For the jewelry-lover: charms, beads, pliers and decorative wire. For the biker (motorcycles, I mean -- but it would work for mountain bikers, too): bandanna, wax or polish, reflective light, sleeve/pants guards. For the pet-lover: treats, a new feeding dish, chew rope or collar. The list can be endless, once you visit the clearance section, discount stores, etc. (Think 'small amounts:' a fat quarter at the fabric store, versus a yard or two, for example.)

*Snowmen pops: frost a package of Oreo cookies and dot on faces with frosting, chips or candies -- stick them on popsicle sticks, then tie with ribbon. Done!

*Giant gingerbread man or lady -- these are also good, made with my grandma's secret sugar cookie recipe Add a bowtie of decorative ribbon, then wrap in plastic.

*For kids: The promise of a trip to the dollar store -- and a fast food snack afterwards. Limit purchases to one item of their choice -- or one for every one of their family members. My piano students love this annual 'Christmas present shopping' trip.

*A portable game... plus an offer to play it with them. Add a small pack of nuts and a scorepad.

*Specialty pen with notepad  (TM has small bejeweled pads for $1.99 each)

*A pack of holiday napkins, with a bottle of barbecue or other specialty sauce -- and a recipe.

*Cup and saucer, in their favorite pattern or design.  (Add a teabag and sugar-dipped decorative spoon -- or substitute a small packet of coffee with a chocolate-dipped spoon. Hot chocolate works, too.)

*Package of teabags with a small bag of cookies. Add a paperback or video, for extra oomph. Or:

*Include a package of microwave popcorn with the paperback or video. Or Caramel Corn -- see below.

*Decorative mug -- with a copy of the Cup Cookies recipe below
   (Bonus: Mix the ingredients in a plastic bag. Tie with ribbon and include.)

*Earbuds, in a bright color -- with a CD of Christmas music. (You'll find both of these at the dollar store, for less than you think.)

*Cellphone accessories or tools. A small pack of these is surprisingly affordable -- try TM or other discount stores. The Brick enjoys tinkering with his cellphone, eyeglasses and other items that demand tiny repair tools.

*A $5 giftcard, wrapped in a handkerchief, or a small case you've stitched (or glued) from scrap paper or fabric.

If your time is limited (and for many of us, that's the case), then look for food gifts that can be made quickly, with minimum fuss. One of my old 'keeping food on a budget' posts has some excellent recipes, including Caramel Corn, Cup Cookies (see above), the best brownies ever, and...

these Peanut Butter cookies -- delicious, and no gluten. I made a batch in literally five minutes -- they'll be munched up faster than that.

1 cup peanut butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon vanilla. Mix together and form into balls (squash with a fork for the traditional look) -- bake at 350 degrees for 10-11 min., until lightly brown. Makes about a dozen. (Yes, this recipe can be doubled and tripled.)

Brandy, over at Prudent Homemaker, has rustic-looking Christmas stockings she sewed from...painters dropcloth! These would make an interesting case for your holiday gift -- and something your recipient could use next season, as well.

If you have a lot of recipients to cover, one of Meredith's classic posts on Like Merchant Ships has a remarkable list of ideas for presents at a DOLLAR -- or less. (And they're good ones. I have plans for Paula Deen's House Blend mix myself. See the link.)

Another post of Meredith's gives more  'shoestring' present ideas, as does Charity Grace's thrifty little Christmas.

I keep a few items like this handy year-round for birthdays, as well as Christmas. Thinking ahead keeps your budget lean and active...without the frantic need to rush out at the last minute to Get Something. And that gives you more time for enjoying other parts of the holiday.

Be sure to add a note to the giftee, telling them why they are special to you. They'll like that as much -- or more -- than the present itself.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Paint Your Own Watercolor Portraits

I was intrigued by this idea from Elise at the blog Grow Creative:

Anyone can paint watercolor portraits, using the light and dark shadowing of anyone's face.

Not being an art major, I was a little skeptical. But the step-by-step tutorial proves she's right! All you need is a digital photo printout (faces plus partial bodies seem to work best); plain paper; a pencil; your computer ..and of course, a set of watercolors. You could do it with a 99-cent kids set, or a professional watercolor palette: good results, either way.

Go here for full details. Why not do a portrait (or two) for a Christmas present?
    (Elise does custom work, too.)

These Won't Do It...

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tumbling Blocks - Made Easier

This allover pattern (known as Baby Blocks and Tumbling Blocks, among other names) has been a favorite of quilters for centuries -- even the early Colonial period.

     Before that, geometric designs like it were often featured in tile and parquet floors, particularly in Dutch Master paintings.  Take this checkerboard example:

Nicolaes Maes  The Idle Servant   (National Gallery collection, UK -- courtesy of Wikipedia)

You can even make your own 'tile' (actually painted) Tumbling Blocks floor, thanks to Make It Lovely. Go here for directions.

If you were stitching this pattern in cloth, it demanded painstaking piecing, usually by hand. It was difficult to get the diamond seams accurate, and points smooth.

Until now. 

Try this modern variation from Teresa Down Underbased on a technique developed by Marci Baker. Click on the link -- or take a look at the photos below. (Think 'rows,' instead of 'blocks.')

These videos are helpful, too:

This is Marci's video on the technique:

I've strip-pieced this pattern in Amish-inspired solids, like this 1930s version:

But it's equally beautiful in a scrappy mix of fabrics.

Rainbows or pastels, anyone? 

And not just cottons, either -- many 19th century Baby Block quilts were pieced in silks. Sometimes those areas were accented with Crazy-patched sections, as well. However, this 18th century version is straight cottons:

Shared by photos are via Pinterest


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Putting Up, Shutting Up

A whole bunch of things are finishing up right now.

Mail this batch of packages here -- put this sack of groceries away there -- and try to fit in meals and cleaning up somehow, plus a few hours a week at Tuesday Morning. The house is starting to look better, but there's a lot more to go. 

So why is it that I just want to curl up on these gray-sky afternoons, cup of Irish tea at hand, and read by the fire? 

Back to work. Meanwhile:

VETERAN'S DAY NOTE:  There's one more opportunity to celebrate this, veterans -- Golden Corral's free buffet for vets is Monday, November 13, 5-9 p.m. Go here for details.

Artists' assistants -- and theft.  It happens a lot more than you think.  (From Artnet) Also from them:

A set of Andy Warhol Marilyn Monroe prints are shipped -- and arrive without the cardboard box they were originally stored in. So what happens? The dealer sues the shipper for $250,000.  (I'd love to hear the backstory on this one.)

The MERMEN calendar from Newfoundland.  Whoo hoo, guys!  I'll take a sexy man with a beard anyday...if it's the Brick.

Top Tens, credit-wise -- the best (and the worst) states for credit scores. (Hint: Minnesota is first for the best; Arkansas for the worst.)

Ten death masks of famous people. Controversial death masks, that is. Did you know that Shakespeare is thought to have had one?  (From Listverse)

"I don't want to live like I'm poor forever."  Would you, if you retired early?  (From GoCurryCracker)

25 really easy Thanksgiving desserts.  (From Taste of Home)

A tiny home -- built by a first-grade teacher and her grandparents.  (From Tiny Home Design)

A grasshopper stuck in a Van Gogh painting. Proving the artist DID paint outdoors...

Paladin Press is going out of business.  If you haven't heard of this gunslinging, sword-waving survivalist publisher...some of your male family members are bound to know. (Especially if they're interested in guns.) Prices are excellent on some hard-to-find books, including a whole section on historic weapons and combat techniques. You have until the end of November to order...maybe. Quantities are limited -- when they're gone, they're gone.

68 stocking stuffers for guys. An oldie-but-goodie from Frugal Upstate. (She's back, by the way, and posting again.)

Making cider - hard and otherwise.  (From the Frugalwoods)

The author of racial slurs (including the n-word) at the Air Force Academy? A black cadet.

An elderly woman, lost in the cold -- but found in about 25 minutes, thanks to a drone. Now THAT'S what it's supposed to be used for!

Is this really a Civil War era quilt? Your opinion is welcomed. (From Barbara Brackman's Civil War Quilts)

Have a great week.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Flying High, Red, White & Blue

A free Freedom Eagle pattern,  in commemoration of Veteran's Day.  It makes a striking quilt.

Click on the link for instructions and pattern pieces.

Thank you, American Quilter's Society!

Veteran's Day Specials Saturday! (Nov. 11)

If you're a veteran, active, former or retired, all sorts of goodies are available, free of charge, on November 11...

...including free meals at Freddy's, Applebee's, Golden Corral (that one's on the 13th), and:

appetizers at Outback and Red Lobster.

Plus a whole lot more.

Take a look at this list. Warning: any meal specials we've taken advantage of in past years have meant waiting in line. It's just the way it is.

More specials here, too.

The Brick served 6 years in the Navy. His dad was career Navy (a medical corpsman stationed at a Marine base - Camp LeJeune). His brothers are career Navy (a submarine captain) and Air Force (in charge of a radar-tracking base north of Great Falls, MT). Both are retired now.

My dad served in the Army, in Germany. We have several uncles who served during WWII.

So yes, we have a soft heart for the military.


We're grateful.

Thursday, November 9, 2017


Bernie Madoff's victims are getting some of their money back. 

Rod Rosenstein, the deputy U.S. attorney general, called it "the largest restoration of forfeited property in history,"

More than 16,500 claimants -- about 2/3 of Madoff's total victim database -- are getting the first of more than a 4 billion dollar victims' fund. This batch: 772 million dollars. 

     (More about the recovery of funds from the Madoff scandal here.)

Sounds like a lot, doesn't it? Too bad it's only about 25% of what these people's investments were. (Yes, that's indicative of how much Mr. Madoff was funneling through his system over the years. Yow.)

Meanwhile, Mr. Madoff is enjoying (well, sort of) his life in a comfortable medium security prison. He cleans cells, works in the commissary, and is considered a "prison big shot."

His darling wife had to give up a lot of money, but got to keep a million or so. Hopefully she's making do with that paltry amount. Maybe there's spare change under the couch cushions to keep her going.

He's been in prison for nearly a decade now. (He's 79.) Many of his associates are serving time along with him. (Some have finished - some, like his brother Peter, are not done yet.) Both his sons are dead: one from cancer, one from suicide. His family has pretty much cut ties with him.

      Was it worth it, Bernie? Did living the high life for a few decades equal the chance to ruin a whole bunch of people's lives?
      Including your own?

On June 29, 2009, he was sentenced to 150 years in prison.

      Only 142 more to go.

"It's not like I considered myself a bad person. I made a horrible mistake and I'm sorry."
                                                -- Bernard Madoff

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Christmas Traditions

     Cold winds and dreary skies...
               It's time to start thinking more about Christmas.

Our holidays this year will be pretty straightforward -- we're still packing up and clearing away, so it will be a chance to enjoy a few items before they disappear into the donation bin.

The Seven Fish Dishes are coming... a tradition for our family for decades now.

This year, I plan to add something different. British Christmas cake has been on our table for years --  Austrian Sachertorte, too. Now I'll add some more English desserts, including mince pie and Christmas pudding. Maybe even a meat pie and salmon mousse, as well. (Recipes for these are coming.)

We'll be doing other things we always do:
     *Setting up the Nativity figures -- then  watch the girlies move them around. Which amuses the crap out of me. (But don't tell them that.)
     *Holiday movies, enjoyed several nights each week -- starting with National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

     *Packing shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.

      *Funding some quiet gifts to people who need them -- in a way that they'll never know who did it.

      *Going to at least one holiday concert.

      *Singing in our church choir (starting the first Sunday of Advent -- practice has already begun).

      *Christmas presents (a few), plus the pleasure of filling stockings.
            I really enjoy doing this.    (Other people do, too.)
             The girlies and Son #1 act nonchalant, but I notice they don't hesitate to dig in. The Brick, on the other hand, is blase about it -- so I just put in a few things for him, particularly...
     *A can of black olives for each Christmas stocking (to be munched on while reading the Christmas book of the season)


It's fun to see how others treat this happy time, as wellAnd the pleasure is just beginning!

Church Shootings: What The...?!?

     By now, you're sure to have heard about the shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, TX. Disheartening: 26 people dead, more wounded. The shooter was only stopped because a plumber next door got a phone call from his daughter -- rushed out, shot the guy, got another man to give him a ride, then chased the shooter for miles before the truck crashed...and the shooter took his own life.

Another shooting happened in Tennessee in September. We are no strangers to this, either, after the Colorado Springs church shooting a decade ago.  (Plus the Colorado theater shooting in 2012.)

What to do?

It's clear that there will always be disgruntled wackos out there, who can get their hands on weapons -- illegally or not. (In this guy's case, the Air Force never publicized his dishonorable discharge -- which surely would have kept him from buying those guns. The Air Force admitted they never let the FBI know: "a huge mistake.")

Our church made a decision about this issue more than a year ago. On any given Sunday, by special arrangement, at least a few men will be 'packing,' as the Brick and I are fond of saying. Legally, with concealed weapon permits.

It's amazing what you can conceal under a sportcoat or leather jacket. And equally amazing what 99.9% of the people in the congregation will never notice -- or know about.

Others in church membership keep guns accessible. In Colorado's case, you're allowed to keep one in your trunk -- if it's locked up. That's what saved the church in Tennessee. (These articles take another look -- be sure to read the 'Packing in the Pews' article, especially, passed on by a retired pastor -- thanks, Cousin Leo.)

The deacon that arranged this plan for our church is related to a famous mob family. I find that amusing!

But it is also a relief.

Monday, November 6, 2017

An Apple A Day...

    We've got a vegetable crisper full of apples, waiting to be used up. They came from Palisade...and they're delicious, just by themselves. I've had a hankering for caramel apples -- but the ones at our local grocery stores have some kind of crumbly stuff on them, instead of nuts.

     Time to make my own. Here we go.


You'll need this recipe, adapted from Food Network:


1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup half-and-half  (or whole milk)
4 tablespoons butter
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon vanilla (wait on this for a bit)

Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, stirring as you go, until thickened. (It should take 5-7 min.)  Stir in the vanilla and cook another minute, until it gets even thicker. Let cool, pour into a jar and store in the refrigerator. Makes about a cup.

Pinterest has links to a bunch of caramel apple recipes. Adventures of a DIY Mom has some helpful tips for caramel apples, as well. Just A Taste has some nice decorated apples, as well.

You'll also need:
*sharp-pointed sticks and wax paper
*chopped walnuts or pecans
*decorative sprinkles
*chocolate syrup  (Hershey's is a good brand)
*white frosting or a tube of icing, thinned

Wash apples, and push a stick through the center of each. Heat the caramel until boiling -- dip each apple in the sauce, then press gently into nuts and/or sprinkles. Let cool on wax paper, then drizzle with syrup or frosting. (Use the photo below for inspiration.) Once the apples are cool, keep in the fridge until they're inhaled. (And they will be.)

Here's Just A Taste's version

Caramel apple slice variation:  Core apples and cut into slices; dip into a bowl of water with a little lemon juice to prevent darkening, then arrange on a platter. Heat caramel sauce until warm, then set saucers of nuts and sprinkles nearby. Dip apples into caramel, then into your choice of additional goodies. (Drizzle frosting and syrup on the slices, as well.)

Snarf up -- and enjoy.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Nooo, November!

     This week begins a new direction. Just for fun (and to beef up the savings account), I took a seasonal job at Tuesday Morning. I start Tuesday, ironically. It's only 10-20 hours weekly -- and it only goes through Christmas. But the extra dollars should help. (If I can keep myself from spending extra there, due to the employee discount, that is.) The pay is nowhere near teaching and appraising, but for now, it's ok. 
     I still would like to try working at Little Caesar's. The writer in me is very curious about what goes on there. But the Brick is adamant -- no way. 
     My last teaching gig was last week, and the appraising always slows down this time of year. (Clients seem to have other things to think about, for some odd reason! :) I plan to put some extra hours into scrubbing and cleaning up piles around the house, too. 
     Thanks to several wonderful sales, the ingredients for this year's Seven Fish Dishes are purchased. So are Thanksgiving's needs, except for some pecans and buying the turkey. (I've got a raincheck for 89-cents/lb turkey breast.) That also means, though, that the freezer and fridge are stuffed full. Perhaps I can reorganize that this week, as well.

By now, I hope you've read the outcome of the altered check. I'm sure there will be more; after all, if my little dear was indeed caught, straight off the bus, I'll probably have to furnish some kind of statement. 
      One Gentle Reader pointed out that I'll be coming out of this, making a profit. I guess that's true, if you disregard that I set aside other work while spending a very long day, traipsing around to various agencies, filing resports. And if her case does indeed go to trial, I will most probably have to spend more time and effort on it.

     Honestly though, I would rather none of this had ever happened.

     Do I feel compassion for this poor girl, who is now in a heap of trouble? Yes. Do I want to see her stopped -- so she doesn't continue to scam people? Absolutely. Hopefully this will check her now, instead of continuing the pattern into adulthood. The girl I met was bright, clever and friendly...she could go far, if she used those skills honestly. 

UPDATE: Gentle Reader is right. All Hollander impulses aside, I don't want to be seen as profiting from this experience. Once that check arrives, I will donate it -- and a good share will go to Wounded Warriors Project, I think. Thank you for keeping me on the straight and narrow!

Paladin Press is going out of business.  If you haven't heard of this gunslinging, swashbuckling survivalist publisher...some of your male family members are bound to know. (Especially if they're interested in guns.) Prices are excellent on some hard-to-find books and videos, including a whole section on historic weapons and combat techniques. There's even a very weird book on cannabilism. (Hey, I don't make this stuff up -- reality is strange enough.)
     You have until the end of November to order...maybe. Quantities are limited -- when they're gone, they're gone.

14 ways to REALLY organize your kitchen -- from someone with restaurant experience. (Thanks, Buzzfeed. P.S. They recommend this store.)

Easy Christmas stockings to make -- and fill.  Don't miss out on the comments -  more good ideas there.  (From Prudent Homemaker)

Pizza -- a bazillion different ways. In honor of our friend Trevor, who loves it. (From Good Cheap Eats)

When your health insurance doubles in price. What do you do next?  (From Mr. Money Mustache)

"How I feed my family on $300 a month...even with a gluten-free diet."  (From Moneysaving Mom)

Farm gate sales -- a great way to sell eggs, produce and other what-have-yous from home. (From Our New Life in the Country)

Adding character to plain walls with architectural molding. Sounds snooty, but it's not that hard to do, and looks great.  (From Emily Henderson)

Does bringing your lunch to work actually save money? The answer, in brief: YES.  (From Making Sense of Cents)

How to become an insanely good writer -- according to Stephen King. (Who's actually one of the best.)

Five murder mysteries almost too weird to be real. (Warning: these can get really vulgar. Intriguing -- but rude. Thanks, Cracked)

Classic diner foods to make at home -- 50 recipes.  (From Taste of Home)

Mall-style pretzels. These take a little time -- but are worth it.  (From AllRecipes) If you liked those:

School lunchroom lady rolls.  Soft, tender...delicious.

Spanish rice. Easy and good, yes -- but versatile in how it can be used elsewhere. Like in bean burritos.  (From The Prudent Homemaker)

Thirteen things found on the Internet. Including an incredible Spartanburg, SC mansion due to be demolished, and some Really Weird dance costumes.  (From Messy Nessy Chic, who does this interesting list weekly.)

Appetizers ready in 15 minutes? Yes, thanks to Betty Crocker. Think how handy these will be during the holidays, especially for unexpected guests. Like this artichoke dip:

Have a great week. And don't hesitate to stand up for yourself and your family! 
            It's not easy...but it's worth it.

photo via Pinterest

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Clever Is As Clever Does...

Yep, I can tell you all about the history of indigo and turkey red. But do I always know where my car keys are? Naaahhh...

The Conclusion to 'The Case of the Altered Check'

...I think.

Life can be pretty strange nowadays.

Remember my check for $5 -- that magically changed into $50? Thanks to the loose fingers of a certain door-to-door teenager, that is.

I got a phone call from the director at Priority Choice Marketing, the company that had hired her. They knew exactly who she was, because she was one of four solicitors in Colorado, used her real initials and employee i.d. number on my receipt. Either really stupid -- after all, she was a kid -- or really smart.

She was 18.
Had already been in trouble with the law a few times.  (I can just guess.)

And she'd done this check-altering business to a dozen or more others, besides me. 

The company didn't notice, because she'd also altered the hard copy on the receipts she turned in. (Did she turn them all in? I wonder.) They didn't notice...until my letter arrived.

Apparently no one else had complained, up to that point. Hey, people, didn't that scammed money mean much to you?? Or did you think that neither the police, nor your bank, would bother with that small amount, anyways? (Frankly, if you did, you were right.)

The police in Summit County (where Priority Choice Marketing is located) wouldn't file charges until they'd gotten copies of ALL the paperwork, and processed it all. That took more than a which time, Little Miss Liar-Pants not only denied the check changes ('somebody else did it'), but suddenly had urgent business in her home state of Washington.
     Where she was now headed, on a bus.

Fortunately, the Summit County arrest warrant had come through. The Washington cops would pick her up at the bus station, when she got off.
     I hope so.

At any rate, Priority Choice Marketing was NOT part of this scheme...
     really does send care kits to troops overseas...

and not only was reversing the charges (so Air Academy Credit Union would get their money back), but was sending me a $50 check, for the trouble I'd gone through.


Now THAT's customer service. 

  Thank you, Priority Choice Marketing, for being a company that stands behind your customers. I appreciate it. 

I would love to see the face of my little dear when she steps off the bus this weekend, and sees her new friends waiting for her.

Only I doubt she'll be smiling.

photo via Pinterest

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Quilting View'Point:' Half-Square Triangles

I am just in love with this charming pieced 'arrow' design:

Teresa Down Under (yes, she's Australian) came up with this 'Doubly Striped, Half Square Triangle Block' version, just by cutting four strips the same size, sewing them together, cutting and sewing again.

It's called Hidden Wells.

Go to Teresa's pattern page on her blog, 'Sewn Up,'  for full instructions.

Or look here...

Or here. Wow.

More half-square triangle ideas here.

Update on the 'Altered' Check

Remember the little dear, who magically changed my $5 check into a $50 one?

Magic fingers, all right... from via Pinterest

Well, she may have gotten away with it -- but at least my money's back.

The credit union admitted there was funny stuff going on with the doctored check, and refunded the entire amount.

Bless you, Air Academy Credit Union. May all your ones become tens.

That's the good news.  The bad news: no one, credit union or police department included, thinks that $50 is enough to try and hunt this nice young girl down.

Money is money to me -- whether it's $5 or $5000. 

I understand why they've made the decision -- after all, they have much larger fish to fry, so to speak. Tracking down criminals takes time and effort.  But that also means that this 'nice' girl got away with scamming the money. (Or maybe she didn't -- I haven't heard from the marketing company yet.)

And if 'Little Miss Liar-Pants' (as one of my appraiser colleagues calls her) did it once, she'll do it again. 

But not to me.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Alien Autopsy For Dinner...On Halloween!

This has got to be one of the strangest (and most intriguing) ideas for Dia de Los Muertos:

Your meal, presented as something straight out of Area 51:

Those are barbecued ribs, by the way...

Go to Mavis' blog, Hundred Dollars A Month, for specifics. (Actually, Jen, one of her readers, came up with the idea.)

Weird...and cool, too.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Cloudy and Colder

    Our part of the world (Colorado, between Denver and the Springs) is normally drenched in sunshine nearly every day of the year. It's a big change from the Michigan I grew up in, which seems to spit out two or three dreary days for every sunny one. In fact, whenever we headed east to visit the folks, we'd joke about dropping off the sun in Iowa, and picking it back up on the way home. 

     So what have we had here, for the past week? 

     Michigan weather -- but without the moisture. (Well, a couple of gray afternoons with a scraping of snow, including Monday.) Those of you who live back east, I don't know how you do it. Sheer courage.

     Halloween candy is out and ready for the trick-or-treaters. We even got carved pumpkins early, for chicken use. (Our neighbors had ground squirrels change their jack-o-lanterns into open-faced zombies, thanks to some snacking.) We don't celebrate, but my piano students and the neighborhood kids do. We'll probably do the usual: snuggle up by the woodstove with buttered popcorn and a scary movie. And wait for the doorbell to ring.

Visits are up again! This blog has held pretty steady at 5000+...even more than 5600 visits this month. Thank you, Gentle Readers, for being so faithful. I've got plenty to share with you. 

FREE Collector's Workshops Nov. 3...courtesy of Skinner Auctions, to advertise the Americana one they'll be doing Nov. 4. If you're in the Boston, MA area, don't hesitate to attend -- you'll learn!

Celebrities' dogs in costume.  And nearly all of them look miserable. Shades of...

And from the Department of "You Have Got To Be Kidding," comes the account of a Norwegian princess who really did sleep on a see if she was authentic or not.

Coney Island sauce for hot dogs? I'm in!  (From Vickie's Kitchen and Farm)

What if you don't get the 'thing' you really wanted?  (From Moneysaving Mom)

Make your own spray air freshener? My Abundant Life says sure.

What President Trump REALLY said to the Gold Star Widow. And it's not what most of the social media reported, either.

Two women and their dogs, rescued by the Navy after five months adrift at sea!

Restaurant-style meals you can make even better at home: 24 recipes, from barbecue ribs to tirimisu. (Thanks, Betty Crocker!)

Nine good financial hacks. Don't miss the extra links that lead you to yet more hacks. (From Budgets Are Sexy)

Frugality for very busy people with no time.  Lots of good stuff here.  (From Penniless Parenting) Speaking of:

It IS Just Stuff.  An enduring truth. (From Planting Our Pennies)

Flourless almond cake -- oh my. (From Hundred Dollars A Month)

Beautiful places in Ireland that the average tourist doesn't know about.  (From Irish Central)

A cougar visits a school principal and his wife in Woodinville, WA...nosy, or hungry?

Don't eat too much candy... and have a great week.

Presents...For Much Less

    Unless you're a bazillionaire (or spend like one), it's easy to look at the list of people you want to buy gifts for...      an...