Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Return of the Conehead!!

Poor Jerry......He was neutered yesterday......

"But......but.....I THOUGHT YOU LIKED ME!!!!"

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Here we go again!

I thought I smelled smoke yesterday......today's headline on my "home page" online:

Hot, Dry Weather Ignites Fires Throughout SoCal

The big fires are nowhere near me. There was something small near me yesterday...but it's out now....... I sure hope they get these new ones contained soon.....

And our firefighters? I am so thankful for them!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Best Friends!

Happy Birthday to Us!

Monday was our birthday, Jackie and I! (She was the best present I got, the day I turned three years old!)

I celebrated over the weekend previous with Michael, my girls, Mr. Billy and even Mr. Patrick was able to make it!

Got a cute picture of Laurie and Billy. Billy was cold, and tucked his legs up under his sweatshirt......we decided it looked like Billy had boobs....

But the picture was still cute!

Patrick did the honors on the grill.

He and Mr. B. discussed the state of the union, and the price of gas and other manly things.....

Patrick got acquainted with Jerry.....

I had a pretty cake.....

(The only thing missing was Jackie's name.....we used to hate sharing a cake, but as her cute card said to me this year, "now we'd like nothing better than to share a cake!!")

And I got the neatest presents! Laurie and Billy got me fat quarters!!! Yay!!

I opened a present I've been saving and eyeing for several weeks, from Ms. Yvette! Sew cute! She made me the most adorable towels "for pretty" for my kitchen!!

Ms. Karene dropped by unexpectedly earlier in the day and surprised me with a card and the cutest material ever, possibly to be used for sewing machine covers.....sew appropriate!

She also gave me this lovely set of chimes which are going to be used in my office, I think, when I get my new valances and install my new shade, to spiffy it up!

(Sorry for the poor lighting in the picture!)

And Mr. B made my day with beautiful flowers, a card with "fat quarter$ in di$guise" inside, and just to make sure I had enough fabric, a gift certificate for M&L's!! Whooohooo!

My sister Jackie sent me the neatest stationary cards! These are based on quilt patterns, but the artist incorporates the pattern into a work of art and she has made stationary from them. They are so unusual and I love them!

And Jackie got a surprise from me. I think she likes it!

(Thank you Wiffie, for taking the great pictures while she unwrapped it and talked to me on the phone!!)

Happy Birthday to us!

Frugal Friday

I dug out my old yogurt maker last Friday, to see if it still worked. It worked so well, that I ebayed for another one, and now I have the ability to make 10 6-8 ounce plain yogurts at a time.

I'm loving it. And Karen likes it as well as the one she pays about a dollar apiece for at her Henry's Market.....

Just a bit over a half gallon of milk, heated briefly to 180 degrees, cooled until a clean pinkie can be inserted without screaming.....(actually, til its lukewarm!)

Add a few tablespoons of your last batch of yogurt to provide the "starter". (I used a few tablespoons of a store-bought plain yogurt the first time....just to get things started. I have read that every now and then I will need to buy another one and restart things....so I'll keep my eyes open for a brand that is on sale when the time comes.)

Pour into the containers, cap, and ignore for 8-10 hours. The longer, the more tart the flavor.

Yum! 10 containers for approximately $2.00 (if you get your milk by the gallon, and buy the house brand). I eat mine plain, to avoid spiking my blood sugar. I'm sure if I were exercising sufficiently, I could stir in any of the berries (strawberries, raspberries, etc,) and handle the additional few carbs just fine. Karen puts a tablespoon or two of fruit preserves in hers. We're keeping an eye out for coupons for the "all fruit, no sugar" type of preserves for her.

And there ain't nuthin' in my yogurt, but yogurt. No additives or preservatives, no added sugar.....it's just healthy and frugal!

Thank goodness it's the end of the week

It's been a humdinger of a week. But it's done. I celebrated by playing in the dirt this afternoon, and attempting to create some "pretty" in the backyard. Time will tell if I was successful.

I started with this.

I added some edging material from my favorite toy store, Home Depot.....

And then tossed in some flowers and some tomatoe plants. Actually, I slaved over it, for hours. I dug out the rocks, I broke up the soil, I added something really savory......

Yeah. Smells grand. So does the inside of the van it came home in! I added some vitamins to the soil.

I put some designed for flowers on one side, and some designed for vegetables on the other side, and I worked them in. Then I topped the whole shebang with more top soil and worked that in, and THEN I planted the flowers and the tomatoes.

And so, Feed the Hornworms 2008 is now underway. Maybe, just MAYBE, this year we'll manage to feed the humans also! I have two tomato plants in, the big kind. I'm hunting for two cherry tomato plants for Mr. B. They are his favorites.

I put a few flowers in some of the pots on the porch also.....

Ick. I need a manicure.

More posts will follow....

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Yay! I have a Finished Object! One less UFO in the sewing studio!!

I had sent my checkerboard quilt off to Cotie Campbell in Kansas, to be quilted. It came back Monday and it is sooooo pretty! I am so pleased with the quilting and also with the wonderful communication and responsiveness of Cotie herself. She was an absolute pleasure to do business with, and I feel like I made a new quilting friend in the process! I will definitely send her quilts to be long-arm quilted in the future.

Here is a link to Cotie's website. She has some gorgeous pictures there....and here is her webshots link. More beautiful quilts to see!

I cut 480+ inches of binding, pressed it, and brought my machine down to the kitchen table.

I stitched, and stitched, and stitched.

(Pay no mind to me, no make up, unshowered, and determined to finish this quilt today!)

And I stitched some more.

And it's done. Hopefully in the pictures below, you can see some of Cotie's awesome work - I wish my meandering looked that good!! Her stitches are perfectly even!

(This is only 1/5 of it, folded up and laid across the table.....)

(I used a decorative stitch to sew on the binding - I think my hands would have fallen off if I had tried to hand sew it, plus, I think the machine stitching is more durable!)

And I'm off to bed. It's almost tomorrow already! Sheesh!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Today will be a high of 70 degrees, low of 50 degrees! Yay! MUCH improved!

Here's a quickie recipe from Jackie that I tried and was YUMMY!

Mock Chicken Salad (fairly low carb and quite vegetarian and frugal!!)

1 can chickpeas, drained
Half a red bell pepper
Two stalks celery
Pickle relish to taste
Mayo, salt and pepper
(You can put in onion, but Jackie thought it might overpower all the other goodies!!)

Mash the chickpeas, and dice the pepper and celery. Blend all together with mayo, and season with salt and pepper as you like it. You now have mock chicken salad!

It was really good! I wrapped mine in a low carb wrap and there was a lot left to have in another wrap for lunch today!

Here's a recipe for Wiffie!

Tofu Jerky
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
3-4 tbsp liquid smoke (I think I will use less to start)
1/8 cup water
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder or 1 cloved crushed fresh garlic
1 tbsp ground black pepper
1 tsp honey (I will use one packet Splenda)
1 pound firm or extra firm tofu

Cut and drain tofu. Take a 1 pound cube, cut it in half, and then slice into 1/4 inch thick slices. Mix marinade ingredients and put slices and marinade into zip lock bag, and let soak overnight. Turn as often as hourly, while you are awake, to let flavor soak in.

Drain excess fluid (may be reused on next batch! I plan to make two batches with each marinade, at least, one batch per day). Dry tofu in food dehydrator. I have read that you can dry it outside on a hot day (turning hourly) or in a warm oven (200 degrees). I put my dehydrator on the back porch to prevent heating up the house, so will use that option. Dry until very chewy, but not crispy. Keeps indefinitely.

Also it's vegetarian, and I'm thinking about making it in quantity to have on hand in case of power failure, no time to cook healthy for myself, etc. I am going to experiment with flavors too, like ranch flavored, barbeque flavored, etc.

And one last thing......

A few weeks ago, I complained to daughter Karen that the car manufacturers in this country needed to do something about putting more color on the roads! She thought I was nuts, probably (still nothing new there!) as I pointed out all the boring cars around us on the freeway. Navy, tan, forest green, taupe, maroon, white, black, filthy, muddy, and the occasional 1966 Beetle in Easter Egg Green, to brighten things. I remarked to her that I wanted to see patterns. Flowers, like designer Michael Miller's stuff, for example:

and (gasp!) PAISLEY!!

Not to mention some exciting solids like PINK, DUSTY ROSE, CHOCOLATE BROWN WITH AQUA TRIM!!

Doncha think that would brighten up the highways and by-ways????

(Well, I'm a quilter and love colorful fabric. What do you expect?) I'm not a fan of batiks, but hey, even those would be a welcome change!

Today, I was passed on the 405 Freeway, right before I got on the 55 North.....by a car that made me shout out loud,


It was a Mercedes Benz in sort of an SUV model, a bit boxy, have no clue what it was. But baby, it made me smile. Because it was covered just like this one:


I am SO hoping this is a trend!!

Back to work for me!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Weather update!

We didn't know how miserable we were.....teehee!

Write up in the paper today lists:

Sample of Sunday's Highs

Anaheim Hills: 102 degrees
Placentia: 99 degrees
Orange: 95 degrees
Villa Park: 95 degrees
At the bottom of the alphabetic list, Seal Beach: 81 degrees. (that doesn't qualify as "hot" in my mind!)

Hmmmmm......I knew it was HOT....but not that hot!

(And I think Yvette has a good idea! Alaska sounds pretty good! As long as I had good lighting for my studio in the long dark winters!)

Still waiting for the cooling trend they are calling for, with its 30 degree drop!!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

It's finally cooling off tonight....

Of course, its 11:30 p.m.!!

Was this correct? I found it on my Yahoo page when I was sending some work to a client....This was supposedly the Anaheim forecast, including today's heat wave.

Today: High: 97°
Low: 58°
Monday: High: 81°
Low: 54°
Tuesday: High: 67°
Low: 52°
Wednesday: High: 72°
Low: 54°
Thursday: High: 79°
Low: 53°

That's quite a lot of variation.....but that 97 is a real surprise! I knew it was hot....just not that hot!

Needless to say, I'm looking forward to Tuesday!! :)

In Memorium......

Jack Sparrow got fresh water change yesterday, as usual......

He ate like a hungry pig one-eyed fish this morning....as usual.....

And if you listen closely, you will hear the sound of "Taps" in the distance...

Burial at sea will take place after he lies in state for approximately 15 minutes (long enough for Mr. B to participate in a respectful viewing, when he gets back from his walk!).

Wonder if this was the season's first heat related victim? It was awfully hot today.

In lieu of flowers....the family requests fat quarters be sent to the Jack Sparrow Memorial Stash.


Friday, April 11, 2008

Introducing Jerry....

I'm not a dog person. Not in the sense that Mr. B is. He lives, breathes, loves, pats, looks after, worries over, and spoils dogs. He reminds me that "dog" is "God" spelled backwards. He considers it as important to take care of "God's little critters" as some folks think it is important to tread gently on this planet, conserving the beauty of it, and the resources from it, for future generations. Dogs are his passion.

I like cats. I like fish. I like birds. I like dogs. Let me clarify. I like little, cute dogs. Like, puppies. I like dogs that are so small that if they get mad at me, I can stand up and the only body parts in danger are my shins. This all stems from a traumatic event in my childhood, at the tender age of 5 or 6, involving a raging German Shepherd that cornered me in a fenced yard and was barking in my face, so close that slobber was flying all over me and I faintly recall possibly wetting my pants. I've not been comfortable around big dogs ever since.

Which makes it all the more ironic that the dogs Mr. B has rescued over the years, have for the most part been fairly large. However, at some point a few years ago, I mentioned, with some degree of heat, "No more dogs!" And Mr. B did state clearly, that we would "never again have four, it is indeed too many." Well, when he made that statement, his beloved Cindy was nearing the Rainbow Bridge and after she died, we had "only" three.

Then Sadie entered the picture. Laurie was at that time contemplating moving out with a friend and she was given the dog by someone in one of her NA groups, as a "recovery" dog. She asked if she could keep her and then when the room mate situation didn't work out, Sadie stayed even longer. Now Laurie is with Billy and their full time jobs don't allow them to take the kind of care of Sadie that she needs, so she stays with us......and Laurie takes her on weekends for "Sadie 'n PJ parties". I'm not sure who looks forward to it more, Laurie, or Sadie! So, anyway, we're back to four.

I will be honest.....I was pretty steamed about that. I was steamed for a good while. Four dogs. Again. Then I just decided to try to be supportive and get over it. This is Michael's passion. He sometimes is late delivering packages, because he gets hung up at one of his stops, patting a dog. He sends money to a no-kill shelter here in town to help them purchase food for dogs that end up there, awaiting adoption.

(And it's not just dogs. He keeps the bird seed stocked up around here...."cos they're God's little critters too!" And I do enjoy the birds outside my office window. Despite severe allergies to cats, he picks up abandoned or hurt cats too, but those go straight to the vet, otherwise, he can't breathe. Literally.)

So I stopped belly-aching about having four. Or at least I cut down on the griping! I haven't stopped completely. I try not to, but I relapse weekly and spit nails when its time to do the floors around here......what a mess! Shaving the dogs sounds like a great idea, long about the time I finish the vacuuming up all the dog hair....

But they are his passion. Just like "cutting up perfectly good fabric into small pieces and sewing it back together again" is my passion. He supports me in this, made room for my sewing studio, and never complains about the cost of fabric. (Granted, my fabric never barks at him and wakes him from a sound sleep, panic-stricken, all sense of awareness racing from all four limbs, thundering through your heart and screeching to a pounding halt behind your eyeballs, where it blazes, red hot, for about 30 seconds while you recover from yet another episode of near Sudden Cardiac Death........but still, a passion is a passion. It is beyond reason!)

I cut back on the complaining, but I didn't change my mind about NOT WANTING MORE.

So when he called me three weeks ago, after having lunch with a friend who was moving/going through a lot.......and he said "I'm on the way home......would you please put all the dogs away?"

My heart dropped. I literally felt faint. I knew what that meant. He had found another abandoned, hurt, unwanted, abused, or sick dog and he was bringing it here. I started sputtering "no, Michael, I can't, WE CAN'T, no, no, no."

He just said again, "I know, but could you put the other dogs away?" That confirmed it....he had one, and it was coming for at least a visit. I tried backtracking and offering solutions......"Just til we can get it to a shelter? Just til we find the owner? Just til....."

His voice interrupted me, "it was on a highway, running between cars." That just broke my heart. And made me mad. Because he could have been killed trying to save the dog. Grrrrrrrrr.

Then an awful thought occurred to my formerly traumatized brain....."oh no, how BIG is it....?"

Long pause........

He said, "He takes up the whole back seat!"

I went ballistic. I was inconsolable. I don't recall details, but I know I verbalized every protest I could think of, at high speed, and high volume. I eventually hung up the phone, and I was angry, scared, teary, frustrated, sure I was being disrespected, and yet, when he had described how everyone else was just driving by this dog and ignoring it, collarless, in the middle of the highway.....I was glad he at least got it off the road.

I love animals. Darn it. Not dogs specifically, but animals in general. And a lot of them don't deserve what they get in life. The cruelty out there is unfathomable. He was in traffic. Running around in Four Lanes Of Traffic.

Again, I love animals. I just don't want to live in such close proximity to.....so MANY!!

I grabbed one of Max's food bowls and some food (Max is enormous) and a water bowl and one of our strongest leashes, and after putting all the dogs safely upstairs, I went out on the front porch to wait for Michael to arrive with The Beast.

The car pulled up and I couldn't see the dog at first. I reasoned that it was lying down across the back seat. Michael reached over to the seat beside him, and gathered his things, and then got out of the car. I thought he would open the back door and get out the dog. Instead he started walking towards me.

And I realized the dog was held in his hands. All of the dog. The dog was a pipsqueak. (Sneaky Smart man, that Michael.)

The dog was terrified too. He devoured a packet of food. He drank a lot of water. Then for the first hour all he did was dig his little face into our necks and sometimes hide his eyes.

He got a bath after I got a whiff of him close up......and he actually seemed to like it.

He finally allowed us to put him in a basket (all we could find), and he cowered in it......and finally slept, exhausted.

Michael ran off to the store and purchased a dog crate, because I was convinced Max would eat the little guy. This way, I reasoned, he would be safe until we could find him a home/shelter/option (i.e., Other Than Us!).

He loves his crate. He jumps in it willingly, and curls up in the new bed Karen got him from Ikea. I kept babbling about finding his owner (no tags, nothing online at any of the lost dog sites that even faintly resembled him). While I babbled, the rest of the household fell in love with him.

Yes, he's inside her jacket, all cozy....

Notice the "FedEx-purple" collar Mr. B bought for him?!

And then Sadie decided he was her new best friend.

They play for hours. They race around the yard and are practically inseparable.

When they're not racing, they are playing with tug toys.

We named him Jerry "for the time being." This happened the first day, when he was so skinny and undernourished his neck looked long in comparison to the rest of him. I said he looked like a giraffe.....Jerry the Giraffe.....and the name Jerry stuck.

He's not so skinny, now, three weeks later.

And I babbled less and less about finding him a home. Karene came over and fell in love with him......

He's getting the hang of the potty training, mostly. Then he chewed a cord on my transcription pedal ($111.00 to replace) and I let him live........And I let Michael live too.

Slowly it began to dawn on me......

Jerry was home. All 8 pounds of him.

Frugal Friday

Mr. B and I try to make a game out of being frugal. We're constantly trying to come up with more and better ways to shave our expenses. The competition is friendly and the outcome is mutually beneficial!!

One example recently was homemade dog treats. Michael loves giving the dogs a treat at random times, and when you have as many as we have, that gets pricey.

So I looked for recipes to make some of our own! My comparison price was $4.19 for a large box (26 ounces) of a certain nationally known brand, by far not the most expensive around, just a good basic bone shaped dog biscuit.

My results? These were mixed up in about four minutes, rolled out between waxed paper sheets in about four minutes, and cut/baked while I did the dishes, and cleaned up the kitchen from dinner.

This is only half of them. By the time I got around to taking the picture, they were half gone. And yes, I had fun using a bone-shaped cutter, fire hydrant-shaped cutter and just for giggles, a kitty-shaped cutter! The kicker? ALL the dogs love them, whereas two were not really fond of the national brand. No additives or preservatives.....just basic ingredients like whole wheat flour, peanut butter, etc. Total expenditure was about $1.50 (plus a few cents for oven heating?) and total weight was a lot more than the 26 ounce box from the store. Yay! Score!

Mr. B is fond of stopping by Ralph's grocery store on his way home, certain days of the week. He knows when they are going to check the meat and he gets more than 50% off on steaks those days. This is perfectly good meat. There is still a day or two left on the "sell by" label and he walks in the front door with it, and I walk out the back door with it, and throw it on the grill! Yummy! Score!

Well, here's a Frugal Friday idea! I was pondering ways to $ave a few weeks ago and at the time I was washing a load of rags that I had been using for the Never. Ending. Cabinet. Project. in the kitchen. (Yes, I still have the same 8 cabinet doors left to go.....I was so burned out on cabinets I could not even contemplate them for a couple of weeks!)

I had purchased two 24-packs of the white terry cloth towels you can get at Home Depot or Sam's or Costco (sometimes in the automotive department). These are about a foot square, plain white, with hemmed edges. I gave $4.98 for each 24 pack.

These were being used to slather on stain, or scrub off the stripping solution, by the dozen. They were stained and it didn't matter, cos they were my Never-Ending Cabinet Project rags. But it occurred to me, that I could use the same type of rags in the kitchen, in place of paper towels.

Cute little tea towels just don't cut it in my house. I love, Love, LOVE, having a couple to hang on the stove handle, or my little shelf that has a towel rack under it, and they look so pretty. But I really just can't use pretty ones for actual counter scrubbing, mess cleaning, range top cleanup, refrigerator cleaning, etc. It ruins them and they don't really clean as well, anyway.

This was one of my better ideas! I really ran with this one. Michael initially thought I was nuts. (nothing new there!) Then he thought about it and started grinning. And yes, I know a lot of folks will think I've gone over the edge (nothing new there, either!), but hey, when you are married to someone who regularly walks in the door looking like Santa Claus with huge plastic bags over his shoulders, filled with dozens of ......

rolls of toilet paper bought at a significant savings......

Yeah. I'm probably over the edge. I'm a little weird and that's just fine! (Then again, those of you who have been doing this for a long time will probably wonder why it took me so long to think of this.)

I went back to the store and bought another two 24-packs of terry towels. $4.98 x 2. I used a Walmart trashcan which has a plastic removable bucket-like liner inside.

Pay no attention to the state of the pantry.....we certainly don't!!

Ikea drying rack (I Kan Even Afford it! About $16.00)

I put the paper towel holder on the opposite side of the kitchen from the sink, and I put a neatly folded stack of these little terry towels where the paper towels had been. When they are used and judged "dirty", they go in the trashcan in the pantry. They sit all week and I have yet to smell anything mildewy. Saturday or Sunday, I toss the week's towels in the washer with HOT water and detergent and bleach. I let them soak about an hour and then wash them.

Then they go to the "solar dryer", the rack from Ikea. Took me about 5 minutes to hang them, each folded in half, on the rack....I filled the rack by the time I was done. The ones on the right are a bit older but the ones I've been bleaching and drying in the California sunshine each week have stayed nice and white!

When they were dry, there was no folding to do, which would have been necessary if I had used the real dryer. I plucked each folded towel off the rack with one hand, stacking them in my other hand and off they went to the cabinet to await use.

Now. The fun part in this case is the math.

(And while math usually makes me throw up, this IS fun.) I spent roughly $26.00 on towels and rack. Not even counting the benefit of having the rack to dry other clothes, which I do, the total expenditure was $26.00.

I had been spending about $15.00 monthly on giant packs of paper towels from the warehouse club. I just checked online and the price ranged from $12.28 to $17.53. So roughly $15.00 a month X 12 months a year. $180.00. Minus the $26.00 start up costs for the whole idea.

I'm saving $154.00 a year by not buying paper towels. And even if you buy ONE 12 pack to have on hand (1 roll a month) for jobs that people just don't want to use the terry towels for (window/mirror cleaning), or for guests who may think you have definitely lost it if they find out you "don't believe in paper towels any more", still leaves a net savings of $139.00 a year.

And to drive the point home to myself in terms I understand?


Every year! I'll probably have to buy a new towels once a year. The rack should last many years. My only ongoing cost is the energy used for one load of rag laundry weekly. Less than a cost of a can of soda.

Yes. Ahem. I knew you'd understand.

Okay, tag! You're It! Tell me your latest frugal idea!