Reading List #4, & Where’s the Walleye?

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I was craving walleye for dinner so I went to the drive-through at Culver’s. Turns out that they only have walleye during Lent. What is the link between Jesus and walleye? Did the loaves and fishes miracle consist of butter buns and walleyes? Were there walleyes in the Sea of Galilee? Because I know there are walleyes in Minnesota; it’s our state fish. Harumph, no walleye, indeed.

I had the North Atlantic cod instead, and it was excellent. Take that, Jesus.


Back to the cozy mysteries. This week it’s the Jolene Jackson mysteries. Jolene gets a call from her mother, Lucille, who’s in jail on suspicion of murder. Jolene doesn’t want to return to her home town of Kickapoo, Texas, but she has to rescue Lucille. Which also means she has to face her handsome, sexy high school sweetheart, Jerry Don Parker.

Hot Enough to Kill (A Jolene Jackson Mystery Book 1)

Dead Man Falls (A Jolene Jackson Mystery Book 2)

Lots of humor and a little romance, just the way I like them.

Stay tuned…

Note to readers: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using the link (whether it’s the product I recommend or another). Thanks for helping me earn margarita money!





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Hutch drawers.

Hutch drawers.

I decided to work on the hutch drawers, which was probably a mistake. After all, I still have a mess on the dining room table and the dining room floor. Sometimes it’s nice to take on an easily finished task, though.

The drawers were full of craft stuff, besides the usual dining room stuff. The left drawer was jam-packed with adhesives of every type, and the right drawer was full of paper scraps.

The paper scraps included empty tea bags. There’s a craft, started by a Dutch woman, called tea bag folding. She started using tea bags to make flowers and stars that can be used to embellish cards or scrapbooks.

Cleaning out the drawers inspired me to make a few tea bag folding stars.

Tea bag folding.

Tea bag folding.

Most of the stars are made from special tea bag folding paper, but the one shown on the yellow background is actually made from tea bags that I had saved.

Here are links to tea bag folding books at Amazon. Some may be out of print, but still available from other sellers. It’s a fun craft to do while watching TV.

Which reminds me, I have a TV running now! I was having trouble setting up my Amazon Fire TV , because of an internet problem. I called my internet provider and finally got through to a human in India by continuously pressing zero. Bill (What? I’m sure lots of Indians are named Bill) got my internet fixed and my Amazon Fire TV up and running.

Yay! Now I can watch “Big Bang Theory” until my eyeballs bleed!

Stay tuned…

p.s. I reached 231 bags by finishing off a donation box and dropping that and an end table (from the garage) at Goodwill.

p.p.s. I linked this to Cozy Little House, I Heart Organizing, and to Home Stories A to Z.

Note to readers: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using the link (whether it’s the product I recommend or another). Thanks for helping me earn margarita money!



229, & Timing Weekend Maintenance

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It recently occurred to me that I’ve never mentioned why I time my weekly maintenance cleaning. It’s because I get overwhelmed by the mess and think it’s going to take forever, so I don’t want to start. I figure that if I time how long it takes to tidy a room, it will eventually train my brain to not be so overwhelmed.

If I tidy up every weekend, it can take as little as 5 minutes for a room to look lovely again. If I skip for a week (or two or three), it can take over an hour to get a room looking decent again.

When I was little, before my Dad built us a triple-decker bunk bed, I shared a room with No.2 Sis, No.4 Sis, and No.7 Sis. No.2 and No.4 each had their own bed. No. 7 had the top bunk in a low bunk bed, and I had a trundle bed that pulled out from under the low bunk.

There was not nearly enough storage space, and we were all pretty unsupervised, so the bedroom was always a huge, HUGE mess. It was overwhelmingly, mind-boggling messy.

About once a year Mom strong-armed us into cleaning our room. It was usually right before Christmas, so Mom could threaten us with the prospect of no gifts if we failed to comply.

We’d scurry around, stuffing things into the tiny, shared closet and the inadequate dressers. When there was no more room to squeeze anything else in, the older sisters pulled out my trundle bed and piled it high with stuff, and shoved the bed back under it’s companion bunk.

I was threatened with death if I moved anything off the trundle bed. Then someone would call Mom upstairs; she’d inspect the room, and give the go-ahead for Christmas.

Meanwhile, I spent the next week or so sleeping on clothes, toys and other crap. The wire hangers were the worst, but I took death threats pretty seriously. Eventually, the floor would fill up again, and I could shove the junk off my bed to join the piles.

So, my brain is now overwhelmed by mess. I become immobilized, and hopeless. It’s called “learned helplessness”. Thank you, Psych 101 class.


Kitchen: 25 minutes to unload and load dishwasher, scrub the Foreman Grill, clear and wipe counters, and go through a big pile of mail and craft paper scraps. I came up with a whole bag of recycling, which brings my bag count to 229.

I also cleaned up this messy candle holder with this technique I found on Made From Pinterest. I didn’t have any cleaning vinegar, so I used regular white vinegar. Big improvement, so it’s going into the on-going donation box instead of the garbage.



lime deposits removed

Cleaned up candle holder.

Stay tuned…



Reading List #3, & Decluttering Books Reviewed

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If you’ve never read Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books, you must start now! They’re laugh out loud funny! Stephanie Plum is a klutzy, hapless, gun-averse bail bondswoman (bounty hunter) who has a really bad habit of blowing up cars and falling down stairs. She’s also juggling the affections of two VERY hot and sexy guys. I started at “One For The Money” a few years ago and worked my way up to “Takedown Twenty” this week. I’m saving “Top Secret Twenty-one” for a day when I really need a lift.

I highly recommend all twenty-one of the books (plus a few holiday novellas), but I won’t list them all for you. Click on “Takedown Twenty” and you’ll be able to find the rest.

I also read a few organizing books that I’ll review for you.

Declutter Your Life: Quick and Easy Tips for Busy People by Jenny Davis

Amazon gives this book 4.5 out of 5 stars. I really got the feeling the author understood the causes and costs of having a lot of clutter in your life, and had a good process laid out for dealing with it. She not only tackled clutter room by room, but she also gave tips on dealing with paper and electronic clutter.

She did say proceed at your own pace, but I got the feeling she’d be surprised I’m still decluttering after a year. What can I say? I’m slow, and my hoard was huge. Also, I think her idea of using seven (seven!) sorting boxes is excessive. Other than that, I recommend this book.

Home Organization For a Stress Free Life: Organize Your Home and Eliminate Stress From Your Life in the Process by Alice Richards

Amazon gives this book 5 out of 5 stars. There were a lot of tips about how to organize each room in your house, but most of it just sounded like “buy more shelves”. Maybe it’s just beyond my abilities right now, because I’m still decluttering. I don’t recommend this book if you’re looking for help on how to decrease the clutter.

Declutter: How To Organize Your Life, Maximize Your Productivity, and Enjoy a Clutter-Free Life by Jennifer S. Edwards

Amazon gives this book 4.5 out of 5 stars. This book was pretty short, so it didn’t get into the causes and cures of clutter too deeply. It did give a lot of tips, however, on how to break the sometimes overwhelming job of decluttering into smaller tasks.  The author also gave a lot of organizing tips that I haven’t heard anywhere else. The best part is, she recommended using two containers to sort objects; one is for trash and one is for donations. That’s WAY more my speed than the seven boxes. I recommend this book.

Stay tuned…

Note to readers: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using the link (whether it’s the product I recommend or another). Thanks for helping me earn margarita money!


Money is Dirty (But I Like It Anyway)

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Money has felt a little tight this week, what with holiday gifts and food to be bought, so I decided to cash in my change jar. It’s pretty full, so it’s time.

First I had to sort through each and every coin, to weed out the Canadians that make it across the border. It’s surprising how hard it is to tell Queen Elizabeth from Abe Lincoln when you’re trying to sort through hundreds of coins in a hurry. No offense to the Queen, of course.

It’s also surprising to see how dirty some of these coins are, especially the pennies. Whenever I see a penny on the ground or in a parking lot, I pick it up, no matter how filthy it is. Money is money, after all.

Once I gave a cashier a ten dollar bill for a $9.99 tab, and he asked if I wanted the penny in change. I said, “Yes! You know if you collect a hundred of these they’re worth a dollar?” The look on his face reminded me that some people don’t think I’m funny.


Dirty money.

Sorting through the jar, I did find a pile of Canadian coins. I also found a few Irish coins, and one Euro. In addition, I found two wheat pennies (I saved those), two safety pins, and two earring backs.

Seeing those foreign coins reminded me of a trip to England I took with No.1 Sis and No.2 Sis. In a London subway, a homeless-looking panhandler asked us for spare change. No.1 Sis generously put the biggest coin she had into his hat. The panhandler politely thanked her and said, “God bless”. I was very impressed with him, seeing as how No.1 Sis had just given him a half-penny.

You know if you collect two hundred of those, it’s worth a pound.

Stay tuned…

p.s. The change jar held $112.08, not counting 2 wheat pennies and a damaged penny the machine rejected.

p.s. I linked this to Cozy Little House.


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No.2 Sis called and asked me to bring my jewelry making tools and findings to her house on Sunday. She has a piece of jewelry that needs a little modification. No problem, I believe the jewelry making supplies are on the bottom layer of the deeply buried dining room table. I spent an hour or so on Saturday digging through the mess.

Dining room, before it got even worse.

Dining room, before it got even worse.

I didn’t take a picture right before tidying up, because I remembered I had this “before” shot. Now that I look at it though, I realize the piles had gotten much deeper by the time I started clearing the table.

Improving, but more work to do.

Improving, but more work to do.

I can’t say that the dining room is now clean, but I managed to sort everything into piles and boxes. I was able to find everything I needed to make a lovely little tool kit. I feel like an old-time doctor, going on a house call with my black medical bag.

Jewelry repair kit

Have tools, will travel.

And I found this. Ewww! If I can remove the lime buildup, I’ll donate it. If not, it goes in the garbage.



I also did weekend maintenance in the Queen bedroom: 10 minutes to put away laundry and pick up.

I filled 2 bags of recycling. That brings my count to 228.

Stay tuned…

226, Part 2

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Thursday was the big holiday potluck at “The Company” so, of course, I spent all of Wednesday evening slaving over a hot stove. Actually, even though my cooking has been improving, I wimped out. I brought napkins to the potluck. I really need to have have more confidence in myself! Next year I’m going to bring a souffle, or an etouffe, or paper cups.

I ate WAY too much sugar at the potluck, and I’m having difficulty stopping. I have at least two more parties to attend before Christmas is over. They’re both at No.2 Sis’s house, which is where I weigh myself. Maybe if I weigh myself before starting on the food, it will help me stay in control.

Why don’t I have a scale at my house, you may wonder? Because I get crazy weird obsessive and weigh myself every few minutes if I have an easily accessible scale. Paints an optimistic picture of my self-control, doesn’t it? I’m doomed.

Today, Friday, I had a manicure and pedicure appointment. I bought the mani/pedi from Groupon, because it was half price. But it was in Wisconsin! In a different state! I thought I could drive it a little (lot) for such a good deal. Penny wise, pound foolish. Including travel time, it took two and a half hours.  But my digits are ravishing in Raspberry Ripple. Note to self: Don’t buy out of state services (fool).

I should be either decluttering or starting my weekend maintenance cleaning, but I’m a little wiped out. I haven’t done this in a long time, but I’m going to draw Tarot cards to see where to focus.

WOO-WOO ALERT (Tarot reading ahead):

Should I do maintenance on the Queen bed and bath? Prince of pentacles. Slow and steady work pays off.

Should I do maintenance on the living room (which I ignored last weekend)? Sun. Brilliant success!

Should I do maintenance on the kitchen? Prince of wands. Oooh, passion and creativity. Maybe I WILL try an etouffe!

Should I start decluttering the dining room? Chariot. Bold advances will be made!

Should I continue decluttering the Studio? Priest. Inspiration.

So the answer is…..get off your full and generous bottom, and do SOMETHING! They all turn out well, but the Sun was the highest card pulled, so it’s time to do the weekend maintenance on the living room.


I got the living room cleaned, but I didn’t time it. I also sprinkled a few Xmas decorations around. I haven’t done that in years! It was a brilliant success!

Blue and silver mantel.

Blue and silver mantel.

crocheted ornaments

Crocheted by Step-Mom

ceramic Santa Claus

Santas made by No.2 Sis

Christmas ornaments

Bowl of bling

Stay tuned…

p.s. I linked this to Cozy Little House.




Reading List #2, & Vacation Plans

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My boss at “The Company” told us that we all had to tentatively schedule our vacation times for 2015. He figures this will help him project man/woman hours we have available and compare it to how much work we have in-house.

Let’s see, an eastern Mediterranean cruise in January, a fly-in canoe trip up in northern Canada in May, and a Kenyan safari in September. Oh, seriously, you want our real plans? Sigh. Las Vegas in January, Nashville in May, and Seattle in September. I really can’t take an international trip until I pay off my credit card. I’m not even sure I can afford to take the domestic trips.

I love, love, LOVE to travel abroad, but I have to admit, the plane rides are less than comfortable. And the airlines do tend to lose my luggage. And boats and buses give me motion sickness. And I can’t really eat foreign food (I’ve learned to say ham & cheese sandwich in several languages). But, really, I can’t wait to take another international trip! I’m going as soon as I hit zero balance on the card!


As I’ve said before, I love cozy mysteries. The series I’ve been reading this week is the Dusty Deals Mysteries. I read the first one a while back, then read the rest this week. The series is about Lucy, a 30ish, single, crime reporter turned antiques dealer, in Helena, Montana. Again, lots of humor and a little romance, in addition to the mystery in each book.

1. Loose Screw: Dusty Deals Mystery Book 1

2. Cut Loose: Dusty Deals Mystery Book 2

3. Loosey Goosey: Dusty Deals Mystery Book 3

4. Let Loose: Dusty Deals Mystery Book 4

5. Lucy and the Valentine Verdict: Dusty Deals Book 4.5 (a novella)

You can save some money by buying the first three books as a set:

Loose and Lethal: Dusty Deals Mystery Series Box Set: Books 1-3

I also read George Takei’s book on how he came to be an internet sensation. If you’re an old Geek Orthodox like I am, you’ll remember him as “Sulu” on the original Star Trek.

Oh Myyy- There Goes the Internet (Life, the Internet and Everything, Book 1)

I like to intersperse my humor reading with a little spiritual exploration. Actually, this spiritual book has a good bit of humor, too, which makes it especially entertaining and inspiring.

The Top Ten Things Dead People Want to Tell You

Stay tuned…

Note to readers: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using the link (whether it’s the product I recommend or another). Thanks for helping me earn margarita money!





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Oh dear. I’ve been back on heavy carbohydrates all week. It was my birthday a week ago and I dined with 5 different friends over the week (and I had to have dessert…it was my birthday!). I guess I could have gotten together with all of them at once, but I don’t like crowds. Hell, I wouldn’t even get together with my sisters all at once, but we need 5 of us to play canasta. 4 to play, 1 to serve drinks.

Besides getting back on the lo-carb regimen, I’ve decided to spend a little time each weekend to do some maintenance on previously decluttered rooms. I hope that a little attention will keep these rooms from backsliding too much while I continue to work on seriously cluttered areas. My BFF “T” cleaned last week, so I don’t have to do any scrubbing or dusting (ever), but she leaves my piles of junk for me to figure out (as she should).


Queen Closet: 5 minutes to put the last of the larger pants in a bag for Goodwill, arrange shirts by sleeve length, and clear top of  dresser. I was down to 2 pairs of pants that fit me, so I went to Goodwill and shopped, instead of just dropping off bags. I bought a pristine pair of blue jeans and black dress pants, and a pair of olive green Levi’s with the tags still on! Total clothing expenditure: $21. Sweet!

Queen Bath: 5 minutes to pick up jewelry, scarves and makeup.

Queen Bedroom: 10 minutes to put away clean clothes, clear the nightstands, and make the bed.

Living Room: Um, didn’t get to the living room (again).

Kitchen: 20ish minutes to clear the counters and load the dishwasher. I did some of this while cooking and some after cooking a batch of food. I made tuna stuffed peppers (recipe was for salmon, but I only had tuna) and chicken parmesan. The chicken recipe said simmer in sauce for 4 minutes, but my chicken breasts were SO fat, I mean practically spherical, so I simmered them for 12 minutes, checking often to make sure I didn’t simmer all the sauce away.

Easy peasy recipes and they were quite tasty. The recipes are from Low Carb Meals in Minutes, which seems to be only available used on Amazon.

Also, I made the chicken in my new Dutch oven, it’s maiden recipe! It worked great and cleaned up easily. It’s one of my newest kitchen additions.

dutch oven, low carb cookbook

Still Life with Cookbook

I worked in the Studio for a while, decluttering, and I filled a bag of recycling. With the bag of clothes for Goodwill, I’m up to 226 bags. Thank goddess, I broke the 224 slump.

Stay tuned…

Note to readers: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using the link (whether it’s the product I recommend or another). Thanks for helping me earn margarita money!

How to Write Out Christmas Cards

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Writing out Christmas cards can be a daunting task. Here’s how I make it easy and fun.

1. Write a Christmas letter. That way you can just write “Dear So-and-So” (not literally) at the beginning and “Merry Christmas” at the end. You don’t have to hand write the highlights of the year in every card. Print the letter up on pretty holiday paper.

2. Gather your cards and supplies on the bed. Supplies include your fluffiest robe and favorite slippers. Cat is optional.

Christmas card writing supplies.

Christmas card writing supplies.

3. Brew a pot of tea. Schnapps adds a little zing.

A spot of tea.

A spot of tea.

4. Put on your favorite Christmas movie. It’s a Wonderful Life , A Christmas Carol, the Patrick Stewart version, or Elf. If none of these are your favorite, then I don’t think we can be friends. Okay, I’ll include A Christmas Story, but that’s it.

5. Write out the cards. Remember, minimal greetings, let the letter do the talking.

6. Address, add the return address label (which may help to hold the fatter cards shut if you stick the label across the back of the envelope), and add your Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer stamp.

Rudolph stamps.

Rudolph stamps.

You’re done when the cards are all made out, OR the movie is over, OR the Schnapps is gone. Really, there are limits.

I don’t think we’re surprised who really ended up with the fluffy robe, are we?

Cat on robe.

Bella gets the fluffy robe.

Stay tuned…

p.s. I linked this to Classy Clutter.

And to Cozy Little House.

And to Savvy Southern Style.

And to Fluster Buster.

And Oh My- Creative.

Note to readers: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using the link (whether it’s the product I recommend or another). Thanks for helping me earn margarita money!