Monday, February 25, 2013

Rusty Springs, The Fine Art of Ball Squeezing, and The Envelope that Changed my Life.

People joke about the joys of Retail Therapy and I definitely get the joke....after all, who doesn't feel better after scoring  a pair of David Pliner boots on double markdown clearance?   I used to inhabit a world that was all about acquisition ---Power Shopping was kind of like a sport for me. My attitude toward money was a bit too cavalier because my life had been blessed with enough of it...I never went hungry and always had what I needed (and usually more!).  I had similarly situated friends and when we dropped the kidlets off at school we would  head to the mall and then Do Lunch.  Yeah, I know...weird.  Anywhoo, I was one of those idiots who figured if I had checks, then I had money. 

I shopped when we could afford it and I shopped when we couldn't afford it.   Feel free to judge me harshly...I deserve it.  My husband, a generous guy, was a good sport for a while.   He knew my demons, I knew his demons, but we love each other and endeavored to be tolerant.    However, there came a day many years ago when we experienced a period of interminable grumpiness.  Husband told me that I was "squeezing his balls" and that he "turned into an A*%# hole when someone squeezed his balls." 

Yikes!  So my SPENDING was what was causing his sour demeanor?  Good to know....

The Great Communicator handed me a copy of Dave Ramsey's book, The Total Money Makeover , which has just been updated and re-released.   I became a believer.  Seriously, the book changed my life.  The idea is that you don't spend more than you can afford, period.  I know, I know....pretty obvious concept, yet it is one that many folks still don't seem to get, even in these fiscally challenging times.  Dave Ramsey's system is brilliant, simple to execute, and even EASY to stick to, as it has turned out!  I set up a series of envelopes for the stuff that I spend money on,  "hair salon," "groceries," "crafts," etc,  fill 'em with the budgeted cash, and that's that.  When the envelopes are empty, they remain empty until the next pay day.  I am very visual and find that this works for me.

We have been using the envelopes for years and the system has enabled us to reduce our debt, save for the Farm of the Future, and given me the resources to become the Crazy Neighborhood Goat Lady.   Irrelevant side note:  "Quit Squeezing My Balls" has  become part of our "love language,"  to be used when one of us is starting to step out of bounds and a funny reminder is in order.  Better than a poke in the eye, I suppose! 


Tramp Art Sewing Box

An unexpected benefit to fiscal responsibility is that it has opened a new window for me creatively.  The back story:

I have always been a  fan of Tramp Art and am forever on a quest for it when scouring flea markets and yard sales.   During the depression years, money was scarce and folks were going hungry.  Hobos would travel by rail in search of work or a hand out.  Generally these fellows were NOT the homeless you see sleeping on street corners today, many of whom suffer from mental illness and/or drug addiction.  These long ago Tramps were often regular folk who found themselves in a bad way because of circumstances beyond their control.   They were hungry so they hopped a train and went looking for food.   Those individuals who were more fortunate frequently opened their homes to these itinerant travelers, offering a hot meal and place to sleep for the night. If they were lucky, the hobos might even get a few days work, as well.   Hand carved trinkets became a way for the Hobos to acknowledge the kindness of the hostess.  Of course, the hobos did not have an envelope marked "crafts", so they worked with what they had:  a pocket knife and reclaimed wood.  Today these Tramp Art wood carvings are highly collectible.

Since committing to the envelopes, I find myself trying to make do with what I have on hand, so that my craft money can go toward goat feed, expensive yarn, or a spectacular piece of Swarovski crystal.  It is funny how little I have to sacrifice in terms of beautiful artistry if I just think outside of the box.  For example,  I wanted to make a necklace to showcase some special pieces of Swarovski Crystal and some great vintage beads from a broken Miriam Haskell piece.  It looked pretty, but something was missing...

...until I remembered the Rusty Old Spring!  While working in the yard a few months ago I found a Rusty Old Spring hidden in the dirt. The architecture and patina of it really appealed to me so I  threw it in a drawer and forgot about it...until this necklace was percolating in my brain.  I am so delighted with the results and think that the Rusty Old Spring pulls it all together.  Affordable luxury...I like it!

The Swarovski crystal is showcased by found components!


A big wooden bowl on my counter has been filled with sweet potatoes.  I had big plans for 'em when I bought 'em, but those plans never materialized and time is not on my side.  I could not bear to toss them in the garbage, especially on the same day that I have been bragging about being all thrifty and such.  So, I started peeling sweet potatoes....and was rewarded with  two Sweet Potato and Goat Cheese Galettes for my freezer.  This is  a crazy easy recipe that is comprised primarily of Sweet Potatoes and Cheese....what could be bad?  Here ya go:

Sweet Potato and Goat Cheese Galette

Ingredients for one Galette:
4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced very thin
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup Gouda cheese, grated
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup goat cheese
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1-2 teaspoons dried thyme
3 Tablespoons olive oil 
tart pan or spring foam pan

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a pan and add chopped onions.  Cook until onions are softened, about 5 minutes.  Mix the cheese together in a bowl.  Grab another bowl and mix together the potatoes, the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, onion, and thyme.  
Spray tart pan with Pam or equivalent.  Start at the outer edge and cover the bottom of the tart pan with potato slices, overlapping a bit.  Make another ring of potato slices, working toward the center, until the bottom of the pan is covered.  Sprinkle with a bit of salt and then sprinkle with some cheese.  Add two more layers of potatoes, topping each layer with cheese.  Mmmm, Mmmmm...this is gonna be good!

Put pan on a cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil.  The tart pan will leak and make a mess, so make it easy on yourself by remembering the aluminum foil.  Bake for 35 minutes, then cover the top with a piece of foil so that the cheese doesn't totally burn.  Cook for another 10 minutes or so, until a fork can easily pierce through to the bottom.  Do not worry if the top is very brown, you want it to be kind of crunchy!   This freezes well and is DELICIOUS.

Uh Oh!  ...I just got a call from my neighbor who wanted to let me know that there were goats in her yard.  Gotta go!

Yup...they went to visit  my neighbor but at least they came running when I called!



  1. LOVE the juxtaposition of rusty spring, shiny beads and radiant crystal. Perfect!

  2. Thanks, Ashling! It is kind of like how life goes....a highly textured mix that works out in the end! By the way...I loved your needle felted landscape! I like to needle felt silly pillows featuring my dogs...they never fail to make me smile!