Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Tradition of Irish Song

I write these posts a couple of weeks in advance.  This post is scheduled for the day that I have set to finish and finalize my book!!  I will be publishing to "CreateSpace" who will print on demand and sell me bulk copies to sell on my own.  I hired my graphics person, Greg Baumgardner today (Feb 9) and he's on for creating a book cover.  I am really really super excited about this.  I really hope we are uploading the entire book and it will be available in just a few more days!!!

Friday, February 20, 2015


Do not trust mornings.  Almost everyone wakes up feeling groggy and many wake up flat out depressed.  Why?  Your blood pressure is low.  Low blood pressure has the same effect as depression.  In a clinical study I did, I was able to begin predicting what my blood pressure would register in the morning by how able or unable I was to laugh at things.  Imagine, me not being able to laugh.  I found that first thing upon waking up, when I felt depressed, when nothing was funny, my blood pressure was low - the worse I felt, the less funny things were, the lower the reading.  As soon as I ate breakfast and got moving, I would come around.  Sometimes we wake up feeling depressed and we believe we are depressed.  We judge our entire psychological well-being in the first hour of the day. Instead of getting moving, looking for things to laugh at, eating a decent meal, we wallow in bed all day.  Some days that is completely appropriate, but I challenge you to imagine that it is only your blood pressure.  Get up, get moving, actively look for something interesting or funny, eat something healthy.  For me, it helps a lot to realize that there is a physical, ordinary reason for feeling down in the morning.

It helps me find a way to move past that and get to the good part of the day.  Since realizing this I have a morning routine that works very well for me.  I wake up and talk to the cat, and I take my time getting up out of bed.  Low blood pressure can also cause that black out feeling when you stand too fast, so be careful.  I get up, feed the cat, make coffee and start a timer for 50 minutes of crafting time.  I plan the activity the night before so that I don't have to think, I just start.  I craft and drink one cup of coffee.  Some mornings, I feel too depressed to craft.  I craft anyway.  After the 50 minutes, I'm usually awake enough to make breakfast and have a second cup of coffee.  After breakfast, I am usually ready to take on the day.  I make absolutely no judgements about how I feel until after breakfast and this has made a huge difference in my life.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Uncooked Flour Tortillas

One of my favorite things on this planet is HEB's UNCOOKED flour tortillas.  I find them in Austin stores in the refrigerated area.  They say to just cook them in a pan, and that works just fine, but I discovered a way to take one of my favorite things and turn it into food-gold.

Photo borrowed from:http://www.masalamexicana.com/recipes/2014/12/5/saag-enchiladas

Save a small amount of fairly clean bacon grease.  Use the tiniest dab of bacon grease to grease the pan before placing the tortilla in the pan.  Put the tortilla in and make sure it greases and immediately flip it so that both sides get some grease.  Now let the cooking happen.  When it poofs, flip it and let it poof again.  Heaven.  Absolute food heaven.

I love this so much that I ration them.  I make three and only three at a time.  Sometimes I only add cheese or butter and cinnamon.  Sometimes I make tacos.  Whatever you do with them, your food will be come magical.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

License Plate shingles

I plan to shingle the roof and tile the walls of the shower in my new shower house.  This is not a unique idea - I did not come up with it.  This idea has been taking up space in my brain since the day I saw pictures of Dan Phillip's license plate house.  Dan of Phoenix Commotion builds homes in Huntsville, TX out of all sorts of recyclable materials.  He is a major innovator and inspirational force amongst those of us who love using abnormal building materials.

Here is mine, so far:

Monday, February 09, 2015

Demolition & Construction

My water well pump was housed in a dog-house-like shack.  I have wanted to remove that and build an 8 foot by 8 foot structure to house the well and a shower house and a garden tools storage space.

Day one proved that the people who built this showed up with a 12 pack of beer, a bag of miscellaneous nails and screws and began throwing things together.  There was an under eave that was attached only by a few nails to one of the rafters...  it was kind of weird.  I managed to successfully tear up about half of the shack in 3 hours.

Day 2, I thought I would approach the remainder with a saws-all.  The walls were proving difficult to remove because nails were used in the middle as well as around the edge and along the bottom.  It took me about 5 minutes to hate the saws-all.  I have a lot of tools.  This one may be free to good home soon.  I went back to my slow-and-steady-wins-the-race methods and had the thing down to the studs and cleaned up in about 2 hours.

Day 3:  I set the cinderblock supports and floor joists.  I have a ton of 2 X 6 boards from friends and from the awning that used to be over the front porch.  Even though this is a small structure and doesn't really need 2X6 floor joists, that's what it got!

Day 4: Rainy and cold.  Boooooooo...

Day 5: Kate Cofrin and Kim Tucker came out to the ranch and pulled apart all of the wood from the old awning of the house.  I cut the boards as they cleared them for use as the floor.  Together we installed the floor. 

Day 6: We framed.  We started with the wall that has the window but is otherwise one full complete wall, and filled in the places around the water well frame.  The wall space we are sitting in is the wall where the door will be.  I don't have the door yet and so without a door to measure, we chose not to build that wall until I have a door.

To be continued!!

Friday, February 06, 2015

Singing Telegrams

I started a singing telegram business in Austin many years ago, let's say 10 years ago.  When I went on the road full time, I contracted the telegrams to my friend and fellow performer, Mardi.  She is fabulous and even though I owned the business, she constantly had new ideas and wanted to add costumes and acts.  As it seemed clear that my career was moving in a travel direction, I decided to sell the website to Mardi as it was really the only concrete investment.  She now owns and operates Singing Telegrams of Austin.  When she goes on vacation or at busy times like Valentine's Day, she lets me do telegrams for her.  With Valentine's Day approaching quickly, I'd like to offer a fun memorable way to say "I love you."  Mardi offers a Kermit the Frog and a Gorilla Valentine telegram.  We both will also be delivering classic telegrams in semi-formal attire.

Call Mardi or myself and schedule your telegram soon!!!
In case you forgot how to reach me:  Email or call 512-905-2783

Tuesday, February 03, 2015


I organize homes, offices, and I scan documents and photos.  If you're overwhelmed or you have a job you would simply like to turn over to someone else and just walk away, give me a call.  I work side by side with clients and I also have situations where clients just let me loose on the chaos.  Visit the website www.cluttercalmer.com or the blog virtuallytreasured.blogspot.com for ideas...  and give me a call.