Friday, October 17, 2008


OOPS - almost forgot! It's about time to give away more goodies! If you want to be entered in the drawing for the second installment of our "Year of Reading Dangerously" give-away, just say so in the comment section.


We serve it along with black eyed peas, which Tim loves. He hates the green peas. Yeah my grandmother led the life that many people today would like to, with some modifications like electricity! I never ever wanted to retire to the country, but with the economy the way it is I was wondering if it should be an option, with having chickens and a milk cow and small garden. Except that I do not think you save much when you have to build a pen for the chickens, feed them, worry about snakes etc. and the garden takes lots of water and fertilizer and sometimes you get nothing produced. So I think you are not saving much money or energy, just living a simpler life. My dad remembered the depression as just like any other time in his life, they were pretty much self sufficient on the farm, always poor but they did not realize it. They always had enough food. They did not worry about gas because they used horses, they did not have electricity, and they had a cistern to catch water. But it is also incredibly hard work. That is why my grandmother lived so long I believe . But we would all be whining today! The okra is good with a country style meal, like pork chops and black eyed peas. You must have corn bread with the okra gumbo! Now I am getting hungry!!! Let me know if you make the okra gumbo. paula

* * *


Yep, I bet it is hard, but if I have to choose between dumpster diving and being homeless in a big city, cause I lost everything I owned in the crash/war/hurricane/whatever, and being poor but not realizing it in the country? Well, I'd be more than happy to learn to milk that cow!


P.S. And I bet your grandmother never stressed out over whether she should do Atkins, Weight Watchers, or Jenny Craig, either, huh?


Hey Paula,

What kind of peas do you serve with that okra gumbo - black-eyed, or green? I've been reading so many great blogs lately about people who are trying to lead a simpler, more hands-on, crafty and frugal life - finally realizing that buy, buy, buy doesn't really make you happy. They are trying to grow a few vegetables, or buying from someone local who does, keeping a few chickens, learning to knit or sew, hanging clothes on the line to save energy, etc. So much of it reminds me of stories you have told about your grandmother. In fact, somewhere just the other day I was reading about making tomato chutney or chow-chow, and serving it over black-eyed or purple hull peas, and it hit me - "That's exactly what Paula always served us when she made one of her granny's down-home style meals! So many people are talking about the financial crisis and peak oil and global warming and we're all doomed, yada, yada, yada, but these simple-green-frugal folks are saying "Just use some common sense people!" I can't tell you how many times I've come across someone saying how much they were inspired by reading the "Little House on the Prairie Books" as a child, and I'm thinking maybe that's what's wrong with my family - no one ever read those books, and if any ancestors ever actually lived a simple, self-sufficient life, it's so far back that no one remembers it. So I'm going to stop in at the bookstore this weekend, and see if I can't pick up the whole set. I'm going to start at the beginning and work my way through them, see if I can't learn something!


P.S. Many thanks to calangil for the "Little House" image.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Simple pieces, with beautiful grain and texture...


Hey Snookums,

I got the latest Net Flix movie you ordered for me - Bloodsucking Babes From Burbank. Just couldn't get into it, though, so I sent it on back. Appreciate the thought though!

Your Precious Wifey


"The culprit is our spoiled-brat insistence on eating strawberries in November, apricots in January and apples in the spring...Would bloody Ralphie have a bloody coronary if he ate strawberries only at the times they grew within a thousand miles of his bloody little house?! Hardly. He might instead have the great pleasure you get from expectation; from waiting; a semblance of that special joy you feel on Christmas morning. The potential for this joy is lost when we can have anything we want anytime we want it."
Ferenc Mate

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Woohoo! Today I get to pick up my first order from Bountiful Sprout. One of the many reasons I am excited about this venture, is that I believe it's very important for people to get back in touch with where their food really comes from, and what all is involved in getting it to them. Only when they are fully aware of this, will they become good earth stewards. For instance, I became 100 times better at conserving water, when I was faced with the reality of a well that can go dry.

I got my first lesson in the hazards of farming, when I received this email last night:

Hey there- Snake in the hen house! I talked with Marianne Simmons, and we had to remove 5 dozen eggs. The board was first to lose them, and Tara, I'm sorry I shorted you one of your two.
See you all tomorrow,
Looking forward to it,

Too bad. No fritattas for me.

I was all excited about raising chickens and having fresh eggs at my fingertips when we bought this place, but then someone told me that you can't have chickens, without having snakes. Ummm...nevermind. And so, here's to you Marianne, heroine of the chicken coop! You go out there every single morning, and lift up chicken fannies, so that I don't have to. All Hail Marianne!

P.S. Thanks to repvet for the image.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


This morning, on MidLifeBloggers, I read:

On Money: MidLife Mommyblogger Meltdown

by msmeta of Adventures at Midlife

The Daily Beast, Tina Brown’s new excursion into tabloid online journalism, has an absolutely heart-wrenching collection of posts from women who have been slammed by the economic crisis. The last one, from a midlifer who calls herself The Accidental Housewife, really got to me:

The generations who survived the Great Depression were tough. They were resilient; they did not expect the government to bail them out of the hell that fell upon them…They boarded up their farms and loaded up their jalopies and headed out to find work. They did not stand around wringing their hands crying about what they didn’t have anymore they went out and worked. They were doers and savers and they made it.
My step-grandmother used to reuse her foil. She would smooth it out, wipe it off, fold it up and use it again and again until it eventually fell apart. My best friend’s grandmother would make a single chicken last through a week’s worth of meals. Each meal being different but made from that single chicken. They were resourceful. More important they MADE IT….
I am ashamed of my fellow baby boomers. I am ashamed that we have turned into such an entitled generation. I am ashamed that we have to have someone else make our morning coffee and we are too good or too busy to prepare our own dinner. That we feel entitled to drive vehicles that use more fuel in one week than a whole village in a third world country uses in a year.
So what do you say fellow boomers? Can we do it? Can we tighten our belts, knuckle down and use that knowledge that our forefathers and mothers gave us? Can we cook our own meals, repair our own roofs, make ourselves pay our own bills and not rely on the government to bail us out? I think we can. We just have to want to do it.

She captured much of my current angst. We as a generation have not been as careful as our parents. We’ve serially refinanced our homes and underfunded our retirements to pay for our lifestyles, and the payments are now due. Many boomers are spoiled and selfish and feel entitled, and some of us have passed those “values” on to our children. And we are all now in deep, deep kimchi.

But I am encouraged by some of the adjustments and accommodations and belt-tightening that I’m seeing around me: less driving, more brown-bag lunches, even a little more kindness and solicitude among my colleagues and neighbors. We are a well-educated generation with a lot of tools at our disposal. And one of those tools is the online communities we have built, which hold the promise of advising, supporting, sustaining and cheering us on (and up) during this bleak time.

Chins up, peeps. We’ll get through this.

Hill Country Hippie says "Ditto to them both!", and if you need advice or support, check out this new cooperative blogsite with numerous contributors:

Monday, October 13, 2008


I have gifts on my mind this morning. I finally realized it was past time for me to start my holiday list-making. I've got my husband's clan coming for Thanksgiving, so I've started a list of fun things they might enjoy doing while they are here, and I need to start thinking about meals that can please both our vegetarian, and Mr. Where's-the-Beef. But mainly I need to get started on my list of what to get everyone for Christmas. I would so love to be able to make a lot of my presents, but can't think of anything I could make, that anyone would actually want or use.

When I think back on all of my Christmas-Pasts - all the shopping I have done, gifts I have bought and wrapped - they are pretty much a blur to me now. The only things that really stand out in my memory are the very few times I actually made most of my presents. There was the year when I machine-appliqued sweatshirts for everyone. Then there was the one when I made my beautiful quilted tree-skirt, and made lap quilts for the kids and John's dad. Oh, and there was the time, when I first went nuts over gardening, that I was doing landscape designs for everyone, and putting together container gardens for them, or offering them my services as pruner and planter. (I was much younger and less arthritic then!) Out of more than 50 years of giving, I only remember 3 years distinctly? Sad!

The same holds true on all the gifts people have given to me. I'm sure there have been hundreds that have been thoughtfully purchased, much used and much appreciated, but for some reason, my mind has not been able to hold on to their images for long. Right now, as I sift back through the years, what are the things that jump out at me? The box full of Barbie clothes that Mimi made for my new doll; the matching red velvet dresses and corduroy bathrobes Mom sewed for me and my sisters; the wooden trundle bed Dad built for pre-teen me and the footstool he and my sister worked on together, and which is under my feet at this moment; the cradle, swing, rocking horse and circus wagon toy box that George made for my babies, and the doll house he built for me; the carved birds that Theda made for everyone in my family, Priscilla's Fimo creations and Megan's famous Christmas Hooch; the one dress Kathy sewed for me, even though she hates sewing; the times my kids planted all my seasonal color as a birthday gift to me, the beautiful shawl Lex knitted for me, and of course, the handmade and crayoned Valentine card John made for me once, that started out "To an oolie-droolie girl...", and that other one that contained a very memorable, original poem, which is, unfortunately, unprintable.

These are the gifts I remember. All those lovely, expensive, purchased gifts? Not so much, I'm afraid.

P.S. You can click on the to-do list, to enlarge it enough to read.

"Why not give our children a course in advertising; not how to do it, but how to defend against it...the greatest threat of advertising is that once it teaches our children that they can have salvation if they buy, they silently accept that they cannot have salvation unless they do...The formula is simple...You create an ad that will make us feel ever so slightly inadequate, then offer a product to make us whole again. Bingo!...we can be conned into buying even the most embarrassing crock of doo-doo within days." Ferenc Mate

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Please tell me I'm not the only one who does this! I don't have a PDA or anything like that, but I do have a little date book that stays open on my desk at all times. It's the only way I can keep track of my life. It's not that I am juggling numerous appointments each day, like some corporate types. It's just that if I get absorbed in one thing, I tend to forget everything else. So I need reminders sitting right in front of me, of any appointments for the week, deadlines to be met, and things I want to accomplish, etc. The spaces in this datebook are fairly small, so over the years I have developed the habit of abbreviating things, using acronyms, and using colored pencils to indicate importance. In general, this works well for me. But occasionally, I screw up royally.

For instance, take this week. Every day for the next four days, I have the initials ARW written on the page, in red. Red indicates "Don't you dare forget this!" It skips Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and then there it is again the following week on Sunday through Wednesday. ARW. In red. Trouble is, I can't for the life of me remember what ARW stands for. I have been wracking my brain all week, trying to remember why I wrote that. Then I enlisted my husband's assistance, when he arrived this weekend. In the end, he was more obsessed with figuring it out than I was, and will probably stew on it during his entire drive back to Houston.

I wish I could blame it on old age, but I've been like this my entire life. For instance, I'm forever putting something away in a safe place, so I will be able to find it when I need it, but then I forget where that safe place is. People see my lists and think I am a super-organized control freak, but actually they are a much needed coping mechanism for just getting by. If you come to a dinner party at my house, you will probably laugh, as does everyone else, when you see my list on the refrigerator door, of all the things I plan to serve that evening. If only you knew how many times I have been putting things away after a dinner party, only to discover that one of the main dishes was still sitting in the refrigerator, because I forgot to serve it!

So, this isn't the first time I have forgotten the meaning of one of my own abbreviations. They always come back to me eventually, so I'm not too worried. I know it doesn't have anything to do with The Bountiful Sprout, or with the on-line class I am taking, which are the only critical things going on right now, as far as I know. I'd feel better though, if it weren't written in red.