Saturday, March 14, 2009


Notice anything different?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Well what do you know? Seems they've come up with a new name for doing just what we've been talking about on our blogs - blogs like Down to Earth, Redneck Mother, Beauty that Moves, and Eyes of Wonder - for some time now. It's called "insourcing." I'm thinking there must be a whole lot more people jumping on board than we realized, if they had to coin a special phrase for it.

According to Ylan Q. Mui at the Washington Post, the economic downturn is forcing America's households to learn a tough lesson: how to fend for themselves. Wal-Mart is reporting a 30% increase in sales of starter sewing kits, and Proctor & Gamble has had many more people calling their hotline, wanting to know how to dye their hair at home. Fears about being able to make mortgage payments have triggered such a dramatic change in behavior, that "marketers and businesses have coined a name for it. They call it 'insourcing': doing yourself what you once gladly paid others to do for you."

Paco Underhill, author of Why We Buy (every retail merchandiser's bible), says "There are many of us that have been spending money that we can't afford to spend and have taken on habits that we had no business taking on." These time-based trade-offs, such as pet services and yard maintenance, are some of the easiest forms of economizing that a person can do. Underhill predicts that this newfound self-sufficiency will last even after the recession is a distant memory, for "Americans have always taken some pride in doing things for themselves." I hope he's right about that.

John Kelso, popular columnist for the Austin American-Statesman, says insourcing is when you decide that, since you're being taken to the cleaners by the economic downturn, you will stop going to the cleaners. He has no plans to attempt removing his own appendix with a pocketknife, but he has begun to toss his Yorkie in the bathtub, even though Ziggy gives him a dirty look as if to say, "If I were a Doberman, I'd kill you." If you have your own insourcing techniques and skills that you enjoy, such as making your own soap, candles, brie, or moonshine, Kelso wants to hear about it. Just send your insourcing tips to, and he'll share them to help others save a few bucks.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


For years I have been curious about meditation. I worked with a girl in college, back in the early 70s, who was big into TM. There was something different about her. I wanted to understand where her calm glow came from, but when she tried to explain it to me, I just couldn't wrap my head around it. I thought about it again when I was reading Eat, Pray, Love. I adored the chapters set in Italy and Bali, but the way she spent her days in India? Well, that's pretty much my idea of Hell.

I've always referred to my time on the porch each day, watching the sun come up, as my "morning meditation," but that's not really accurate. As I understand it, to meditate is to empty one's head of all thought, and to just BE. What I do is more like releasing my brain to run free and explore the stratosphere at will, then, when it lands on something it finds interesting, I slowly rein it back in and begin to write about whatever it has discovered.

I've also grown to appreciate the many solo car trips I've had to make since my parents' health began to decline, not because I enjoy driving (I despise it), but because the monotony of it forces me to drift over into right-brained mode, where I am most creative. I've come up with some of my best design ideas and creative problem solving while driving or taking long walks, but I suppose that doesn't really count as meditation either, huh?

The subject came up at coffee yesterday, since one of the Muses is taking a class from a visiting yogi. Again it was explained to me how meditation is a way of banishing monkey-mind and pulling yourself fully into the present moment. Later that afternoon I was outside, watering my plants by hand, when suddenly I thought "Eureka! This is it! This is how I meditate!"

You see, usually, whenever I step outside, or even view my garden through the window, I am immediately bombarded by a thousand little voices, each crying out "Please trim me!", or feed me, or move me, or get these nasty aphids off of me! It's hard for me to concentrate on the garden's beauty, because I'm too busy thinking about all the work that needs to be done.

It is only when I reach for the hose, and turn the faucet handle, that the voices finally go quiet. All of my attention becomes completely focused on the one plant that is beneath this trickle of water, and at last I can see it. Really see it. I notice its tiny details, realize that it's not even one that I planted, and must have been delivered by a bird or the wind. I can see how much it has changed since the last time we visited. Finally, I am fully present in the moment.

Once I have completed my circuit, I go back to the faucet and shut it off. Then I turn around for one last sweeping look. Only this time, I hear no voices. Instead, I am struck dumb by its beauty, and filled with awe at the utter miracle of it all.

Monday, March 9, 2009


There was a time when I spent at least a couple of hours every weekend going through my cookbooks, deciding which entrees to fix for the week, making out grocery lists, and shopping. While at the grocery store, I would throw in a head of lettuce, a couple of cans of beans and fruit, some fresh broccoli or asparagus, and rice or potatoes. Notice how the veggies were a very minor afterthought to the meal-planning, and stayed pretty much the same year-round.

It just occurred to me recently that all of that has somehow been turned upside down in recent years - especially since moving to Wimberley. My new go-to, easy-peasy weeknight meal goes something like this: Start with whatever fresh veggies I got from The Bountiful Sprout or the farmer's market this week - last night I roasted broccoli and new spring carrots, tonight I will toss together a quick slaw from cabbage and kohlrabi. While the veggies are roasting, or whatever, I whip up something simple to go with them, using an egg or some cheese, and maybe a slice of artisanal bread or a fresh tortilla, all from TBS as well. One night it might be goat cheese toasts with a dab of roasted tomatoes. On another it could be my Italian egg sandwich, migas, or a fritatta. Ooh - that reminds me! Tomorrow I'm going to do a site visit for a producer who wishes to sell her goose eggs through TBS. Ever tasted one? I ought to be able to make a doozie of a fritatta from those!

On weekends, when John is here, we turn to slow food. Lovely braises and stews, usually involving manly cuts of meat - much easier now that Richardson Farms has joined TBS as a producer. There was a great article about them in the latest edition of edibleAUSTIN. If only they hadn't used that darling photo of their toddler, hugging a precious little piglet, on the cover. I'm afraid that image just might intrude upon my enjoyment of those beautiful pork cutlets I recently ordered from them.