Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Independence Days Challenge

Planted: This weekend I’ll plant some cold weather greens. They will grow in the garage prior to transplanting to the fenced yard.

Harvested: Greek Oregano, Rosemary

Prepped: We’ve laid out three gardening beds in the back yard. Each one is edged with wood and covered in three feet of rotting leaves. I covered each bed with landscape cloth so the leaves could continue to decompose. In Spring I’ll turn the leaves under with the roto-tiller. This helps enrich the soil and makes for fantastic produce.

Managed: Pantry/Larder management is a big part of food storage. Many of the women in my group have organized and highly efficient tracking systems for their stored foods. My inventory shows me short on tomato products which I’ll reup on at the next sale.

Recycled/Reused: We still take our recycling to the center. I reuse most plastic containers for painting and crafts.

Stored: Jars of pasta sauce, canned pineapple

Cooked something new: We’ve been cooking from food storage so using dried instead of fresh or canned is a new experience for me. My coop offers free cooking classes, so I'll be taking a class from them on Feb 21st. Also the Whole Foods store in Nashville has a great cooking series that I'll be participating in this semester.

Support Local Food Systems: I’m making up my coop order for March. I ordered two bread baking pans and a pizza pan, a yogurt cheese cookbook, radish and black sunflower sprouting seeds, and tons of spelt pasta in different forms.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Yummy Dinners from Food Storage

I’ve been promising to include some recipes from my food storage. Here are a couple of quickies.

Chicken Alfredo with peas
1 jar of Alfredo sauce¼ c. dried peas 1 can white chicken breast meat Spelt
Dried mushrooms Start the water for the spelt. Combine the sauce, peas and chicken in a saucepan. Simmer on low until peas are tender. Boil spelt until tender. Drain and serve with sauce on top.

Cannellini with Dried Shitake and Canned Diced Tomatoes
Cannellini beans, cooked
Shallot or onion
Garlic, thyme, oregano
Dried mushrooms
Cook dried beans according to instructions. In a skillet, melt some high-heat canola oil. Thinly slice some shallot or onion and sauté. At the last minute, add some minced garlic. Stir until garlic starts to turn golden. Add tomatoes with juices. Simmer. Add thyme, Greek oregano, salt and pepper, mushrooms, and beans. Simmer until mushrooms are soft. Serve over noodles.


From Holly Conway: New video game research out today, may confirm what you already thought- the more you play video games, the more likely you are to become a pot head. Researchers found that of the 800 college students they talked to, those who played video games on a daily basis smoked twice as much pot as those who only play occasionally, and 3 times more pot than those who don’t play video games at all! And believe it or not the video game stoners also said the same thing when asked if they think smoking pot is bad for you… “what was the question?”

There’s so much to laugh and smile about. The Buddhists believe that one should keep a smile on the face. Witness the Dalai Lama.

My father used to say, “Smile, it makes people wonder what you’ve been doing.”

Keep On Keepin On

I appreciate the messages I get thanking me for this blog. Yes, times are hard and bound to get harder, but you know what? We are still alive. We can enjoy food and each other and art and nature. Every day when I wake up and see light in my room I have the greatest feeling of peace and happiness. That kind of happiness isn’t dependent on who is president (though it helps) or whether or not I’m broke. I’m just glad to keep on keepin’ on.

As a reminder that life is a hoot and there’s a laugh around every corner, check out this statue of Nathan Bedford Forest. Putting this blurb about the statue doesn’t mean I support Forest or the Klan or their ilk. But I do laugh when I pass the statue surrounded by Confederate flags. The flags are tattered and almost nonexistent, raised on about a dozen flag poles surrounding the statue.

Brentwood - Nashville, Tennessee - Nathan Bedford Forrest tribute
“Very ugly, large fiberglass statue of General Nathaniel Bedford Forrest on his horse, former Confederate general AND founder of the Ku Klux Klan. Statue is surrounded by a large display of Confederate flags. The entire thing stands on a strip of privately held land right next to Interstate 65-S in Nashville, Tenn. This statue has been shot at and repaired—a real politically incorrect eyesore for the city. Owner is a wealthy elderly attorney in Nashville who proudly defends the statue and his right to have it there. It really looks like a cartoon statue. [Sue, 02/10/2001]”
[RA: Yes, it's as if the colorful Civil War general tumbled out of some horrific, injection mold nightmare. Here's a 2004 photo by Justin Bird.]

Friday, January 16, 2009

Meeting of the Minds

Last night I had dinner with a group of friends…well, mostly they’re my husband’s friends that he’s come to know and love through the music industry. Now they’re my friends too. We gathered at Sol Restaurant in Franklin, TN. Our first question was how do you pronounce Sol in Spanish?

Pictured here are Bryan Cumming, Barbara Hart, Beejee Hampton, Holly Cumming.

At table with us were Barbara Hart and her business partner Cheryl Gimbel. They are working on Barbara’s play titled Rose Bowl Queens.
Studio 23 owner Bryan Cumming was present. He is involved in the project as the women endeavor to record the musical play soundtrack to CD.
Bryan’s wife was present, just a few days after her double knee replacement surgery; and her cute stepmom was at her side. We made a great crew of seven. And Sol Restaurant in Franklin was more than accommodating, even though we didn’t have a reservation, couldn’t take an upstairs table, and were a party of seven. The food was outstanding and the service was great. We were served by a member of Pistol. Visit them on myspace at

Pictured here are Alan Ross and Cheryl Gimbel.
Ever present was my partner Alan Ross ( who is singing on the Rose Bowl Queens CD. Alan is working on a three-song country demo for a country-music-star-to-be-named later. Songs include Dance With My Wife, Number One Song, and Arizona Highways. As most of us know, Alan held onto his music through the years. Now, with a probe from a recording star in our own hometown, Alan agrees the time is right to let go. I’m sure he wants to keep me in the style to which I wish to become accustomed: that is, giving away everything we have to people who need it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sunset on Randolph

Two reasons to live in our neighborhood...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Premio Dardos Award

We would like to give a big thanks to Gracie for presenting us with the Premio Dardos award! This award acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his/her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary and personal values every day.

Blogging Without Obligation

Because you shouldn't have to look at your blog like it is a treadmill.
Because it’s okay to just say what you have to say. If that makes for a long post, fine. Short post, fine. Frequent post, fine. Infrequent post, fine.
Because it’s okay to not always be enthralled with the sound of your own typing.
Because sometimes less is more.
Because only blogging when you feel truly inspired keeps up the integrity of your blog.
Because they are probably not going to inscribe your stat, link and comment numbers on your tombstone.
Because for most of us blogging is just a hobby. A way to express yourself and connect with others. You should not have to apologize for lapses in posts. Just take a step back and enjoy life, not everything you do has to be "bloggable."
Because if you blog without obligation you will naturally keep your blog around longer, because it won't be a chore. Plus, just think you will be doing your part to eradicate post pollution. One post at a time...

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Gift of A Smile

A month ago I had my top teeth replaced. I didn’t have much choice; my teeth were badly damaged by medications and TMJ, with a little heredity thrown in. So we bit the bullet as we forked over way too much money for replacement teeth. It would be easy to regret the expense in today’s woeful financial market if it weren’t for one thing: the gift of a smile.

What I mean by that is that I’ve been given the gift of a smile. Knowing my teeth are very white and very pretty, I smile at everybody. I grin, I say “hey.” And the change that comes over peoples’ faces is amazing. That positive change in other people is the gift I’m getting every day.

Along those lines, Mark Stibich, Ph.D. tells us there are many reasons to smile. “Smiling is a great way to make yourself stand out while helping your body to function better.” Dr. Stibich gives the following advice in his column on (

Smiling Changes Your Mood
Next time you are feeling down, try putting on a smile. There's a good chance you mood will change for the better. Smiling can trick the body into helping you change your mood.

Smiling is Contagious
When someone is smiling they lighten up the room, change the moods of others, and make things happier. A smiling person brings happiness with them. Smile lots and you will draw people to you.

Smiling Boosts Your Immune System
Smiling helps the immune system to work better. When you smile, immune function improves possibly because you are more relaxed. Prevent the flu and colds by smiling.

Smiling Lowers Your Blood Pressure
When you smile, there is a measurable reduction in your blood pressure. Give it a try if you have a blood pressure monitor at home. Sit for a few minutes, take a reading. Then smile for a minute and take another reading while still smiling. Do you notice a difference?

Smiling Releases Endorphins, Natural Pain Killers and Serotonin
Studies have shown that smiling releases endorphins, natural pain killers, and serotonin. Together these three make us feel good. Smiling is a natural drug.

Smiling Makes You Seem Successful
Smiling people appear more confident, are more likely to be promoted, and more likely to be approached. Put on a smile at meetings and appointments and people will react to you differently.

Smiling Makes You Attractive.
We are drawn to people who smile. There is an attraction factor. We want to know a smiling person and figure out what is so good. Frowns, scowls and grimaces all push people away -- but a smile draws them in.

Smiling Helps You Stay Positive
Try this test: Smile. Now try to think of something negative without losing the smile. It's hard. When we smile our body is sending the rest of us a message that "Life is Good!" Stay away from depression, stress and worry by smiling.

I can personally attest to all of the above comments. Since I’ve acquired a beautiful smile, my life has changed. My health has improved and I’m more socially confident. I’m not sure how many smiles I’ll have to smile in order to amortize the cost, but I’ve made a good start by keeping a smile on my face.

So I’m issuing a 14-day challenge: For the next two weeks, smile constantly. Smile at the postman, the sales clerk, your waitress. Smile at your family. Smile till your face hurts. Smile when you’re alone. Improve your health, your social life, maybe even your bowling score. Give yourself the gift of a smile.