Unlike the simple living models I’ve followed from an early age, I don’t live in a rustic cabin in the Alps, or in charming Concord, Massachusetts, or in Avonlea. I live in a small suburban house from the mid-80s that lies in a flourishing lawn of creeping charlie surrounded by my homemade landscape and garden. My husband Thom, daughter Mari, and I enjoy books, learning, cooking, the great outdoors, and our cats and dog. As I’ve experienced and observed my life, I’ve evaluated what brings me happiness and where to spend my life energy. I look forward to exchanging thoughts and ideas with you.
When I was a college sophomore in my first apartment, I asked my mom for a cookbook. I hadn’t yet mastered cooking rice, and I just wanted some simple instructions. She gave me my great grandmother’s 1932 Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, a cloth-bound binder with pages that had aged as gently as Louise, with her beautiful script on the back pages. I looked through it… and at some point returned it to Mom’s shelf. I was moving a lot and didn’t want things I wouldn’t use, and it wasn’t the book I needed at that time. I eventually figured out how to cook rice and a lot of other things, mostly without instructions.
The ease of dinner from the fridge or freezer on weeknights means that the cooking time must come from some other time in the week. Rather than doing a big freezer cooking day, my routine has always been to simply cook more than we need and freeze the extra. But when 5 of 7 days of the week have little cooking time after work, another strategy is needed… and that’s when I cook dinner after dinner. Continue reading “Cooking Dinner… After Dinner”→
The first year that I sent my own holiday greetings, I hand-wrote individual letters to everyone. It was before our marriage, before our parenthood, and before my career burnout. And even then, it was too much.
A Wrinkle in Time captured my young imagination and I went on to read nearly everything that Madeleine L’Engle wrote. The Arm of the Starfish, which combined likable characters, science, and international intrigue, was my favorite, and it is one of the books that has withstood rereading as an adult. Near the 100th anniversary of her birth, I’ll share this advice that she prefaces as being for writers, but which seems to me to be good advice for anyone, especially given the documented effect of writing on health:
I have advice for people who want to write. I don’t care whether they’re 5 or 500. There are three things that are important:
First, if you want to write, you need to keep an honest, unpublishable journal that nobody reads, nobody but you.Where you just put down what you think about life, what you think about things, what you think is fair and what you think is unfair.
And second, you need to read.You can’t be a writer if you’re not a reader. It’s the great writers who teach us how to write.
The third thing is to write. Just write a little bit every day.Even if it’s for only half an hour — write, write, write.
Winter in the northern latitudes is a challenge, a marathon, an endurance test. A few months ago, we were basking in so much sunlight that it almost seemed pointless to go to sleep, and now we’re at the opposite end of the spectrum: on a chilly, cloudy, rainy day like today, with abbreviated sunlight hours, hibernating in my pajamas seems attractive… a marked contrast to the summer months of hours outdoors every day, absorbing light and being active.
Here’s tomorrow’s lunch: black bean soup with cilantro and sour cream. Here at the Cottage, winter is all about cozy foods like fragrant soups and breads. I pack my breakfast and lunch every day, because I am frugal and because I leave the house too early to eat breakfast – my minimum 12-hour fast is not done. Continue reading “Soup for Lunch!”→