January 30, 2006

Book Signings

Book signings are a good idea. Not only are they free entertainment, but they are supportive of writers and book stores and the printed word. And, heck: they make for great gifts.

Yep, gifts. Authors are more than happy to sign their work - and while they are traveling the circuit promoting their newest book, most are more than happy to sign copies of previous publications. Giving a book the author has signed is a great thing - especially if it's personalized. Your local bookstore should post notices in advance, and chains like Barnes & Noble provide online information.

PS If you go to a cookbook signing, odds are high that there may be cooking involved. This cannot be a bad thing. I just mention this for those of you who like those Saturday morning tasters at the grocery store. Not that I've ever sucumbed to that temptation, of course ....

Role Models

Several profiles appear in an 1998 article from USA Today that is still available online today. An example or two:

Peter Mui changed his life: once earning $75,000 a year (1998 dollars) in publishing, in his new life he's living on $16,000-$20,000 a year instead. He rides a bike instead of driving a car. He looks happy in his photo.

The Padal family moved into a 888 sq. foot home from their their 2,000 sq. foot house - higher quality of life, and time to enjoy it.

There's more. I'd love to know what these folk are doing now - eight years later. So, I've written to USA Today and asked if they'd be interested in following up on this story.

We want to know.

What's the Secret?

Actually, there are six secrets, or tricks, to successful frugal living according to Deborah Taylor-Hough. Deb's got a great frugal living site called A Frugal, Simple Life and as part of that site, she writes of her own experiences in "One Income Living in a Two Income World."

The article lets you know that there are a lot of us out there in the world. She's heard, "It must be nice making so much money you can be home with your kids. We could never afford to do that." Sound familiar?

Deb and her family of five have been doing this for over ten years now. Nice to know she's out there -- she offers ezines, newsletters, and audiotapes if you're interested.

When Did Making Sense Become Alternative?

This is the question posed by Pat Vereto as part of her article on living frugally on about.com. She writes, in part:

"When did owning a vehicle outright and not needing a credit card to go shopping become wrong? When did supplying at least some of our own needs with our own hands become unnatural?

"This attitude has developed only recently, within the last few decades, anyway. Not so long ago, it was a good thing to sew your own clothing, have a garden, and cook from scratch. Now it's "quaint" or "alternative," or just plain weird.

"Egads. When making sense becomes "alternative," it's scary.

"Making sense takes a lot of commitment. You can't be frugal once or twice a week and expect to gain anything. You can't be dollarwise and penny foolish. You have to train your mind to look at the whole picture, and not the one painted for you by the salesman, either!"

This is a great read when you're needed some encouragement. We all do.

Homemade Cat Food

Cat food recipes can be found at Kitty Cuisine, eHow.com, and cdkitchen.

Be sure to avoid chocolate, alcohol, garlic, onions, pork (yes, this means bacon), raw fish, raw eggs, tomatoes, grapes, raisins, milk (yes, milk) or bones. These are all bad for cats.

For kittens, try the frugal recipe at about.com.

Farmers' Markets

First of all, shopping at a farmer's market is fun. You're talking to the folk who grew the stuff and odds are high that less than 24 hours prior to your purchase it was still on the vine, in the ground, etc. Some of the stuff isn't as shapely or magazine-cover perfect as what you find in the grocery - but that's part of the fun, too. There's something so authentic about a turnip bearing a striking resemblance to Alfred Hitchcock's profile. (This also may help the kids eat the turnip.)

Second, it's tasty. This stuff is fresh - and cooks up well. I still remember the corn from that market over off of IH35South. And the big, fat tomatoes from the truck parked at the market next to the Archery, off McCullough Avenue. The melons!

Third, it's somewhat cheaper - but I find that is less true of the markets inside the city limits than the ones closer to the county line. Buying in big batches is better on the pocketbook, if you can gather a group to share.

How to find your local market? The USDA has a site that gives you a list of markets in your area, for example there is a USDA site for Texas where various counties and cities are listed, with links to the registered markets in the area. The USDA also provides lots of other information: for instance, there is a new Seniors' Farmers Market Nutrition Program where Seniors get coupons to use at the FM.

Life is good on a Saturday when you take a drive on a sunny morning, good music and maybe a glass of tea in the cupholder, tour the Market, chatting with the farmer folk, and then come home, finding recipes to match your finds, and then fill the house with good smells. The meal's always good. Always.

To me, it's one of the best examples of what simple living means - an abundance to be experienced in order to be appreciated. Go find your market - Spring is coming soon.

More For San Antonio Green Thumbs

Jerry Parsons recommends Manuel Flores' site be listed here as a San Antonio gardening reference. So, here it is. Actually, the site is useful even if you're not in Texas.

Why listen to Dr. Jerry Parsons? Not only is he a well-known, and well-respected, horticulture expert - this is a man who took the Texas Bluebonnet and turned it lavender (Barbara Bush Lavender), pink (Abbott Pink), and Aggie red (Texas Maroon ).
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