DIY-Green Living

My Ten Principles of Eating Well

Food, glorious food!
Hot sausage and mustard!
While we’re in the mood —
Cold jelly and custard!

– “Oliver”

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about food. OK, so that’s not news. I think about food a lot. What I’ve specifically been thinking about is a common way that Americans see their food, and it makes me sad.

As we’ve gotten wealthier and consequently fatter over time, Americans have come to see food as the enemy. We’re always discovering the evils that food contains, whether it’s fat, sugar, carbs, or calories (counting calories never goes out of style). Women in particular tend to talk about dieting, or how they “shouldn’t be eating” the chocolate cake that they’re about to dig into. It really takes the pleasure out of eating when you or those around you associate it with shame and lack of self-control.


Are You Still Reschooling Yourself?

Aside from “So how’s Mississippi?”, the most common question I get these days is, “Are you still reschooling yourself?” I’m never quite sure how to answer that.

The project completion date is technically June 15th, marking the end of a full school year, so yes, I’m still officially reschooling. I think the question gives me pause because Reschool Yourself is gradually becoming more of a lifestyle than a finite project.

The fall was about looking back and processing the past. The spring is about moving forward, and figuring out what kind of lifestyle I want to lead. I’d originally envisioned the spring as an intensive period of travel and self-directed study. However, I came to realize that I was craving stability rather than nomadic adventure. I decided to postpone any major travels and move to the South, which is one of the best places to plant roots.


Reschooling Tool #19: Touch the Past and Let it Go

I spent last evening sitting on the living room floor of my childhood home, letting go of hundreds of pages of old letters. This is something that I never thought I could do.

For most of my life, I have been exceptionally sentimental. I suppose it comes with the writer’s temperament, because you’re always collecting experiences to capture in words. And once you write about them, there they stay, preserved forever. Romanticizing and immortalizing the past makes it harder to let go.

Darren‘s mom, Jill, pointed out to me that Catholics may be especially likely to hang onto physical representations of the past. Much of the Catholic ritual centers on sacred objects: the Communion wafer, the priest’s vestments, or relics from the Holy Land. Unlike the Buddhists, whose monks may travel around with only a robe and rice bowl, Catholics bundle up much of their meaning in things. Do the math: Cradle Catholic + romantic writer = memory packrat.


Apartment, Meet Shelf Liner.

Slideshow of our ongoing home improvement process. Click on a picture to see its caption. You can then use the arrow keys to advance the slideshow.

My Twitter/Facebook update on Sunday was, “Today is the day the boy apartment becomes a co-ed apartment. Apartment, I’d like to introduce you to shelf liner and drawer organizers.” It was a big day for the bachelor pad.

I know that in some ways, it would have been ideal if we’d found a brand new place instead of having me move into Darren‘s place. Because it would have been ours from the beginning, we could have avoided my encroaching on his man-tastic lair.

Nonetheless, in most ways it just made sense for me to move into the place he’s had for two years. He’s got a great spot in a four-plex, a big southern house divided into apartments with wood floors and lots of windows. His treesy neighborhood, Belhaven, is known as one of the most beautiful and consistently wins Best of Jackson’s Best Place to Run. Most importantly, right now I just want to have a simple, settled life and am grateful that he has all the basic necessities already in place.


My First Week as a Southern Belle

I’ve been a Jackson resident for a week now. I have a post brewing about all the differences I’ve observed so far between Mississippi, but it has grown so big that I keep putting it off. I’m working on doing more posts in bullets, snippets, or photos, both for your sanity and mine. Here’s a rundown of Week 1 in Jacktown. Even though I spent most of my time this week at home settling in, a lot happened:

•  Splurging at Target to organize Darren’s former bachelor pad. It’s a work in progress, but the place already looks much, much saner. Pictures of the transformation to follow.

•  Finding the best organic foods and green cleaning products that Jackson has to offer. One of the biggest sacrifices I made in moving to Mississippi from the Bay Area is giving up the wealth of healthy food choices, particularly organics. They’re harder to find in Jackson, but they do exist. There’s a local co-op called Rainbow (like my favorite grocery in San Francisco), and the big-box Kroger has a solid selection of organic produce. I can’t describe how elated I felt to put vegetable after organic vegetable into the shopping cart, especially after a southern fried wedding week in New Orleans. Ironically, I felt like a kid in a candy store.


Trying Screen Printing on for Size

Today Darren introduced me to a whole new world: the business of screen printing, otherwise known as silk screening. He learned the craft as a Graphic Design major in college and has designed and printed hundreds of his own t-shirts by hand. During my last visit in August, he designed a shirt for my grandpa’s birthday (see photos below) and demystified the process for me. Now when I see just about any t-shirt, I think, “I could make that!” I’ve never done crafty things like making jewelry or knitting, so I feel empowered knowing how to produce something useful.

I’d known that Darren had made a neat profit selling t-shirts at local festivals and a design shop he ran for about a year, but I hadn’t experienced it firsthand until now. Last night we stayed up late printing a few dozen shirts, mostly with his new “Buy Local” design, in advance of tonight’s Fondren Unwrapped event (see photo #53). At this annual festival in Jackson’s Fondren neighborhood, locals tour small businesses, sample food and wine, and buy arts and crafts. We set up an outdoor table and arranged our t-shirts and tote bags, as well as buttons and postcards made by Darren’s friends.