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Recommended reading

The Road Less Traveled.

- F Scott Peck


 Scripture for April

"But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.  And having food and raiment, lets us be therewith content. -1 Timothy 6:6-8

Saying of the month

"The roofs are shining from the rain,
The sparrows twitter as they fly,
And with a windy April grace
The little clouds go by.
Yet the back yards are bare and brown
With only one unchanging tree--
I could not be so sure of Spring
Save that it sings in me."
-   Sara Teasdale, April




Some scripture for April


Saying of the month


Reading recommendation


Your choice of drinks can save our trees.


Live it up with less: decoration in a simple home


Stay healthy getting more air and light


"From scratch" recipe of the month  



The trees play numerous roles in the planet's ecology. We only have a tiny fraction of the forests that were here just a couple of hundred years ago, and what we still have are endangered. Helping to sustain the Earth comes down to saving our trees.(And, yes, it’s OK, and even advisable, to be a “tree-hugger.” Grandma is an unabashed "tree-hugger".)

That brings us to today's green idea, and that is changing our consumer habits. When consumer products we use involve a lot of acreage or a lot of water, we are, in fact, killing our forests. Other than cutting down on the use of paper products, which you should be doing, there is one important thing that everyone can do and that’s switching out some of the products that we consume to others are as harmful. The harm that products do has to do with how they are produced, transported, packaged, and consumed.  I’m limiting this discussion to the subject of coffee and tea drinking. (For both health and ecological reasons, I assume that you’re already not buying soft drinks on a regular basis.)

Coffee is the world’s most commonly traded commodity after crude oil, and tea is the world’s most consumed beverage after water. So tea and coffee are super important economic items, and that means there’s a lot of work to be done around reducing the use of these substances. The best thing you can do is to stop using coffee and tea and, instead, drink plenty of plain water and fruit juice.


But a lot of people feel they need stimulants in order to function better - especially in the morning. So if you must drink coffee or tea, limit yourself to one or two cups per day. (Grandma is trying to do this on a regular basis.) 

Coffee involves a much greater carbon footprint than tea - perhaps 10 times bigger. The water footprint of coffee is also more with tea using about 9 gallons of water per serving—compared to 33 gallons for soda, and 37 gallons for coffee. Obviously, just plain water is the best alternative, and it's a lot less expensive and eco-wise to filter your drinking water at home.

If you're a dyed-in-the-wool coffee or tea lover, then prepare and consume most of your drinks at home. Coffee shop drinks are not only a lot more costly, but involve a larger carbon footprint. When you are away from home and looking for a hot drink, be sure to carry your own mug. You’ll spend only a few dollars on a mug that you really like and, at the same time, feel better knowing that you’re being more eco-friendly. And, please, don’t even think of using disposable cups at your house – except maybe paper cups (never foam ones) for large group get-togethers where cleanup would be especially tiresome. One study showed that the average mug is used almost 3,000 times and the making of that cup and the water used to wash it create 30times less solid waste and represent 60 times less water than the same usage of paper cups.



 To be healthy we need a lot of light and air. Dark and enclosed spaces are not conducive to well being. For most of us, too much of our week is spent indoors working and carrying out other responsibilities. One way to improve our level of health is to get outdoors for at least a couple of hours as often as possible. We need to find more opportunities to get out.

Sometimes it is necessary to invent occasions for getting outside. The value of being outdoors has little to do with tanning or sunning ourselves - since even moderate solar exposure may be harmful-, but rather the with benefits of outdoor light and air. (If you can't get outside at all during the day, open your windows throughout the day. If the weather is cold or too rainy, be sure to open the windows of your home for at least a few minutes during the day to refresh the home environment.)

Here is an idea for getting outdoors that may work for you. Plan to eat at least one meal a week in the open air and during daylight hours. Of course, this may only be possible during those times of the year that permit it, and be sure to take full advantage of those days. Choose to picnic – early on in the day or late afternoon during the hot months and at midday during the milder months.

Eating outside helps you reconnect with nature and helps restore mental calmness. You also receive an esthetic bonus – even the simplest food tastes great when eaten in the open air. Using a picnic table and

chairs in your yard or patio space creates a great alfresco experience. If you have it, eating on a screened in porch is very handy and offers many of the same advantages of outdoor eating (and helps avoid flies and ants).

If your home patio space is limited, you can go to a park and picnic on a park table or carry a tablecloth and picnic on the ground. Small children always like these changes from the routine and are willing participants of a picnic lunch.  

If there is no time for preparations, go to the park, anyway, and buy a simple lunch that can be eaten outdoors. It’s almost as good and a lot easier, sometimes to picnic impromptu with small children. (For health sake, be sure that the purchased lunch is nutritious and not a greasy fast food lunch).

When my children were small, we often went directly to a large city park after school on Friday afternoons. This was how we celebrated the beginning of the weekend. In the open air market near the park, we bought fried fish (with hot sauce drizzled on top and wrapped in brown paper triangles), fresh buns, and soft drinks. We sat wherever we could find or improvise seats. For me, as much as the children, it was a wonderful way to unwind, enjoy being together, and appreciate the beauty of the trees, fountains, and flowers in the park.


 To live a greener life and respect our relationship with the Earth, we need all kinds of ways to be frugal and fight our consumer impulses. The best place to start is in our homes. And, as I’ve mentioned many times in these pages, that means living it up with less in a simple home. It's the easiest way to have a smaller carbon footprint – fewer square feet, fewer furnishings and accessories, lower energy bill, less cleaning needs, etc.

And, of course, the main rule for creating a simple home is to cut your possessions back to only the true essentials. Whether considering your furniture or accessories, the few things in your simple home should reflect high quality, sentimental value, or day-to-day personal utility. If you've accumulated more than what you really need, you'll have to find the strength of spirit to edit and eliminate a lot of items.

You probably know or intuit what should be on your floors. That’s right - only your furniture! Nothing should clutter the floor in the form of stacked or stored objects. That means no room-size carpets, although it's useful to have a little rug for your feet at the door or a mat beside the bath tub.  The same idea goes for flat surfaces, but an exception may be made here. You may choose to display one or two simple decorations, especially if they have a great deal of usefulness to you or are "treasures" that just about anyone would be pleased to see (often).  A potted plant or a vase of fresh flowers are always good decorations.

So, now we come to the walls. You’ll prefer plain, solid-colored walls – with perhaps a subdued texture. Avoid visual clutter on the walls associated with complex patterns such as flowers, spots, stripes, or checkers. You’ll also want basic window treatments or even bare windows.

And, of course, your simple home won’t have all kinds of stuff hanging on the walls. Like the surfaces, your walls should be pretty much clear. Some walls should be completely unadorned. To keep a room from being boring, you can put up one or two pieces of artwork such as paintings, drawings, or photos.

 Some super-useful, large items can also be tastefully hung-up on the walls. A wall mounted TV, a coat rack, or uncluttered bookshelves are good examples of such things.


A DIY Wall-Art Project for Your Simple Home

Here’s a do-it-yourself wall decoration that’s useful and will be a great addition to your simple home.

You already know the value of getting yourself organized with a calendar, but what about a nice wall-hung calendar? Maybe you don’t consider a nailed-up calendar to be a very tasteful wall decoration. But here’s one that you’ll like - it’s a wall-hung calendar that fits in well with minimalist decor.


You won’t need to do a lot of work to make this calendar. Just buy a corkboard, new or used, that already has a nice frame around it. (I bought mine at a thrift shop for a dollar.) If you want to personalize your project a bit more, you can even choose a nice picture frame and cut out corkboard to fit it.

Next, find a commercial calendar or print one out using word-processing software or a calendar template from the Internet. Tack your calendar on the corkboard. Then put colorful scrapbook paper or grosgrain ribbon around (or around and behind) the calendar to fill the gap between the calendar and the frame. Attach everything with large upholstery tacks or self-fastening strips.

Write in birthdays, appointments, bills to pay, and other to-do lists on the calendar. Use colored-stickers, highlight pens, or stamps to visually code different kinds of events during the month.

Then decide where you want to hang your calendar. Will it be more useful in the kitchen or over your desk or somewhere near a front or side door?  Find a logical place for your calendar and put it up just as you would a framed picture. Then enjoy your useful and attractive DIY wall decoration.



1.5 cups cornmeal

1/2 cup flour

3/4 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1 egg
1 TBS. minced cilantro

1 tsp. minced garlic (or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder) 

1 or 2 tsp. minced jalapeno peppers (or 1 TBS. mild red pepper sauce)

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk or plain yogurt


(Optional: add 3 TBS. grated cheddar cheese to mix.)

You'll need a muffin pan - greased or with muffin-sized baking cups. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Add egg, milk or yogurt and then oil; stir well. Spoon into muffin pan and bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Yields: about a dozen.

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