Living Large In Our Little House Blog

When Everyday is Meatless Monday


One of my meatless dishes that will have to be modified without cheese


Have you ever watched a documentary that changed the way you looked at things?

Last week, we watched the movie, “Forks Over Knives,” which advocates a “plant based, whole foods” diet, which is evidently the new way to say “vegan.”

I’ve written before about going vegetarian for 9 months, and then a deep fried pork tenderloin called my name and I fell off the wagon.

It was difficult because my husband and mother, who I also cooked for at that time, were not vegetarians. My mom didn’t eat a lot of meat, but Dale has always been a meat and potatoes guy, so most days I found myself cooking two meals.

Even working from home, that was a real pain.


When Living Far Out isn’t Far Enough


Our country road in 2009, before all of the traffic came



You know where you have one of those weeks, I mean really one of those weeks. Not the ones where your television quits working, you or one of the dogs knocks over a priceless family heirloom and it smashes on the floor, or you walk into the only organic grocer in town and they’re out of just about everything.

I’m talking about a week where internal and external events forever change your life, relationships and how you view the world.

It’s been one of those weeks at Campbell Town.

It began last Saturday when my mother in law passed away. It wasn’t unexpected, but that never makes the loss seem any easier. The family dynamic was complicated, as are many mother/son/daughter-in-law relationships, but I’m grateful the last words we both exchanged with her were “I love you.”

My husband’s world is forever changed, as it is when we lose a parent.


Favorite Gadgets for a Small Home

I ran across a post on the Internet the other day listing “50 Small Things for a Small House.”

While the post was directed at young singles in the city, I think some of these things have value for small house owners as well.

Here are my favorites from the list:

  1. #4 on their list, the combo blender/food processor. I have one of these and it’s always good when you can save a little counter or cabinet space by combining your appliances.
  2. #6 on their list, the shelves disguised as books. Not sure how practical these are; small house lovers tend to be huge book fans and we have a lot of them. But these are cute.
  3. #10 on their list, the small, portable microwave. We don’t own one, but I know many people cannot live without them. This would be great in a small space.
  4. #11 on their list, the trolley mini kitchen, complete with stove top and mini fridge. This would be perfect in some tiny houses I’ve seen.
  5. #12 on their list, the kitchen bowl and spoons nesting set.

The list goes on with small dishwashers, a file hiding ottoman and even a bar-b-que grill that doubles as a planter when not in use.

The list also contains some tricks we small house dwellers already have up our sleeves, such as sofa sleepers, hideaway beds, cabinet mounted bottle openers, flat screen television mounts and shower caddies.

What is your favorite gadget on this list of 50?


I Love a Large, Beautiful Home; I Just Don’t Want to Clean it

The house after I gave it a top to bottom cleaning /photo by Kevin Pieper


We spent this past weekend back in our hometown. We had a lot of good food and good times with our friends, which included going and visiting their homes.

All of them very beautiful and much more immaculate than I keep mine! As I’ve written before, I’m not a terrible housekeeper, but I’m not and never have been, my mother either.

Some of these homes we’ve spent considerable time in, such as our former neighbor’s. We lived across the street from them for 17 years and their home almost feels like home to us, we had so many holidays, events for their kids, 4th of July pool parties and just evenings visiting with them.

One was another friend who moved to this house after we moved, we’ve been there several times; I even spent a night there on my way to a professional conference last summer.

The last home we visited was for the first time. Like us, she lives in the country with their rescue dogs.

When we were sitting and visiting, in each of our friend’s homes, I kept finding myself looking around at different things, some of which I wished I still had room for: My china cabinet with my pretty “good” dishes, a large sofa and two recliners, lots of kitchen cabinet space and my own bathroom.


What Americans Can Do About GMOs Since Our Government Failed Us

If you’re concerned about corporate overreach, government corruption and most importantly, food safety in the U.S., you need to know that we can still fight Monsanto and our government over our food safety.

Last week the United States Congress, in a stunning decision, approved a bill that would allow Monsanto basically free reign over our food supply. The bill, dubbed the Monsanto Protection Act by food safety advocates, is basically summed up by allowing Monsanto to circumvent the court system and grow genetically modified food (GMOs), even if scientific studies find it unsafe to eat.

In an even more shocking move, President Obama signed the bill into law last night.

The law allows corporations to supersede our basic right to safety.

Why is this important? As I’ve discussed on this site in the past, we don’t know if GMOs are safe; enough scientific research has yet to be conducted.

What we do know is that 62 other countries have banned or strictly regulated GMOs until further study is done on their safety.

This is happening folks, while America allows GMOs to be planted unregulated, untested and now unaccountable for safety.

We also know that GMO seeds contain insecticide; that’s their purpose, to ward off pests. That insecticide is then contained in every cell of the resulting food.

Do we really want to put that stuff into our bodies? At the very least we have the right to know it’s there.

I spoke with Dave Murphy, founder of the consumer advocacy organization, Food Democracy Now, and he told me that 70-75% of processed foods on the market contain GMOs, as well as most commodity products such as corn, soybeans and sugar beets.

Murphy said that in the 1990s, FDA scientists warned that GMO foods would introduce unknown toxins and allergens into our food supply.

That seems to have come to pass. How many children do you know with allergies?

I know a lot, many more than when I was a kid.

Murphy called the decision outrageous. “A corporation should not be allowed to trample our democratic rights and this politically engineered loophole is outrageous.”

Murphy said we need to continue the fight. Now that this bill is law, it’s even more important for our right to know if our food contains GMOs and require mandatory labeling.

As you might recall, California failed to pass its labeling initiative last fall and Hawaii’s initiative was just killed. Alaska has a GMO fish labeling initiative in the works now.

Murphy urges everyone interested in this important subject to go to the Food Democracy Now website and sign the petition.

In the meantime, you can know what your family is eating by knowing your farmer – buy local and buy organic when you possibly can.

If you can’t buy local, look for food marked “organic” and for extra protection, foods marked with the third party verification, “Non GMO Project” label.

I believe this is one of the most egregious take overs by a corporation of our government and we have to do everything to keep fighting.

Our health, the health of our children and our planet depends on it.

What do you think about this new law?


It May be Spring on the Calendar

The calendar may say it is officially spring, but here in northern Arkansas, as I write this, I’m watching snow fall.

For the past few days, the weather people on the local news have been all abuzz about how big of a storm we might get.

As much as a week ago, they were talking about “significant accumulation.”

Into the new week, it was “a major spring storm” and for the past couple of days, they’ve been showing graphics and statistics about late March snows with measurable accumulations.

As the days progressed and the line of heavy snow moved north and then south and back again twice with “heavy” meaning as much as 7 inches, we’ve felt our anxiety grow.

You see, it isn’t easy to get out of Campbell Town when there is snow on the ground. Dale has to go the long way around to get to work, which adds an extra hour and 30 miles to his drive.


Sweet Sade Sue’s Advice for Living Large

Photograph by Kevin Pieper for Mother Earth News

If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you’ll recognize the dog in the above picture as our Sweet Sade Sue.

Living Large in our Little House has gotten a fair amount of press over the years in publications such as Mother Earth News, US News, MSN Real Estate and Kiplinger.

Anytime a photographer has visited for one of these stories, Sweet Sade Sue has always been right there, ready to get in the picture, just like she knows what is happening.

She is pretty photogenic and, unlike our Emma was, she is not afraid of the camera.

I was talking with a friend a few weeks ago and she suggested that one of our 6-pack should be our official mascot. Since Sweet Sade Sue is already semi-famous, I thought that to be a great idea.

Sade is also a pit bull, but we like to call her a pittie or a pibble, because like many dogs of this breed that are mis-characterized and demonized, she would have no idea what to do in a pit and would want no part of it anyway.

She’s a lover and just really is a 50 pound lap dog. Anyone who has visited Our Little House with no impressions of pitties or the impressions they’ve gotten from the media leaves here with a whole new view of these love bugs and typically, they want to take her home.

Now that her past in another home is way behind her and she’s forgotten that she was dumped on the side of the road, she is a very fun loving girl and has some very definite ideas about what Living Large is all about.

So, today, on our Facebook page, we’ve posted a meme with Sweet Sade Sue’s picture and her first idea about Living Large. She tells me she would like to post a couple of times a week.

We hope you’ll join us there, enjoy Sade’s posts and share them with your friends.

Do you have preconceived ideas about pit bulls, if so, do positive stories help change your perception?  

Continually Chasing Dreams

This house definitely fits into my fantasy home. Photo Remax Larson Group Kansas City


Every once in a while, I will find myself dreaming of a small 1920’s-ish cottage or Tudor in an older section of our hometown.

A house with arched doorways and where my antiques would look as if they belonged and a kitchen with a built in pantry. I also decorate the kitchen in period décor, complete with modern reproduction appliances.

There are rose bushes and an arbor in the backyard with a detached garage and plenty of bushes for privacy. It’s the burbs, but we’re also close enough to a little shopping district to walk to the local coffee shop and bookstore.

Am I crazy? We’re supposed to be living our dream.

I’m not the only one with a continual yearning.