Living Large In Our Little House

Falling for Fall


We had some great fall weather last weekend. Cool mornings and sunny, warm afternoons. When this time of the year is upon us, my nesting instincts kick in and I decided to make some homemade comfort food.

I can always tell when summer is coming, as my mother-in-law will always tell me about her last pan of lasagna for the season. I decided to kick off the beginning of fall with some yummy vegetarian lasagna.


Separating the Grains of Rice in the Arsenic Controversy


Last week, more bad news about our food supply.

According to a study done by Consumer Reports, arsenic is in our rice.

Health experts have always recommended eating more rice over potatoes and what about those healthy people in Asian countries who eat rice for nearly every meal?

The first few reports we saw on this was confusing.

“Why is arsenic in our rice?” my husband asked. “Is organic rice better?

“I have no idea,” I said, and the news reporters either didn’t know or weren’t reporting the answers.

To make matters even more confusing, some of the reports were hurriedly associating the word “organic” in the report.


For Small House Living Try Some on For Size



1-Bedroom cabin at Oak Haven


When people ask me how to decide on what type of a small home to build, I tell them one of the ways we figured out our size and floor plan was to stay in small cabins during our vacations.

Last week, we had the opportunity to visit Sevierville, Tennessee in the Great Smoky Mountains. During our trip, we had the opportunity to stay in a couple of small cabins at Oak Haven Resort, a community of log cabins built in the mountains outside of the city.

Unfortunately, when we were doing the research to build our own little cabin in the woods, we didn’t know such places as Oak Haven existed. We were mainly confined to looking at sizes in the very basic cabins we rented during our research.

None of them had that homey feel to them.


Study Doesn’t Convince me of the Benefits of Not Eating Organic

The results of a new study by Stanford researchers this week say that organic food doesn’t have more nutritional value than conventionally raised or grown food.

The response I’ve been hearing from a lot of my friends and our Living Large Facebook community boils down to “duh.”

We’ve been purchasing organic milk and free range organic eggs for over 20 years. Produce when we can get it and meat for well over a decade.

Not because we felt that the nutritional value was higher, but because we were trying to keep as many chemicals off of our tables and from our bodies as possible and because we feel it is a better choice overall for our planet.

Studies have shown that the fresher the produce, organic or not, the more nutrients the produce retains, so we also try to buy freshly picked organic to get more nutritional value and if we cannot get organic, we try to buy freshly picked, but we don’t choose organic over conventional for nutritional value.

News tickers on television screens and headlines all over this week seemed to suggest that the price of organics isn’t worth it.


Doing it on the Deck

I’m still behind in my quest to organize and clear the house of clutter, but we’re pushing on for this last Thursday in August.

Appropriate that we saved the outdoor living spaces for the beginning of the Labor Day weekend, when some of us may be entertaining with end of summer bar-b-ques.

I don’t think we’ll be doing much of that here in Arkansas, as we’re supposed to see the remnants of the hurricane by tomorrow, which they say will bring us several inches of much needed rain through Saturday.

Still, when the weather permits, maybe Sunday or Monday, I will start by cleaning up the tomato  and pepper planters from the Party Deck.


Family Ties


Last week was all about some of the things I love, including my writing work, travel and my family.

I took a road trip to Sioux Falls, South Dakota for a travel writer’s conference. I made it a 2-day drive each way so I wasn’t rushing and trying to cram 11-12 hours of driving into each day.

This gave me a chance to stop through Kansas City. On the first day of my trip, I had dinner in Kansas City with  my youngest nephew, Shawn, and his girlfriend, Belle.

Although we keep up with each other on Facebook, I hadn’t seen them since my mother’s/his grandmother’s funeral 5 ½ years ago. As children, I felt close to my nephews, the older ones were only 5 years younger, and Shawn was only 10 years younger. Shawn and Keith had also come with their mother to live with my mom and me after my dad died, so I felt a special kinship with them.

My 30 year class reunion was the weekend prior and although I didn’t attend, I kept up with the planning of the event. There’s nothing to make you realize that we may not have another day to spend with friends and family than to see a list of 15 of your classmates names who have already passed away.

I realized I hadn’t been good at keeping in touch, in knowing my nephews for the men they had become.


Doing it on the Desk, in the Filing Cabinets and on the Bookshelves

Inside of Belle Writer's Studio Photo courtesy of Mother Earth News by Kevin Pieper


How are we doing with our organizational goals this month?

I’m behind, way behind thanks to illness last week and a writer’s conference this week, but that’s ok, because I plan on catching up when I get back.

This week, we’re doing it on the desk, the filing cabinets and the book shelves, cleaning them out, that is!

My office is a place that gets very unorganized if I allow it. I’ve stopped most junk mail, but we still receive paper bills and I get a lot of books for review and they pile up.

I typically clean out my filing cabinets once every year and that is at the end or beginning of the year when I’ve put together our taxes, they’re good. I keep work related notes for 5 years and back tax and bank records for 10 in storage boxes in the basement.

But, oy, my desk and bookshelves need a decluttering job.


The Itsy Bitsy Spider

Alexandra! You have won the compostable toothbrush from World Centric! Congratulations! Please get in touch with me at with your snail mail address!

I have another nature post this Tuesday, one you will either love or hate.

Dale came home from work the other day and said, “I got to see a tarantula this morning on the way to work.”

Before we built Our Little House, we had never seen a tarantula outside of a pet store and really didn’t know they were here in Arkansas.

When we were building, we drove up to the construction project and saw something on the side of the foundation. “Is that mud?” I asked and as we got closer, I could see it was a huge, hairy spider.