Thursday, December 27, 2012


Red Velvet Poinsettia Cupcake

I can cheerfully report that I am making progress toward starting my life. My daughter Karin and I have been discussing starting a baking business for some time. She is most interested in cake decorating, while I lean more toward breads—yeast and quick. My youngest has developed an interest in the pastry side of the business as well.

Thanksgiving Cupcakes

Anyway, we launched our business this month, meeting with mixed success. I found a community kitchen in which to make our wares, at the moment limited to cupcakes and muffins. We have sold a good many at a local flea market. Financially, we have yet to make our money back. But that’s okay. I regard this as our research phase. There is a lot to learn, and books/videos/classes can only provide so much.

Clockwise from top left: Peanut Butter Double-Take, Margerita, Thanksgiving designs, and more PBDT's.

My daughter keeps developing fantastic cupcake design ideas. I need to learn to decorate as well as she does. I’m not worried. That design degree will come in handy. I may take a few classes to learn the basic techniques. The big craft chains offer a lot of class times.

Spring Flowers

Autumn Cookie

I know, I know. Cupcakes are sooooo overdone, right? Well…not so much around here. They’re big on TV, but there aren’t all that many people actually making them. The trick is to make gorgeous cupcakes that taste as good as they look, and offer them at a price people are willing to pay while making a modest profit. You’d be amazed how few people actually get up off their duff and make the effort.

Christmas Cheer

We’d eventually like to turn it into a bigger business, with our own baking facility and an established market. We’re willing to start small and work our way up. It’s exciting and exhausting. It may never be a smashing success, but it lends purpose to the week. It’s doing SOMETHING, rather than waiting around for “Something” to happen. I now have a better understanding of the saying “It is better to have tried and failed than to have never tried at all”. I don’t plan to fail. Sure, this “starting a business” stuff is scary, but it isn’t anywhere near as daunting as so many people make it out to be (and believe me, there have been plenty of people who say it’s just toooooo hard…). You just have to DO IT. Make the effort. Stop waiting for permission.

At The Flea on 29 in Greensboro, NC

 Start living.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Reject the MSM hysteria

"After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn't do it."  
William Burroughs.

 If you give up your Rights  
 for "safety"
 you will lose BOTH.
Don't let them talk you into giving up 
your constitutional rights.

They don't plan to do anything good if you do.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Economic Status

When the winds of fortune change, it doesn’t mean disaster for everyone. In the past couple of years, I’ve had the strange, unreal experience of moving up the ladder in socioeconomic status without moving in any real sense. I still have my low-pay, dead-end job. These days, just having a job, any job, is a boost. I thank the Good Lord every day for my continued employment, because I know it could end tomorrow. Despite modest raises, when real inflation is factored in (see shadowstats), I make less than I did ten years ago. Nonetheless, in comparison to a large portion of the population, I’m doing quite well. A strange place to be, indeed.

You see, until the economic downturn, I felt that I was far behind my peers in economic achievement.  A lot of people my age have acquired assets such as a home, investments, and a retirement plan. I, on the other hand, have lived in rented abodes, driven old cars, and eaten a lot of spaghetti. Investments? I think I’ve heard of those. I got by, but it wasn’t fancy. It was hard. There was an enormous amount of pressure to have a lot more than I ever did, and I felt it keenly. As I stated in the intro to this blog, I expected to be doing better by now. I am certainly doing better than I was when my children were small. I never dreamed that raising three children in poverty would become a distinct advantage. I am better prepared to weather the depression to come because I have already dealt with some of the challenges. I know how to cope with economic adversity. I’ve had plenty of practice.

2008, The Crash, Part I: There is something to be said for having nothing to lose. Gas prices really bit into the grocery budget, but otherwise, it didn’t seem to make a lot of difference. Businesses closed, and a lot of people lost their jobs and the fat paychecks that went with them. Their investments and homes lost value overnight. Assumptions about the future evaporated in the blink of an eye. We’ll leave behind the fact that much of the wealth enjoyed was in fact, illusory. That’s a blog for another day. But these things happened to other people. My situation stayed the same.

Regarding status: I’m a security guard. It’s a really low status job. I like my job. I’m not looking for sympathy. Where else can you get paid to do (practically) nothing all day? I’ve had other, higher-status jobs. The pay was about the same, but I had to work a lot harder to get to the same nowhere. (I seemed to always find the jobs where hard work was rewarded with a heavier workload, not raises and promotions.) Here is something you probably don’t know about security work: Most people wash out within six months. They can’t handle the boredom, restrictions, or requirements. It’s an easy job to get, but not easy to keep. When economic collapse (The Crash, Part II) really sets in, security will be a good place to be. People are going to want to protect what they have. If your job is precarious, you may want to consider putting in an application at a local security firm. They may not hire you now, but when stuff hits the fan, there could be a lot of work.

Back to status: Any job, even a “lesser” job, bestows status these days. Having been a welfare mom in the nineties, I am acutely aware of the collective change in attitudes about status.

So here I am, caught in this weird twist in reality. The winds of fortune have moved the definition of success a little closer to me. I’m not doing anything differently, but my relative socioeconomic status has been raised. I’m dismayed by the change in so many people’s fortunes. I feel no triumph at their loss. While it is decidedly odd to change status while remaining in the same place, I would be dishonest if I didn’t admit to liking my rise in stature just a little bit.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Homemade Microwave Popcorn

Updated below!

I apologize for my long silence. I had a serious case of writing burnout, as online classes are very writing intensive. I am taking a break from classes for a while.

Meanwhile, I'm discovering many other ways to live better on less.

The latest discovery: Homemade microwave popcorn!

This is something I never even considered doing myself. Partly because I despise most commercial microwave popcorn. But some I can make myself...well, that may prove to be irresistible.

Evidently, all you need are fairly fresh popcorn kernels, a paper bag, and a microwave. You need fresh popcorn because it has the moisture needed to pop the corn.

(What you don't need is the loads of unknown fat and chemicals that go with most packaged microwave popcorn. Fat, in and of itself, is not a bad thing, but some fats a far better than others. The key here is that you control what goes into your popcorn.)

One blogger recommends using 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels &1/2 teaspoon of olive oil in a paper bag with the top folded down and crimped. Pop as you would normally pop a smaller bag of commercial popcorn. There is a related page about how to make kettle corn on the site as well.

At The Yummy Life there are tips on how to make popcorn in a microwave safe bowl and a related post on different flavors you can create.

For my own part, I'll be picking up some organic* popping corn, and trying my own microwave popcorn with some butter and salt. I'll report back on my own results soon.

UPDATE: I have tried two versions so far. One involved butter in a glass bowl. The popcorn was delicious, but the butter at the bottom of the bowl burned.  I also put some unadorned popcorn in a paper bag and microwaved it. It popped up beautifully but was somewhat tasteless. In both cases, it took longer than packaged popcorn does to pop, so put some extra time on when you cook it. As with the commercial popcorn, stand by and listen carefully.

Neither version caused the usual bloaty feeling that commercial microwave popcorn causes me. Big plus!

Here are the website addresses I have linked in this post:


*Note: I recommend organic popping corn because genetically modified (pesticide resistant) corn has been approved for human foods now, and it won't be labeled. The only way you can be sure you aren't getting GMO corn is to buy organic. Since the corn in pet food makes my pets sick, I don't care to try it myself. But that's another story for another day.