Enjoying Tough Times: Home, Meals and Simple Pleasures

One Sunday harvest from one tomato vine.
One Sunday harvest from one tomato vine.

The economy sucks. It’s horrible out there. People are losing jobs in record numbers. The “basics” cost more now — a LOT more — than they did just a couple years ago. It’s harder to make ends meet than it has been in recent memory. And, according to the “experts” (and my own gut), it’s not going to get better anytime soon.

So why am I enjoying this mess?

It’s put me back in touch with some of the things that it’s easy to forget… like how to enjoy the simple pleasures. It makes me remember that it’s much easier to save money than to make it. It becomes glaringly obvious how much better life is when people pull together to make things easier instead of wandering apart.

Case in point — I’m cooking again. Dating someone with kids and having my own grown children nearby has expanded my “standard” meal from a quick two-person deal (for my daughter and me this time last year) to a five or six-person meal… often expanded by one or two more than that!

I’m keeping a tight rein on the health aspects of the cooking for varied (and necessary) reasons. I enjoy seeing the differences in the way the people around the table are trimming down, pumping up with energy, and feeling as good as they look. I’m cooking from scratch most of the time. Almost nothing goes to waste.

Despite the tough economic times, I’m not pushing as hard as I once did. My client load has lightened and I’m taking it in stride. I enjoy expanding my “daily” work to things outside the office. I don’t spend 16-18 hours in front of the computer these days. Honestly, it’s nice.

I have a tiny garden to tend. Mostly it’s just herbs, tomatoes and chard (oh, and weeds) … but it’s amazing how much has come out of that little patch of earth. My Roma tomatoes have escaped the blight that many gardeners in the area have endured with their own tomatoes. That one vine has produced enough for us to have fresh tomatoes at one or two meals a day, and I’ve had extras that I’ve used in cooking. The other vines haven’t done much — other than provide some HUGE green tomatoes for deep-south lovin’ green fried tomatoes (only once this year, so far.)

I’ve probably spent less money on fluff in the past four months than I have in years and I don’t miss shopping… at ALL. I like finding ways to make our food budget shrink while our food quality soars. I enjoy scouring Craigslist and the local Goodwill for the things we need or want around the house.

Yeah, I’m nesting. I know this. I have an appreciative audience, which helps enormously. And the best thing about all of this? We all sit down three times a day together and “break bread.” We have family time without a television or even a radio. We sit and eat and talk. Yeah, TALK. We do this several times a day… EVERY day. We are getting closer all the time. It’s nice and I notice the effects on interpersonal relationships around the house.

I think the speed with which we are accustomed to living life has not been a benefit to family life. I think grabbing something at a drive through, munching whatever can be found in the fridge while watching TV and sink-hovering to devour “fuel” for our bodies has starved our souls.

I like working together, pulling together to make life better with less. Yeah, I’m a simplicity girl… but it’s nice to have a whole group of people working together to make the most of everything. It’s truly joyful.

So if you wonder why I’m smiling so broadly while everyone else is cursing the “hard times” — now you know. 😉