I miss the ritual of fine dining. The path through the restaurant, following the maître d, the way the tables are set, the chatter of the guests. Ordering wine while perusing choices. The feel of the menu. The easy banter with the wait staff.

The rhythm of the meal, appetizers, soup, salad, the main course, and then coffee and dessert. The conversation. The laughter floating softly through the dining room.

Both my parents truly enjoyed the ritual, and in some ways it is what kept the fraying threads of family life together for us. …


Lately, as I watch the global news, I have been considering abuse as a collective phenomenon. The understanding of abuse in individuals and families has been advanced a great deal by modern psychology. We understand battered women and elder abuse. Most have some understanding of the different types of abuse, such as physical, emotional, financial, psychological, etc.

But I contend that there is also large scale institutional abuse that functions in very similar ways. The racial violence against BIPOC peoples is both physical abuse and psychological abuse.

The institutional misogyny that appears whenever a women in politics goes for a…


How do we live the frugal life? It can’t be done without self-knowledge, attention to detail, and yes, time and effort. It is easy to get things done when we just throw money at the problem. But that is not necessarily a good idea in the long run. Unless you are very rich and just don’t care. But there is a huge and joyful pay-off to doing the work to craft a rich yet frugal life So how is it done? Here are 10 tips to get you started:

  1. Get organized. Many of the basic techniques of a frugal life…

Fresh herbs add great flavor to home cooking, but buying them at the market is prohibitive. The herbs come in bunches much larger than usually called for, and only stay good for a few days. But if you have a sunny windowsill you can grow your own herbs for the cost of a pack of seeds. Then you can trim just a few leaves off as needed without hurting the plant. This is clearly the frugal solution.

You will need a bag of rich potting soil, a bag of something called perlite which is added to the soil, and some…


Summer is here at last, and with it an explosion of luscious fruits and vegetables! Here in the USA we have a true bounty of summer produce that makes eating frugally simple and fun. The beauty of this bounty is matched only by its flavor. Whether you are shopping at a supermarket, a farmer’s market, or growing it yourself there are more choices than you could possibly use.

From apricots to summer squash, there is something for everyone, and at the hight of the season it may be hard to keep up! Three of the most beloved items on the…


Often when I tell people about my writing on frugality I get a strange response. “oh — I don’t like that word-frugality” they say. “I don’t want to be cheap” Or sometimes “I don’t want to live in a poverty consciousness.” It is easy to see where these ideas come from. The shift in our value systems as a culture has given the honorable qualities of frugality and thrift a bad name. At this point for many these words are bundled up with other words such as miserly, stingy, and cheap.

But this was not always the case. The founders…


The question “how much is enough?” is at the very heart of a frugal life richly lived. It is the backbone of frugal abundance. We live in a culture that resists the concept of enough. For the inhabitants of the “developed world”, the answer we must give is that no amount is enough. The economy we have created depends on MORE, and just enough is considered an ill.

But sensible people trying to live a good and pleasant life know that this is nonsense. Too much clutter in our material possessions or our time leads to a frenzied life where…


Several years ago I clicked on a link about wasting money. On the list were several items that seemed very subjective, such as owning of houseplants, having pets, or reading magazines. These things are extremely subjective. The one thing all of these subjective items had in common was that each of them had some intrinsic value and are therefore not a waste to the person who values them. I started searching for more such lists, and found that they all had subjective items on them.

The other thing about these list was that none of them caught ALL of the…


The other day I read an article about frugality where a young woman told a story in which her tires were bald and unsafe, but she didn’t want to spend the $400 to get them replaced. She seemed to believe that this was the frugal approach, but she couldn’t be more wrong.

Safety violations waste money whether they are at home, at work, or on the road. Every year millions or maybe billions of dollars are wasted cleaning up messes that could have been avoided with some simple safety precautions that were skimped on. Remember the gulf oil spill? …


This is the second in a series of posts about cooking better food at home. Being able to produce your own meals is a cornerstone of the frugal life. If you know you really hate to cook learning a few tricks might at least improve your fare when you can’t avoid cooking for yourself. If you like to cook but just don’t feel competent in the kitchen these tips will really help.

1. Deglaze the pan.

This simply means adding liquid to any the pan after you sauté. The little bits at the bottom of the pan are called fond…

Annabel Ascher

I am a writer and photographer living in the high desert west of Taos NM. Beauty and biophilia are what inspire me.

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