Too Thrifty Chicks


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For Annie Mae Jones Jeffers

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You are hand kneaded dough that rises to become hot bread. Bread, that along with molasses is considered a meal. But I don’t like molasses, so I always just ate it plain. You are gravy and fried chicken. You are coffee that I am too young to drink. But you. You let me drink it anyway, and the taste for it is always with me even to this day.

You are summers spent barefoot in the sunshine. You are a garden tomato eaten raw, juicy with salt. You are a cut in half tire, turned seesaw. You are muscadine grapes and flowers that grow in controlled chaos. You are my love for rocking chairs and sitting porches. You are chocolate cake and maybe I have been craving the taste of chocolate because I knew this day was coming.

You are women gathered at the table. Gathered in the wonderland of your yard. Gathered long after dark and the lightening bugs have come out. Laughing. Loud and untamed. Happy tears of mirth, running down dark cheeks. And occasionally a little trickle of urine. You are a dip of snuff. Tucked expertly between teeth and lower lip. You are the master pincher. In a family full of men that you loved and gave life, you are the heartbeat at the center of the tree.

FullSizeRender 105When I was told that you had passed, my heart went straight into my throat and then took a free fall into my stomach. Given that you were in your 80s, your passing is not unexpected — should not be unexpected. But who can ever be prepared for death?

I remember very clearly the last time we really spoke. I was in town for A.J.’s wedding. I’d stopped by your house to change clothes.

“Who you,” you asked. “It’s me, Mommae. Keshia.” You looked at me. Uncertainty clouding your face. “Keshia?” “Yes, Mommae. Keshia.” We went through that line of questioning about three times. We did it again after I changed into my dress.

“That’s a pretty dress,” you said. “Who you?”

I am what you helped make me. I am every ounce of love that you poured into me and everyone you have ever come into contact with. I am the wind from rolled down windows on winding country roads. I am pallets on floors and fatback meat. I am wild plums and wild strawberries. I am one of the many seeds in the garden of your family. Thank you for the sunshine of your smile, the strength of your hugs and the nourishing water of your laughter. I honor you. I love you. Thank you for being my bonus grandmother.



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Food for Thought Friday: Mindset Reset 2

This post could have very well been called “Give Thanks: The Power of Gratitude,” or even “It Could Be Worse: Why You Should Be Grateful It’s Not” but what all these things boil down to is how you choose to see any given situation. Not just how you shift your mindset or world view to glass half-full or half-empty, but why it’s important to make a deliberate decision to cultivate a spirit of gratitude.

The Thrifty Chicks, in solidarity with our church, have been on a 40 day fast for Lent. As part of the fast we committed to getting some physical activity every day (a little weak here even though we’re runners), maintaining a low-fat, low-sodium vegetarian diet (we got this) and enduring water-only, sunrise to sunset fasts on Wednesdays and Fridays (the struggle is so real).

And if all that weren’t enough our pastor challenged us to give up one last thing for Lent. He encouraged us to give up something bad like guilt, anger, greed and jealousy because they are enemies of the heart. And the tools for defending against those enemies are confession, forgiveness, generosity and celebration and gratitude.

Guarding your heart from discontent

Last Sunday our pastor preached on the importance of celebrating others when you are jealous and being grateful for your own circumstances regardless of what they are. The piece about gratitude planted a seed that I didn’t know would need to take root so quickly in my week because gratitude also is a tool for defending against another enemy of the heart: discontent.

I’ve been sharing with Reese that I don’t see myself pursing my profession the way I currently do for the next 20 years, maybe not the next 10 or even the next 5. A lot of it has to do with the changes I’ve witnessed in my industry. Some of it has to do with the daily realities of doing my job.

There’s a good chance it’s burnout talking, but there’s another chance it’s this deep yearning I have to do something a little different. It’s a scary place to be because 1) I spent a lot of money going to school for this and 2) I really have no vision, inkling or clue of what that something different is.

Until I get more clarity I try to stay focused on my right now, and then, BAM! The mother of frustrating work week hits me and I do not respond with the kind of resiliency that I usually do.  I posted this on my Facebook page:


As I predicted (or likely invited into existence), the day did get more frustrating and I just couldn’t shake how I felt about it all. I could feel the tension in my neck and my back to the point that I was in physical pain and remember thinking, “This is how people die at work or on their way home from work.”  As I was driving home from work, I said out loud everything that I’d been thinking in my head. Anyone looking into my car would have likely wondered if I was having a heated discussion on my hands free ear piece, or that I was seriously bugging out. By the time I got in the house and got settled I was calm. I picked up a book that Reese and I are reading titled “Enough: Discovering Joy Through Simplicity and Generosity” by Adam Hamilton.

We’re reading the book as supplemental information for Operation Do Better, but it’s been so much more. I happen to be on the third chapter of the book which I had forgotten, after putting it down for a few weeks, is entitled “Cultivating Contentment.” Hamilton denotes four keys for cultivating contentment, but two of them jumped out of the chapter, grabbed me by the shoulder and gave me a firm shake.

Hamilton says, “Remember that it could be worse,” and “Develop a grateful heart.”

Can you say ‘aha moment’? I had actually started that process in the car on the way home without even realizing it. I reminded myself , after I’d finished ranting, that I was grateful to have a job, one on many days I can find a reason to like. I’m grateful to have supervisors  and coworkers who are beyond understanding and supportive. When I think about it logically, I’ve kind of got it made in the shade compared to some people. Does that mean I might not still go pursue that yearning? No, but it does mean I can focus on the right now and easily find a reason to give thanks.

Above all I’m grateful for that revelation that after nearly 40 days of fasting and feeling like I wasn’t getting any answers about anything, that I did give up something else bad for Lent. I gave up discontent.


Roommate Chronicles: Too Thrifty Chicks Move in Together

Everything happens for a reason. When Ricks mentioned she needed a roommate on the very same day I told my partner that I was thinking about looking for a roommate, everything clicked….like within a span of two days. We share similar values, interests, and work ethics (and not to mention we do a lot of stuff together), so why not try it? Too Thrifty Chicks have taken on another adventure: Merging two households into one.

If you know either of us personally, then you probably know that we are both really hard workers who wait until we feel inspired to do most things [read: we’re procrastinators]. I lived alone, which means I had acquired a lot of stuff that needed to be packed in a three day period. Though I was super excited about us living together, I was not excited about packing. Luckily, Ricks came over one night to help me get the ball rolling.

After our lovely Thanksgiving adventures in Philly, the real work began. Let me pause for a second and say this: I have the best partner a girl could ever ask for. He used his vacation to come to town to help me move. That’s love!

Anyway, he and I packed the U-haul (don’t be fooled. This smiley girl has muscles) and moved my life from one side of the DMV to the other.

Packing chaos. These pics don’t do it justice. I have a lot of stuff!

Turning a house into a home. It’s getting there.

When we got all my stuff into the new place, I was completely overwhelmed by the thought of unpacking it all. Ricks kept reminding me to think about one thing at a time (I think she knew I was on the verge of taking a nap to avoid the madness). We spent the day unpacking dishes, setting up bookcases, sorting through stuff to give away. By 7pm, we were exhausted. I don’t think anyone wanted to touch another box or reusable bag. But, all our hard work paid off. At the end of that first day, we had the semblance of a home with visions of how to make it reflect both of our styles and spirits.

Our living room and the art that we need to hang

Our living room and the art that we need to hang

Dining room and kitchen. We don't have much cabinet or counter space so we repurposed wire shelving to hold our cookbooks, spices, crockpot, and rice cooker.

Dining room and kitchen. We don’t have much cabinet or counter space so we repurposed wire shelving to hold our cookbooks, spices, crockpot, and rice cooker.

We’ve been roomies for about a week now, and we’ve already shared Chipotle twice, three bottles of wines, and many laughs as we made it rain on a video game. I’d say our roommate adventures are off to a great start. I’m so grateful that things always work out as they should.  In this season of thanksgiving, I am reminded that life is so much better when lived in community with others. Looking forward to laughing, living, and creating.

Stay tuned for updates on our DIY projects!