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Kickstands and Nightstands: Wheels of Wisdom

The time between the New Year’s and MLK holidays is sort of a grace period for getting those New Year’s Resolutions right.

It’s time to get serious now.

Many of  you have vowed to read the Bible every day or have a daily quiet time.  If you’re still looking for a devotional book for 2018, I’ll suggest one.

Wheels of Wisdom: Life Lessons for the Restless Spirit by Tim and Debbie Bishop.

I was drawn to this couple’s story for a couple of reasons. They married for the first time when they were both 52. Their honeymoon was a cross-country bicycle tour across the United States.

You don’t have to be a cycling enthusiast to benefit from their 52 lessons. You may, however, question the “wisdom” of a long bicycle tour as a honeymoon, particularly since it was self-supported (just the two of them) and they didn’t really prepare with an organized training regimen.

Not wisdom, but maybe insanity.

Instead, they gained physical strength as they cycled an average of 67-68 miles each day along mountains and flatlands, back roads, trails and sometimes interstates.

Wheels of Wisdom

Tim and Debbie share experiences from their 2010 honeymoon trip and two subsequent cross-country cycling trips and how each relates to a deeper life lesson.  The Bishops are committed Christians and intersperse Scripture, words of encouragement and questions for personal reflection with their lessons.

In one chapter, Debbie recalls how the headwinds of the South Dakota plains slowed them down to 6 mph and forced them to wait in a small town until conditions improved. That teaches me that when I meet resistance in life, sometimes I need to adjust my pace or take a break instead of stubbornly wrestling with uncontrollable circumstances as I sometimes do.

On another day, the Bishops had misinformation about the terrain on a 90-mile leg between two destinations in Wyoming. They ended up climbing 9,600 feet, way above their previous high of 7,000. A 10-hour riding day turned into 13 hours.

Lesson learned: You can do more than you realize. They write, “When you do tackle something big and the results surprise you, let it be a lesson that you can rise to higher heights in the future if you are willing to attempt the climb.”


The Bishops honeymoon trip is the subject of another book, Two Are Better. For more information on Wheels of Wisdom, Two Are Better and their other books, visit their website


The Oldest General Store in Texas

If you grew up in the rural South, you probably have at least one of these country stores tucked away in your memory.

For me it was Hughes Grocery near my grandparents house in Clay County, Mississippi. I remember the red Coca Cola chest cooler, the driveway paved with nearly as many bottle caps as gravel.

For many in Harrison County, Texas, that store is T.C. Lindsey & Co. General Store in Jonesville,  a curve in a country road just two miles from busy Interstate 20. The store has been around for 170 years, making it the oldest continuously-operating general store in Texas.

After bicycling the hilly roads of East Texas the other day, I stopped in to see if it looked the same as it did when I first visited 32 years ago.

I didn’t need any overalls, Lodge cast iron skillets or Raggedy Ann dolls (three major categories at the store), but I couldn’t pass up the No. 1 seller—hoop Wisconsin cheddar cheese sliced with a 100-year-old cutter.

Cheese at T.C. Lindsey General Store
Store manager Jon Miller slices hoop cheese.

T.C. Lindsey & Co. General Store is still jam packed with inventory, although the family is keeping it open for the memories rather than for profit.

I also came away with a couple of micro-brewed root beers . There is an extensive selection of vintage soft drinks and as many varieties of Spam as I have seen. Penny (well, nickel) candy. Honey and sorghum molasses from nearby farms. Bulk Spanish peanuts farmed 70 miles up the road in Naples, Texas.

You can get sun bonnets, kerosene lamp supplies and shoes from the 1970s, but many of the items are not for sale such as the rare 1896 wringer washing machine and the last cotton bale ginned in the area in 1973. The store just started taking credit cards a year ago.

It is such an iconic place that movies and TV shows have filmed there, most notably the 1985 TV movie remake of The Long Hot Summer bringing Don Johnson, Cybill Shepherd and Ava Gardner to Jonesville. One day, a limousine rolled up with Lady Bird Johnson, who came in to buy Cracker Jacks of all things. Her father ran a similar store in nearby Karnack.

A favorite tale is when an employee showed up for work drunk one day. At that time, coffins were sold upstairs. There was also a sofa upstairs, where the employee passed out. He was placed inside one of the coffins as a prank.

He never arrived at work drunk again..

Learn more about the store by watching this Texas Bucket List segment.

T.C. Lindsey & Co will be celebrating 170 years of operation with a birthday cake and bluegrass band on Nov. 4 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Can’t make that?.Another good time to stop by is Dec. 9 for its annual Christmas Open House from 11 a.m. to 2 pm.

T.C. Lindsey & Co. is located at 2293 FM Road 134, about 26 miles west of Shreveport. Take exit 633 off of Interstate 20. 




Farmers Market Spotlight: Fayetteville, Arkansas

The farmer’s market in Fayetteville, Arkansas is known for its colorful flower bouquets as much as it is for fruits and vegetables.

Most of the vendors who sell heirloom tomatoes are also selling zinnias and dahlias in a rainbow of colors.

Colorful peppers and flower bouquets
What’s more colorful — the peppers or flower bouquets?
Happy Flowers
Flowers make me happy

Around since 1973, the market on Fayetteville’s historic square has grown into a hip place on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings. I was there last Saturday. Visiting the market helped me get a good picture of what Fayetteville is like.

I saw it this way: A miniature Austin without so much “weird” crossed with Oxford, Mississippi without so much Oxford shirts or Faulkner.

There were many tomato varieties and colors. Some were bicolored. Some of them were even red. Actually, Arkansas is known for pink tomatoes. It’s the state’s official fruit/vegetable. Bradley County’s Pink Tomato Festival is one of the oldest continuously running festival in the state.

Tomatoes come in many colors
Yellow, Red, Pink and Almost Black.Tomatoes come in many colors

The Fayetteville vendors were a mix of:

  1. New urban gardeners with their organic kale and food trucks

2.  Rugged farmers from places like Pea Ridge and Prairie Grove who’ve been working the terraced slopes of the Ozark Mountain foothills for decades and

3.  Many Asian family farmers introducing squash blossoms and edamame to the local food scene.

Arkansas’ growing number of Asian farmer includes Xiong’s Farm in Decatur, Arkansas. They have been selling at the Fayetteville Farmers Market for six years.


Arkansas is on the forefront of the growing edamame industry. It was the first state to commercially grow the edamame soybean variety. And, the town of Mulberry near Fort Smith is home to the annual Edamame Festival. Learn more here.

So Arksansas is now home to the Edamame Festival as well as the Purple Hull Pea Festival (Emerson).

It’s National Farmers Market Week, and I appreciate my Shreveport Farmers Market and the smaller markets in my community. But I also enjoy visiting other markets when I’m on the road.

2016: Blog Year in Review

I know this year-end recap should have been written last week, but I was too busy putting away the Christmas decor. OK, truth be told. The only thing I have been putting away was the rest of the Christmas pound cake, sausage balls and peanut brittle.

But I did start blogging in 2016. In fact, this is my 99th post! Although the writing pace has slowed. (I have my daughter’s wedding to plan), I wanted to look back and revisit some of my favorite posts and thank the dozen (I am over estimating) or so faithful readers.

I hope your 2017 is fabulous!

Bicycling and Eating Caramel Cake in North Mississippi

My husband and i usually take a weekend bicycle trip for my birthday. This year we explored the Tanglefoot Trail (and a few eateries) in New Albany, Mississippi. Wonder what bicycle trip I will do for my 60th birthday in April 2017?

Coushatta Road Trip for Tomatoes, Peaches & Such

When I made my blog public, I wanted to photograph my bicycle at an iconic farm stand. What better one to use than Ed Lester Farms in Coushatta. We spent a fun day exploring the area.

Bicycle at Ed Lester Produce

A Father Who Brings Home the Bacon

Since I published this one on Father’s Day, few people saw it since no one reads blogs on weekends. I enjoyed writing this tribute to my husband.

Father's Day bacon

Cheese Straw Tomato Tartlets From Southern Living

I started blogging with 30 Days of Tomatoes with recipes using some of the tomatoes from my garden. This is a favorite appetizer.

Cheese Straw Tomato Tartlets

My Fourth Trip to Vicksburg’s The Tomato Place

I can’t get enough of this quirky roadside stand in Vicksburg.

Small Town Bicycling: Jefferson, Texas

I love bicycling in small towns, and historic Jefferson, Texas is a great place to explore on two wheels.

Road Trip: A Mississippi General Store Tied to Manning Quarterbacks

Peyton retired in 2016, and I made my first trip to the family general store near Philadelphia, Mississippi

Mule collars, NFL jerseys and country hams


Pickles, Jams, Relishes and Stuff: Last Days at the Farmers Market

The Shreveport Farmers Market is a local jewel, and the experience is enhanced by getting to know the local vendors like the Pratts from Natchitoches.

Sugarmakers jams, jellies, pickles and relishes

10 Reasons to Cycle on Harts Island Road This Fall

Fall may be the best time, but it’s still fun bicycling Harts Island Road any season of the year, including winter.

Bicyclists on Harts Island Road

Are You Whole Foods or Piggly Wiggly?

I’m somewhere in between. I’ve been to the new Whole Foods four times since it opened in Shreveport in November. Now, it’s the La Madeleine bakery & cafe that I’m really looking forward to in 2017.

Kickstands and Nightstands-What I’m Reading

The basket of books near my nightstand contains a mix of inspirational titles and books by Southern authors. Well, mostly Mississippi writers. John Grisham mysteries and Willie Morris memoirs. The marvelous stories of Eudora Welty. The more recent fiction of Mark Childress and Kathryn Stockett.

My husband, who reads more than anyone I know, once suggested that I broaden my literary horizons.

I did.

I tried an author from Alabama.

I picked up Rick Bragg’s All Over But the Shoutin’. Beautifully written, it is a story of his relationship with his mother — from her taking in ironing to feed the family to her trip with Bragg to New York City to accept the Pulitzer Prize. it became one of my all-time favorite books. I’ve read his other family stories — Ava’s Man and The Prince of Frogtown. When my Southern Living comes every month, I flip to the last page and read his essay first before perusing the rest of the magazine.

Speaking of Southern Living, the December 2016 issue has some good reading material–not the home decor and food articles but Christmas memoirs from the likes of Fannie Flagg, another great Alabama author.

It is what it is. I live in the South and like to read about the South.

I do enjoy books about journeys – real or imaginary. I like books by Bill Bryson. Born in Iowa, he writes about adapting to life spent in England and Australia and then adjusting upon his return to the States. My favorite: The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America.

I’ve always been fascinated by people bicycling across the United States  and like to read their stories.Two recent ones I’ve read: Two are Better, the story of a couple, who married for the first time in their early 50s and honeymooned on a coast-to-coast trip; and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, how author Donald Miller edited his life by pushing himself out of a post-book (Blue Like Jazz) writing funk and into challenging, life-transforming events including a bicycle trip across America.

Lately, I’ve mostly been listening to audiobooks, not just when I’m riding in the car but also before I go to bed. This fall I finished two that I highly recommend: Hillbilly Ellegy, a memoir written by a Yale grad who analyzes the decline of the white working class culture he grew up in,  and The Nightingale, historical fiction exploring the different paths taken by  sisters resisting the Nazis in France during World War II.  I will say The Nightingale was the best book that I read in 2016.

Audiobooks are great for traveling, and I associate certain books with where I’ve been. (It was the subject of writer friend Judy Christie’s book column in the Shreveport Times a while back.) I also like to read books set in a place I recently visited.  After my first ever trip to the Pacific Northwest this fall, I started reading Where’d You Go, Bernadette,  set in Seattle and full of Pacific Northwest references. It’s not my favorite. While my daughter and I were touring around the Olympic Peninsula in the rental car, we listened to Twilight set in Forks the peninsula.

Early morning is reserved for Bible reading usually followed by a devotional. It really helps me start the day focused and with purpose.  My current devotional book is  Shauna Niequist’s Savor.  Shauna’s  a very powerful writer and speaker especially on the topic of ministry and fellowship around the dinner table.

I have never read the Bible entirely through and am currently doing so  with Psalms and Ezekiel to go. I can’t keep up with the pace suggested in most “read-the-Bible-through-in-a-year” plans, so I do a chapter or two a day followed by a devotional book.

I’m nearly 60, and the clock is ticking. I wouldn’t want to stand before God, with all the blessings He has given me and try to explain why I had not taken the time to read his Word.

Do you have any book recommendations to put on my reading list for 2017?

Tomatoes Day 17: Cheese Straw Tomato Tartlets From Southern Living

In the next few days I will be posting some tomato recipes suitable for your Fourth of July gathering.

OK, I admit it. Making this recipe is just an excuse to have cheese straws in the summer. I think of them around the Christmas holidays, when my mother would make them.

My sister makes pretty and tasty ones often, but I’m too lazy to get out the cookie press. These Cheese Straw Tomato Tartlets from Southern Living only require a biscuit cutter. I simply used a measuring cup .

With the marinated cherry tomato centers, these make simple appetizers for your July 4 celebration, a wedding shower or any party.

You make the dough, roll it out, cut with a biscuit cutter (or measuring cup, glass or any round thing about 2 1/2 inches in diameter) and put in a miniature muffin man. When you press down the dough, it makes a nice rim or you can flute it with little effort.

Party appetizers

Once only found in home kitchens, the cheese straw now shows up in food and gift stores everywhere. Being from Mississippi, I especially love the story of the  Mississippi Cheese Straw Factory in Yazoo City, Mississippi. Begun by Mary Margaret Yerger (don’t you love a good southern double name?) in 1991 out of her home, this cheese straw maker is now  a big operation with both savory and sweet straws. You can learn more about the business here.

Note: My tartlets only take about 20 minutes so be careful with this recipe and watch them closely. 

Recipe: Cheese Straw Tomato Tartlets from Southern Living

Weight Watchers SmartPoints: 4-5 per tartlet depending on how big you make them. I got 30 tartlets out of this recipe.




Tomatoes Day 7: A Father Who Brings Home the Bacon

Its arrival is almost as certain as the Thanksgiving turkey. For my husband, it’s like Christmas.

Sometime in mid-June, a big box arrives on my doorstep. It’s the annual bacon order with several varieties of thick-sliced bacon from Burgers’ Smokehouse in California, Missouri (yes, that’s the name of the town). He carefully times the order to arrive during prime tomato harvesting season.

There’s city bacon and country bacon, applewood smoked, maple flavored, peppered bacon, Canadian bacon, jowl and even something called Attic-Aged Country Ham Bacon.

After 31 years of marriage, I still have a hard time realizing how much men eat. Growing up, it was just my mother, my sister and me. A pound of bacon went a long way. Our family’s dairy farm bordered Bryan Foods in West Point, Mississippi so we always had one of their yellow packaged bacon in our refrigerator.

But I married a man with two brothers, all six-feet- tall men with hefty appetites. They learned to cook from their father, whose idea of frying up a little bacon for breakfast meant putting about three pounds in the pan.

As I’ve become more health conscious, I began buying turkey bacon. I still do occasionally, but I have come to terms with the real stuff. Two crispy slices only have about 80 calories and 3 SmartPoints if you follow Weight Watchers. That’s a lot of flavor for the calorie cost in BLTs and on top of baked potatoes.

Of course, bacon is high in saturated fat and sodium. If you are trying to keep it healthy you want to stop at a slice or two. You can try a leaner center cut or low-sodium variety. But, I think the real diet busters in BLTs are the white bread we typically use and the mayonnaise that we slather on.

Even when we aren’t eating BLTS, bacon seems to be on the menu everywhere. There’s brussel sprouts sauteed with bacon and balsamic vinegar, bacon wrapped around dates, and bacon combined with maple & chocolate to ice a cupcake.

But there is still no better way to eat bacon than on a BLT. Today is Father’s Day, and we’ll celebrate with BLTs with our homegrown tomatoes. My husband loves Jesus, his family, friends and good food–in that order. Happy Father’s Day to my husband David, who has been bringing home the bacon for 31 years at our house.

Father's Day bacon
David with our two daughters, Claire and Mary Grace (2003)

Greenberg Turkey Waiting for the Sides

Three years in a row. I’d say it is becoming a tradtion. This Louisiana family has ditched the fried turkey and has begun ordering smoked ones from Greenberg’s in Tyler, TX. They’ve been one of Oprah’s favorite things. They’ve been featured in the New York Times. They’ve been around since 1940, but I just recently discovered them.

Thanksgiving 2015

Since I didn’t have to spend time brining & cooking the turkey, I had time to do a little food styling for the first time ever on the turkey platter. (I love that one Greenberg reviewer referred to the smoked turkey as “mahogany-colored.”

This is what Thanksgiving looks like when your daughter is in medical school — getting in a little studying time before the big feast.

This is not a promotion. I am not getting paid to do this but check out Greenberg at their clever domain.

Feeling blessed on Thanksgiving