Spent a day and a half in a sausage-making workshop this weekend — grueling but good foodie fun, too. Came home with 20 pounds of sausage in the Portuguese style from a recipe of my own devising. Noticing that my Portuguese cabbage was going off, I cut a half a dozen leaves, julienned them, cut a sausage into pieces and fried them together. Served it over rice, of course. Husband, who minutes before had said he wasn’t very hungry, dived into his plate. Made the happy noise. Pocho heaven — I love to entice him into eating, and I love Portuguese cabbage and sausage and rice!



Non-food digression: A few weeks ago, I began thinking ahead to Christmas but, being under-employed, knew I couldn’t buy much. Some years ago, I lost all my Christmas ornaments in a move. This was especially hard because the ornaments were tangible reminders of many phases of my life, from my grandmother’s Christmas creche with its deer little plaster animals, to a hand-carved Cajun house I picked up in Acadiana, Louisiana, some years ago. I still can barely talk about it.


Hearing my sad story, my dear mother a couple of years ago dispatched several boxes of aging glass ball ornaments today. Though tarnished and faded, they reminded me of family trees of yore and assuaged my pain a bit. (And Mom won’t miss them because the woman has an entire closet full of Christmas decor; she LOVES to decorate.)

Among the ornaments lost were many from a tradition Mom and I developed years ago of exchanging an ornament every Thanksgiving. As the holiday was coming up, and I had a quick visit to Maui planned, I began to think of what kind of ornament I could make without a lot of financial outlay. I could crochet Christmas wreaths; I’ve done it before. Suddenly, out of who knows where in my cluttered brain, came the word decoupage. I’ve never actually done decoupage, mind you, but, with answers to every question just a google-moment away, I checked out decoupage ornaments and found that I had everything I needed already in stock: Christmas-themed tissue and wrapping paper, glitter and a bottle of Modge Podge, a decoupage medium that is both a glue and a colorless glaze (this from some long-forgotten project).

I remembered the old ornaments and decided to try to give them a fresh life. And how satisfying, it worked: a few slaps of Modge Podge with an old paintbrush, some torn and crinkled holiday wrap, a sprinkle of glitter and I had something new to give Mom. Decoupage ornaments are the perfect sort of project for a delayed gratification-challenged person like myself: You can whip out three or four of them in an hour, even doing multiple layers with drying time in between. Wrinkles, torn edges and “mistakes” are part of the charm. And the process is not so mind-taxing that you can’t watch an “America’s Next Top Model” marathon while you’re doing it.

I’ve now used up at least half the ornaments, presenting my mother with a trio and some girlfriends at a birthday lunch with the others. I’m planning to send them to some folks as gifts and I’ve got my own small tree to decorate (placed high on a shelf to thwart the best efforts of Baby Cat, who thinks Christmas trees are climbing and ornaments for batting).

I have to admit I bought some more tissue the other day, but less than five bucks for a dozen or so ornaments is a steal. And the process is just the kind of pleasurable, take-myself-out-of-myself activity I need when I’m as busy as I’ve been.

Try it. Just google and you’ll find lots of Web sites, some with videos. Craft stores have the decoupage medium. I’m thinking I’ll make a food connection by cutting some photos out of food magazines and using them. See how I cleverly got back to food?