Tuesday, July 15, 2008

PENNY PINCHERS

You may be surprised to learn that I led another life before I started writing the Sarah Woolson historical mystery series. In fact, the first thing I ever wrote was a newspaper column titled, PENNY PINCHERS (inspired by my efforts to feed my growing family on a budget that was looking more anemic by the week). The articles were never intended to be any big deal, just one mom sharing household hints with equally frustrated friends and neighbors, all of us doing our best to get by despite ever rising inflation. When my husband Bob dared me to submit the first few columns I’d scribbled to a local newspaper, I laughingly took him up on it. No one was more surprised than I was when the editor called up to tell me I was hired!

My astonishment continued to grow when the column was picked up by a dozen San Francisco Bay Area newspapers! Suddenly I found myself half buried beneath stacks of reader letters, asking me everything from how to slow-cook a turkey, to what to pack in their kids’ lunch boxes. Since I suspected this unforeseen popularity wasn’t due to my great writing skills, there could be only one answer: I obviously wasn’t the only mother in Bay Area having trouble making ends meet. Somehow I had inadvertently stumbled upon thousands of kindred spirits!

PENNY PINCHERS ran successfully for more than three years. During that time, I have to admit that I learned every bit as much from my readers as they learned from me. Since I felt obliged to try out every recipe I received in the mail (checking nutrition as well as cost), my family enjoyed a far more varied menu than they ever would have if I’d been left to my own devices. Not only that, but our budget finally became more manageable, which was what had started this whole thing in the first place!

When recent visitors to my website began asking me to feature some of the PENNY PINCHER columns, I initially hesitated. After all, they’d been written more than fifteen years ago. But as I played around with the idea, I realized the articles were just as applicable today as when they were first written. So, why not? I asked myself. Maybe there were still mothers and fathers out there struggling to make ends meet.

It seems as if I was right. In spades! Apparently things haven’t changed all that much as far as family budgeting is concerned. We all still want to feed our kids nutritious meals (without taking all day to do it), and we still have to somehow make our paychecks stretch. And how about those gas prices? Yikes!

All in all, it looks as if PENNY PINCHERS may be around for a long time to come!

6 Comments:

Blogger GladysMP said...

I laughed at your trying every recipe that was sent to you at Penny Pinchers. You must have at least wound up with some that were unedible. LOL

December 2, 2008 at 11:42 AM  
Blogger GladysMP said...

I laughed at your trying every recipe that was sent to you at Penny Pinchers. You must have at least wound up with some that were unedible. LOL

December 2, 2008 at 11:44 AM  
Blogger GladysMP said...

I laughed at your trying every recipe that was sent to you at Penny Pinchers. You must have at least wound up with some that were unedible. LOL

December 2, 2008 at 1:17 PM  
Blogger GladysMP said...

I laughed at your trying every recipe that was sent to you at Penny Pinchers. You must have at least wound up with some that were unedible. LOL

December 2, 2008 at 1:23 PM  
Blogger Susan Kelley said...

I believe your penny pinching ideas are very timely considering the way of things lately. What a great idea to bring it back.

February 24, 2009 at 5:11 PM  
Blogger Caffey said...

Hi Shirley! I came by to visit when I thought of your books again when I was looking up historical mysteries (and I too added your name and series to their list at:
http://www.cozy-mystery.com/Cozy-Mysteries-by-Themes.html

(then go to MYSTERY SERIES THAT TAKE PLACE IN DIFFERENT PERIODS OF TIME (Period Mysteries or Historical Mysteries)and then click Authors beginning with R - W)

I found your books by other readers telling me about them so it goes a long way spreading the word!

That's awesome how your husband encouraged you to do some Penny Pinchers articles that lead too to spreading the word! I will go check that section out on your site! Definitely needed again today!

Have a great weekend. Cathie
tbranxiety @ yahoo . com

April 8, 2009 at 12:30 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home