Friday, September 1, 2017
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
When I was about 13 years old, I rode the school bus everyday to and from school. I always made sure I sat on the side of the bus that passed this particular home in Covington. I was infatuated with this home. It had a beautiful porch and character in the architecture. I looked out the bus window and day dreamed about it being mine. I would be wrapped up in a soft white robe with a mug of hot chocolate in my hand (13 year olds didn't dream about coffee, I guess), walking toward the fireplace. Looking at the beautiful fire, I would sit on the sofa with my legs tucked under me and reach for a favorite book. Today, I can still recall that day dream as if it were yesterday.
Here is the house in a current photo from Google Street View:
Well, time marched on. I stopped riding the school bus when I got my driver's license. I finished high school in Covinton and moved to Baton Rouge to attend LSU. It wasn't long after graduation that I realized I wanted to stay in Baton Rouge to live. I started house hunting. I was 24 years old.
I found this beautiful brick home on Government Street. Talk about character! From the arches to the brick to the glass door knobs, I fell in love with this house. I had a vision of renovating it and making it mine.
After conversations with several people in my life, I realized I really didn't have the money or the time needed for this vision. I was just starting my career and wanted to spend every moment toward that goal. There really wasn't room in my life for this house. I was disappointed, but I am a realist. So I bought a modern townhome and didn't look back for at least 15 years. I had a brief period in my life when I considered moving back to Covington. This great home was on the same street as my first dream and it was for sale!
(the photo is current; it wasn't a business back then) I looked long and hard, but ultimately decided against the move. My career came first and, to this day, I am happy with that decision.
We are settled in Saint Joseph now and this beautiful home came up for sale. That day dream in Covington was over 35 years ago, but it came rushing back to me when I saw this place.
I told my husband, Jeff, that I really wanted it and he made it happen. Several friends gathered around when it came time for the purchase. I was a little weak in the knees watching Jeff handle it all, and a friend brought me a chair. Next thing I knew, my husband bought me a house as my "project". I feel like a princess who's prince made (yet another) dream come true.
I honestly do not know what the future holds, but I know we will enjoy bringing this home back to it's former glory. We will figure the rest out after that. Stay tuned for updates and more pictures!
*doing the happy dance*
Monday, April 27, 2015
3 lbs ground meat
2 onions, finely diced
12 oz can tomato puree
3 oz tomato sauce
1 cup yellow corn meal
3 tb salt
1 tsp black pepper
1.5 tsp red pepper
3 tsp cumin powder
3 tb chili powder
1 tb garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
48 oz tomato sauce
4 tb salt
2 tb cumin
4 t chili powder
2 tb red pepper
1 tb oregano
chicken stock/water as needed
We like spice, but found we had to back off on the red pepper a little in the Boiling Mixture. We preferred 4 lbs of meat for this recipe and with the chorizo venison didn't need any of the spices in the Meat Mixture that are listed after corn meal. We also found some great food grade parchment papers online that were cut specifically for tamale making . . . so much better to work with than the corn husks we tried the first time.
4 lbs chorizo seasoned venison
2 tb minced garlic, browned
4 tb dried onions, rehydrated and browned
1 can tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
1 cup corn meal
58 oz tomato sauce
4 tb salt
2 tb cumin
4 tb chili powder
1 tb red pepper flakes
1 tb dried oregano
chicken broth as needed so boiling mixture covers the tamales
Thursday, November 27, 2014
Cooking was not my thing (you can read more about our first Thanksgiving here at Agriana in this blog post). I was mortified at the idea of cooking a Thanksgiving meal back then . . . not only did I think I couldn't do it, but I wasn't interested in doing it. My choice was my career and I put everything I had into that. There was no room for cooking, and who needed it anyway with so many outstanding restaurants nearby? My life without cooking was just fine, and not for a second have I ever regretted that choice.
Fast forward to today. I move around the kitchen easily. I made a delicious venison breakfast sausage cornbread dressing . . . with venison we processed ourselves. I tried a corn casserole that really tasted good (although I might use a different cheese next time). Using a pumpkin "butter" made of cream cheese and pumpkin and other good stuff, I made stuffed crescent rolls.
I did cheat by ordering the turkey and ham. Our local school had a fund raiser and, well, I just had to support them and order those items. Both were very good.
So I guess I was a little surprised at myself this morning. What a difference! Maybe I shouldn't be surprised . . . afterall, I put all my heart into home making these days, just like I did with my career back then. I was very good at one, so being good at a second makes sense.
Now that we are all stuffed full of food and just happy to be together, I am reflecting on how happy I am. Having the opportunity to live a different life has been very rewarding. I loved life before Agriana. I love life at Agriana just as much.
Happy Thanksgiving to you. My hope is that you have a moment to reflect on your life today and realize the same happiness.
Sunday, January 12, 2014
Thursday, October 10, 2013
With that mindset, we started this blog when we moved to Tensas Parish. Surely that aspect of our life would not change.
We've been living here over 3 years now, and we find we are more and more disconnected. And this is a good thing. We are outside more, or in a tractor or other equipment, and find we do not spend much time inside at the keyboard. We use our smartphones more and more . . . and we all know how frustrating it can be to type a long message on your phone.
So I guess I am saying all this to give us an excuse about why we do not blog much. We do like to share our experiences, however, and we found we posted more on our personal Facebook pages. It's easy to do that from a phone. So we started an open Facebook page for Agriana and will be posting there as much as possible. Even if you aren't on Facebook, you can see the page at www.facebook.com/pages/Agriana/196982200325223. If you are on Facebook and "like" the page, our posts will show in your news feed. We welcome your comments and look forward to interacting with you about life here at Agriana.
We do plan on blogging when we can. I hope you will stay with us :)
Jeff & Karen
Friday, July 5, 2013
They made this big in-your-face push of "flagship" that didn't go down well with many people associated with the other universities of the state. My opinion is that if they wanted that status they should just be it. But be it by an damned big margin that can't be legitimately argued against. Otherwise it's a big mistake. I've seen it many times in business. Start bragging and the knives come out. If it's just a PR war then you might need to make some claim to be noticed. But it better be a claim that can't be challenged. The "flagship" status might have made everyone inside LSU, and their "boardly" bodies feel good at home and around the country. I thought the "flagship" push was bad not only for bringing out the Louisiana knives in the Louisiana legislature, but also didn't likely help outside Louisiana. When I was president of my company I had no need to brag because I was Mr. Lewis. I had respect because of what I accomplished and my company's reputation. We never revealed revenue or profit, both of which were underestimated outside my company. We kept having record revenue year after year. Revealing that would have only caused problems with no upside unless I had wanted the bitter pleasure of letting people think, including competitors, that I was "better" than them. Well the LSU community seemed to have enjoyed that pleasure. Maybe they got the "pleasure" but the other universities certainly got the "bitter" from LSU. So where's the surprise that the knives come out in the legislature? And why the surprise at how many knives and how sharp they are and how determined they are to draw blood. And why the surprise at how much blood flows until LSU is just about slouching with the rest of the state which they see as inferiors? So now LSU is slouching and stumbling. I don't know much about the direction of the "inferiors" but I would guess their momentum is not on the bad downward trajectory of LSU.
The problem with the new president is that he likely got the job by making all kinds of assurances that he would quickly turn around the failing "flagship" mission. Don't be surprised to see more blood spilled.
I have not liked any of the recent presidents or chancellors. They are all from outside Louisiana. Sure they look good. But Michael Martin was the only one I ever heard anyone like. The rest were described as backstabbing and untrustworthy. Do you remember Sean O'Keefe? The search committee, as I heard it, stopped looking when they interviewed him. Stopped looking? Really? What in the world did they fall for? But they got what they bought. And could not get rid of him fast enough.
To be sure, William Jenkins was the real deal. I think what made him different, along with his special skills across the board, was that he was not a Yankee. He was from South Africa. And another thing that made him special was that he had been with LSU since 1988, only becoming chancellor in 1996 after eight years of getting the lay of the land. That is important.
One of the wisest things I learned about selecting leaders, coincidentally from someone I served with in the College of Science at LSU, was that when things are going good you promote from within. But when things are going bad you bring in new minds. Jenkins fit this rule. O'Keefe and John Lombardi failed this rule. The new president is coming from California. I think that's a big mistake. I think they need a local good-ole-boy for the turnaround. And by turnaround I mean in the actual operation of the university. Sure it's not as sexy to the outside world to introduce your local President Bubba, but President Bubba can get the knives back in their sheaths in time because he knows all the offended knife holders. He knows the "inferiors" can't be asked to decline while LSU arrogantly steps on them trying to become their superior. I've been away from Louisiana politics for about 20 years now. (Sad to say, but I now regret every single dollar I ever contributed.) In that time I only met a couple men who could be President Bubba. I'm pretty sure they are both in their eighties by now.
I wish the new President Alexander the best. If he calls me I will be glad to go see him. Yet you and I are pretty sure he's not likely to see things my way. Nor would his "security" screen want him to consider my approach. They will likely go with some sort of "bigger knife" strategy. Bad plan. A tiny blade in the right place will kill you. So will a hundred in even some "safe" places.
My advice for President Alexander: Find somebody to take your calls. Get a really good assistant and spend the rest of the summer visiting every single legislator in their personal homes. And especially visit ever other university President the same way. Chancellors too. (Together if you can arrange it.) They are all expecting you to be the latest enemy leader. Change that expectation before you make a single big decision. Win them over.
One last thought: If they suddenly have to fire President Alexander don't start thinking Jeff For President. My official resume is weak, well actually negative, from a university viewpoint. I'm just a wanna-be strategist. We never get evaluated so our thoughts are not to be trusted.