black box
Mrs. G. has said it before—for her, blogging is about connection. A lean budget and fear of flying have limited her world travels, but many nights, before she turns in, she sits on the couch in her nightgown and ratty bathrobe and visits friends in Great Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. She loves sneaking a peek in the windows of a Texas mama and her two wild boys, a single gal in Brooklyn, a gardening nurse in Massachusetts, and an Irish goddess in Wisconsin. Reader, call Mrs. G. a dewy-eyed cornball, but it never loses its power. She's heard all the current criticisms of blogs: they're are a dime a dozen, they inspire mean-girl behavior, they have created an ecosystem of epic oversharing. But for Mrs. G, blogging has made her world more, well, worldly, has made her world bigger and wider, more ample and generous.

Mrs. G. is a true blue believer in the kindness of strangers, and she can't talk about connection without mentioning her friend Melanie. She met Melanie in the comment's section of another blogger and followed her home. They started emailing each other and then one afternoon a little ding donged and a bright orange box revealed itself in the right hand corner of Mrs. G's computer screen which read: Hello friend! Mrs. G. was relatively new to technology and she had no idea what to do. She tapped the screen a few times and stared at if for a full five minutes until Melanie instant messaged these nine, life changing, magical words: just type in some words and hit enter doofus. And that was that. They spent weeks chatting online until, timorously, they agreed it was time to graduate to the phone call. It was like a first date. Would Melanie be a weirdo? Would she think Mrs. G. was a weirdo? An hour later, after covering family history, religious beliefs, pasta sauce and rare diseases, they agreed things had gone well and a second call was in order. And Presto! A bonafide friendship was born.

Melanie is talented (she created the complete look of Derfwad manor—down to Johnny Depp blowing kisses in the banner), she's generous (she recently raised $1,000 for the Nie Nie Fund) and she is modest (she's not going to like this post one bit).

So when Mrs. G. heard about her new project, there was really only one thing to do: share it with everyone else.

With food costs climbing and the stock market tumbling, Melanie's opening up a little joint called BeanPlate , a blog where she celebrates eating on the cheap using accessible, whole ingredients and the thrifty, tried-and-true methods of your grandma. Melanie wants to help folks cook through the recession, one plate a time.

Trust Mrs. G....

the girl can cook.

So do yourself a favor and head on over to the grand opening of BeanPlate to stretch your dinner dollar, inspire your cooking and make a new friend.

Because, really, who can have too many?

all photos by Melanie

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Reader Comments (70)

good idea...the recession is hitting our house too.
Mysweet prevented me from washing up this morning saying, "no I'll do it, there is some water on to boil on the woodstove!"
So it has its good side...

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRosie

I don't think a blogger could have a better friend than you, Mrs. G. And Melanie's BeanPlate certainly looks yummy.

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkimberly

I have made some real friends through the blogging world which has got to be a good thing. In the busyness and chaos of Home Schooling, to sit down at the computer and spend some time catching up with real mums is a blessing indeed!

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGaynor

i read melanie every day too!!! i love following commenters "home"'s how i found melanine and you and many many others i read all the time!

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSerial Mommy

I "met" Melanie many months ago through you.

I have remained grateful and had just finished drooling over her new site when I clicked over here - and I could drool all over again.

Thank you both!

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBlue Mountains Mary

Totally love your new banner! She sure is a talented girl!

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMaribeth

It is indeed all about friendship and connection!
Now I'm heading on over to meet a new friend. :)

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkcinnova

I feel the same way about blogging... it does connect people.. connection to others makes us better human beings.. reading what you and others have to say each day makes my life more interesting thank you... a recession will make us all more creative.. do more with less ..I will visit Melanie's BeanPlate ....enjoy the weekend

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Junking in Georgia

I am that one of those followers who followed you home off another blog.
I needed the laughs- it's been an interesting summer for us- with a studio fire in July.
The blogs have been my escape.
And through them I have meet some interesting people.
It helped me to step out of my current life and peek into others.

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered Commentercookingwithgas

I think that blogging has become a new backyard fence. We can share a cyber cuppa and lend an ear. Pretty cool.

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterdebra

and what a nice smile she has

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGary Rith Pottery Blog

I have been longing for some new recipes and weeping in the grocery aisles as my food budget falls apart. I can't wait to see Melanie's ideas!


November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterThe Other Laura

Looks like a new place to visit on a regular basis.

I concur, the blogosphere has brought so many new friendship.

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

Blogs (and social network sites like facebook) have their detractors, but those folks seem to forget that these are merely technological tools, and therefore only as good as the people who use them. So, yes, they can be catty, empty, superficial wastes of time OR they can be sources of new and meaningful relationships with people across the world.

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMamaMo

Great idea - always looking for good eats on the cheap.

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKeetha

I love the blogosphere for the same reason you do and have met several friends because of you. So when you recommend a new friend, I know I'm going to like her.

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjenontheedge

I already love The BeanPlate. Thanks for sharing.

I, too, have found a friend like Melanie on my blog and hers. Although she's never given me any kick-ass recipes like Melanie's. I'm getting a little bit pissed off!

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMiddle Aged Woman

And here I thought this recession would be an instant diet. Dammit.

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterderfina

She will do well, for sure. Especially with you sending people over to her place.

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAll Adither

If she has things that my 2 World's Pickiest Eaters will like, I'm her new best friend.

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJanet

As if I don't love BeanPaste enough!

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPicaboMama

That's how I stumbled onto your blog. Everyone jogs around the blogging country, and before you know it, you've got the busiest online social schedule around! I thank PW for finding you!

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLaDue & Crew

oh, that last photo has gotten me all verklempt! i'll definitely be checking out her blog.

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered Commentera square peg

What a lovely introduction to Melanie's newest website.

Lucky me! She's doing a bloggy makeover for moi. Yay!

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCheri @ Blog This Mom!

I'm on my way over there now. Thanks for sharing this post!

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAly @ Lip Zip

You are a good friend, Mrs. G. And those dishes look delicious.

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGwen

OMGoodness! Those look so yummy. I didn't even know I could be this hungry at this hour in the morning.
Thanks for sharing your friend. The sure do make the world a better place!

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTL

I'm heading over, but only because that last photo of the two holding hands was just too much cute for me to handle. You could seriously convince me to rob a bank with just the picture alone.

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSummer

Oooh YUM! I'm headed her way!

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterReal Live Lesbian

Melanie was my first g-chat too. She's amazing--as are you.

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJenn @ Juggling Life

I never noticed Johnny Depp in the banner. What's wrong with me? I don't notice Johnny Depp? I mean, seriously!!! Yikes!

I really need to follow more commenters home. I haven't done that much lately, but it's always such a nice surprise to do it.

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered Commentersuchlovelyfreckles

Oh I LOVE me some BeanPaste! Warm a warm life she seems to have. So excited to hear she is doing a food blog, on my way now!

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

that was supposed to be "What a warm life"...see her life is just that warm, I subconsciously said it twice :)

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

Hi! This is my first time at Derfwad Manor, but I'll definitely be back. I'm visiting from the Pioner Woman's site. Can't wait to check out some economical recipes. Thanks for sharing.

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterthedomesticfringe

Wait - you mean, you can reach out *beyond* commenting? Oh, man. I don't know if I'm ready for that!

Love the idea of beanplate! (and I love Melanie, too!) Thanks for spreading the word.

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterdharmamama

Right on, Mrs. G. Not a blogger myself (at least yet), but you and Melanie are two of my favorite windows on the world!

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChristy

My ears are burning. Literally. And what a lovely, lovely group of people you are.

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie

I love, love, LOVE to cook. Heading over to BeanPlate RIGHT NOW...

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. Chili

What a wonderful idea and what a sweet friend you are to share this. I look forward to checking the site

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTricia

Comfort food--I'm so there. And I'm just like you--I feel as silly but the whole "friends around the world" is as thrilling today in the blogosphere as it was when I was in middle school and got a penpal from France.

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGreen Girl in Wisconsin

Love it. I like to cook. I love to cook when its cheap. And healthy.

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterphd in yogurtry

I, too, am a huge Melanie fan! She's funny, extremely talented, beautiful, and smart.

And she is one hell of a writer.

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterClaire B.

I already stopped by the new site after reading Melanie's post on BeanPaste.

Not only can the girl cook - but she also takes great photos, sews amazing costumes for her kids and writes one great blog.

She pretty much rocks in every way.

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjustjuli

What a cool bloggy friend indeed. The food looks yummy but I have to say that last pic is the best.

The babies holding hands.


November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGrandy

Mrs. G, I am proud to be a devoted Derfwaddette. I followed you home from...somewhere, I don't remember where, but I'm sure it was a nice place. Your blog always make my day.

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDucksoop

You are so nice, Mrs G.

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNora Bee

Blogging has provided many meaningful connections for me as well. I wouldn't trade my friends in the computer for anything.

I'll definitely check out Melanie's site--the food pics look delicious.

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHairline Fracture

Melanie is one talented woman! And who can resist those adorable chubby little hands in her rear view mirror? So cute!

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterStarshine

Whaaaat?! I thought the prevention to a recession was just elected!

Thanks for BeanPlate. Will go there and benefit to reduce my food costs and hopefully my waistline.

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

She's a genius. Is that coming on too strong?

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Milton

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