Friday, July 25, 2014


You all know how much I love my whirly gig and bottle trees, but did you know that my hubby too is a collector of fine garden art? No? Well, by all means, let's take a tour!

Notice the way in which the gnome's hat coordinates with the bench behind it.

And, of course, a garden just isn't a garden without one of these.

I was going to stop here, but hubby came into the room and saw what I was doing. "But you forgot my two favorites," he whined. So back outside we went.

Jedi Gnome
His new birdbath is fairly awesome as well.

Truly a man of taste, is he not?

Is it any wonder that we get along so well?

P.S. A special shout out to all the "loving" family members who keep gifting him with these dear little gnomes. You know who you are!

Thursday, July 24, 2014


Alexis And Her Buddy Chase
My best friend and I had our first babies three months apart. I remember one day, when they were a bit older, how we got to talkin' about why they had certain character traits, and not others.

Paula has worked in early childhood education her entire life, and feels like she must be the most highly-trained person around, what with all the seminars they are forever sending her to. That day she shared a little exercise with me, which she had done herself in one of those seminars. 

Mr. Austin Joins The Party
She had me take a piece of paper and list at least 10 or 12 qualities that I felt it was important for my children to have. When I was done, she had me circle the first four or five I had listed. "See those traits in that circle? That is your child. I bet they describe Alexis to a tee, don't they? Why? Because those are where you spent most of your time. Sure, it'd be nice to have a child that was neat and tidy, but there are only so many hours in a day, so you focused your energy on what was most important to you."

Know what was up towards the top of my list? Strength and independence. I wanted her to be able to handle whatever came her way, and not fall apart if anything ever happened to one of us -- which could explain why she was a Little Miss Bossy Pants.  With Austin I may have eased off on that, knowing he'd be my last. I also wanted my kids to have a sense of humor and of adventure -- to be willing to step out of their comfort zone and experience new things. I wanted them to be kind and creative and lovers of books. They are, in fact, all of the above. They are most definitely not neat and tidy.

I've thought about those lists a lot over the years, and especially about what might have been on Paula's own list, since I never actually saw it. From the few things we have differed strongly on throughout the years, I'm guessing that "independence" wasn't at the top of her list. For instance, when we sent Alexis off to college without a car the first year, Paula thought we were insane. I explained to her that we didn't want her coming home every weekend. Then she was sure we were insane.

Nope, that's not me doing the hugging. That's Alexis!
It got me to thinking about our families and our own upbringings, and it had me wondering if that might not be a difference between country people and city people?

My family has been in the big city for generations, where it was each man for himself. We were on our own as soon as we got out of high school. If you wanted to go to college, you put yourself through. My dad finished high school early, just so he could get a job and stop being a burden on his single mom. No one ever lent him a hand with anything, so why should we expect a helping hand? Once we left, moving back home just wasn't an option. Our jobs have made us very mobile, taking us away from friends and family time and time again, forcing us to learn how to tough it out alone. So I raised my kids to be strong and independent.

In Paula's family, however, no one ever really left home. She comes from farmers and ranchers who grew up in a small, agriculturally based community -- where neighbors and family were forced to rely upon one another, because it was simply impossible for any one person to do it on their own! You might say they're "Village People." Sure, kids may go off to college, but it's usually somewhere close by, and they do come home on weekends. Daughters may marry, but if it doesn't work out, they move back in with mom and dad. Paula's father did actually move to Houston to work, but they alternated going home to his people and to his wife's people every single weekend, and moved back home to the country the minute he was eligible to retire. Although we met Paula and Tim while living overseas, they too moved back closer to home at the first opportunity. They have never been farmers or ranchers themselves (they don't even grow houseplants!), but that homing instinct must have been genetically imprinted on them, and on their son. Everything Chase does is about family and tradition, and nothing makes his parents happier than to be needed and relied upon.

So, in the end, I guess we both got what we wanted. Paula and Tim still see their son almost daily, talk to him on the phone several times per day, and are helping to raise their grandson.

We see our kids almost daily too...on Facebook.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


I'm up to my eyeballs now in Junelle Jacobsen's Farmers's Market art class. Her first assignment was to go to a local market and gather inspiration in the form of photos, sketches, notes, vendor-chatting, sample-tasting or whatever. Well, that's been one of my very favorite activities ever since moving to the Hill Country, and my i-photo files have about a bazillion pics to prove it! So my first task was to scroll back through five or six years worth of photos and move the best market shots over into a special folder, for easier access. It took a while! Whilst doing so, I noticed this shot.

A few years back we attended one of the first Gypsy Picnic Food Trailer Festivals, and on our way back to our car we stumbled upon this, the Barkitecture Doghouse Auction, which was raising money for an animal shelter or something. I just loved it that this particular doghouse actually looked like a food truck!

So no, not technically a scene from a "farmer's" market, but I don't think Junelle will mind that I used it as inspiration for her puppy dog assignment.

Monday, July 21, 2014


Yes, that Bloody Mary actually has bacon in it!
I hesitate to post about where we ate this weekend, lest you think I'm trying to hasten my hubby's demise. I can only say, it was not my doing.

Hubby discovered this place called Franks, just off 6th St. in downtown Austin, when he was out exploring one day. He knew in an instant that he had to bring his buddy Toad there some day, and Saturday was the day.

We actually got there a little before 11:00, and I was shocked to see that it was already open -- and packed! Apparently they serve more than just hot dogs and cold beer. Above you see their Big Ass Pancake. Seriously. That's what it says on their menu.

By the time we were all there, and ready to order, they had switched from breakfast to lunch menus. Mr. Toad ordered some kind of artisan sausage, while hubby got this hot dog topped with, yes, that's right, mac and cheese! He said I should be proud of him for going the healthy route, since several of their other dogs get wrapped in bacon then deep fried. (head slap) They shared this order of waffle fries with cheese curds and brown gravy. Made me queasy just to look at them. The boys deemed them "Not bad!", but weren't able to eat more than a few before giving up.

Paula and I split a Southern Guy hot dog with Dr. Doppelganger (Dublin Dr. Pepper) barbecue sauce and some caramelized onions on it, and an order of their Mexican corn, which was yummalicious!

Their dessert options included chocolate covered bacon. We went back and forth over whether to try it or not, and finally decided to order one strip, split four ways. Unanimous opinion seemed to be "interesting, but probably wouldn't order it again." I'd have to say the best part of the whole experience would have to be...

the company!

And then we went to Salt Lick for dinner.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


Why yes, we are!

A little photo booth fun with our besties, Paula and Tim, at Frank's in Austin. More about Frank's to come.

Friday, July 18, 2014


My friend Pam posted this week about the wonderful little apartment in Paris -- near the Eiffel Tower and Rue Cler, my favorite foodie street -- where her family goes to stay about once a year. It got me to thinkin', about the time I offered to take my daughter to Paris, and she turned me down! I realized that we hadn't done a mother-daughter getaway since I took her to look at colleges, and here she is 31, and fixin' to get hitched! So I made the offer again. And she turned me down again -- but with a legitimate reason this time, since the wedding itself was going to use up all of her vacation. Soooo, I told her to think of someplace fun that wasn't so far away, where we could go for a long weekend. Guess what she came up with?

One of the top foodie towns in the country, and totally walkable, with everything close together. Almost European, in fact. Surrounded my water -- and dolphins! Squee!

Years ago, when I still took Southern Living magazine, I tore out a bunch of articles about Charleston. Fortunately, they were still in my files, so I've already been making lists of things to do and places to eat. Now I'm off to the library to check out some books set in Charleston -- one of my favorite things to do before heading to a place I've never been. It gets me in the mood!

Now Hubby and son Austin need to start planning where they want to go for a father-son getaway, before Austin's nuptials the following fall. Let's just hope they don't choose something like Burning Man. My hubby could get into waaaaaaaay too much trouble there!

Thursday, July 17, 2014


I've decided there are mostly two kinds of people in the world. There are your talkers, and there are your writers.

Hubby and I are both writers, while his big brother and his wife are both talkers. They talk and talk and talk, about every little thing under the sun, but not us! Our relationship was fairly stagnant the first year and a half. There were none of those all-night-gab-fests, and telephone conversations were brief and to-the-point, sometimes bordering on awkward. Plus, there was a good bit of miscommunication, with each of us just guessing what the other was thinking and feeling. It wasn't until he graduated, moved away, and started sending me letters, that we really got to know each other, and things finally got serious.

I got to thinkin' about this when I noticed the way my friends and I communicate, or not, these days. The talkers are all phone-people, while the writers love e-mail. I have a smart phone, as you can see above, but the only time I give it a thought is when it's making such a ruckus that it can't be ignored. Then I make every effort to get out of the conversation as quickly as possible. I much prefer e-mail, which gives me the opportunity to think about what I want to say and, thankfully, delete that which, upon deliberation, might be better left un-said. When I feel pressured to say something, anything, just to fill the lull in conversation? Well, there's just no telling what inanity will pop out of my mouth!

Many of my favorite people, however, are talkers, and most definitely, phone people. They keep their phones with them constantly -- not buried in their purses like me, but in their hands. All calls seem urgent to them, but they can go several days without checking or responding to their e-mails. Sometimes, I'm afraid, we made each other a bit nuts. Finally I realized that, what we had here was a failure to communicate, and what we needed was some kind of compromise.

Which is why I finally learned how to text-message!